Our weekly Update on what's happening in the World of Bulldog Rescue
This Blog is Tania's own personal opinion and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the charity
It's February already and so much has happened in the world of "Bulldog" since the end of last year, not quite so important was the awful bout of Noro Virus I suffered from 18th December right through to almost the 2nd week of January, I can only take solice from the fact that it happened over Christmas and no dogs suffered as a result but it meant that I couldn't do my planned sleep out. I finally got that done last a week and a bit ago and to be honest it wasn't as bad as I anticipated.
So, as the campaign against flat faced dogs continues to gain momentum everyone is waiting with baited breath for the BBC documentary that BDR took part in. Personally I think it's going to be a disaster, those on a mission to ban all brachy breeds continue to spout their lop sided opinions anywhere they can reach. At vet schools, on the news, in magazines and of course the internet. The problem is they are putting all brachy breeders in the same boat and alienating the ones that actually care. They need to be really careful not just because the ones that do care will eventually feel they are fighing a losing battle and disappear - but that then opens up the market to the badly bred dogs, the imports and the ones bred purley for colour into the mix - if we're not careful they will be all we have - the genuinely badly bred bulldogs!
From a rescue perspective - more and more we are finding vets that tell the families of newly adopted bulldogs to bring them back because they are genetic disasters. The fear they inflict is actually ensuring bulldogs in need will eventually have absolutely no where to go - how is that fair? This is now so bad we are having to put warnings in our adoption paperwork!
Can we save the bulldog? Watch this space ....
Christmas is fast approaching and as usual things are really kicking up a gear here with dog's coming in faster than they can be processed. It's quite usual for this time of year for this to happen, people start thinking about Christmas which doesn't include the dog that they have been considering getting rid of since the kids went back to school in September. As sad as this is, I'm pleased they chose to rehome via a rescue - unfortunately the rehomer is flat out too and not everyone is prepared to wait. The dog owning public have really changed over the last few years, no one seems to be able to commit to anything anymore and so many breeds come and go as fashion accessories rescues and rehoming centers are all full to bursting. The BBC programme is now in it's editing stage and there's a part of me that's concerned it will create a new influx of dogs who's owners become convinced their dog is nothing more than a cash cow - but I'm also concerned that the continued "all bulldogs are unhealthy" attitidue will mean that some that actually are will be denyed treatment they need because the owner is convinced it's normal! Just this week we heard of a bulldog reaching it's 20th birthday, this dog is in the UK and is called Oliver - what an amazing acheivment and although my first reaction was to thing it couldn't be true I know people who know the owner and apparently it is true - how amazing is that!!! These dogs don't make the media though, no one is interested in the healthy dogs and as the real breeders continue to strive towards improvment - the fad colour breeders continue to flood the market for profilt - it does make you wonder if there's any light at the end of this particular tunnel!
What a fantastic start to our week, having left both Monty and Mellie at their new homes on Sunday, I am very pleased to say that they are both doing really really well, unfortunately the same can't be said for another youngster who's potential new home failed their homecheck because they'd not been truthful on their application. The home they said they had was perfect for the dog in question, the home in reality would have been a nightmare - so sad that the family in question thought that untruths would have never been discovered - but worse that making threats was going to change our minds. In fact all she's done is put herself on the black list.
"WE FIND HOMES FOR DOGS - NOT DOGS FOR HOMES"
And it really is that simple!
One dog that has found his perfect home will be leaving our care tomorrow also - providing Storm Brian doesn't have other plans, we'll be saying goodbye to Frank - what a turbulant short life that boy has had so here's to a long and happy life for one of the many that has crawled in under our skins recently. I'd actually love to know who bred him, he can run for miles, has perfect conformation and a temperament to die for, this is a bulldog that should be celebrated - unlike those that will no doubt be featured in tomorrows Sunday Times - by all accounts the next round of anti brachycaphalic bashing is set to play out in the paper so batten down the hatches - the storms outside aren't the only ones we should be watching!
This week saw the annual World Mental Health Day, what has this go to do with a rescue I hear you cry? Well in fact everything. One of the biggest reasons for people leaving a role within animal welfare will be due to the affect it has on their Mental Health. Compassion Fatigue is very common and the stress levels involved in the highs and lows that is seeing a dog arrive in a state and then watching him leave for his new life or watch him die can be quite overwhelming and sometimes traumatising.
Over the past few months we've made efforts to incorporate an eye on our staff and volunteers welfare by way of on line information, recources and regular checks. We launched this on World mental Health day and we're pleased to be able to say that many of our volunteers have participated already.
The very nature of the kind of person affected by Mental Health means they are often the perfect candidate for the job, but it's also very common for them to burn out with only a matter of a few years. We hope that the measures implimented this week will help us to help them cope, but please be aware when you call a member of BDR (or any rescue organisation for that matter) they may have had the most awful of days ......
This weeks listings
Easy like a Sunday morning? Woke at 6am with the kennel barking - 20 minutes later a neighbours burlar alarm went off - laid their for ages wondering if the two were connected but I'm sure the sight of me in the street in my leopard print dressing gown was enough to scare any would be burlar away from our quiet country lane. Back to bed and unable to get back to sleep I did the worst thing ever - went on facebook!!!
This question comes up a lot so I thought it would be worthy of an explanation. We often hear people say "oh my kids are dog savvy" - our concern is that the dog may not be "kid Savvy" and subsquently by not putting a minimum age on a dog's rehome requirements could result in a dog being placed in a family and a child gets hurt. Not necessarily bitten, but any incident that could mean the dog is returned. When you buy a pup you are buying a dog with no background, no list of likes and dislikes. It's unclear at that stage how the dog will be with other dogs, how the dog would cope in a busy family environment. It will travel without incident and hasn't yet developed any form of personality. An adult dog is totally different and by placing a dog in a busy family that came out of a quiet environment is asking for failure. The sad thing is these dogs are nearly always the youngsters, from our point of view when we have a huge range of families to choose from getting it right first time is almost guaranteed. This week alone a young dog had 91 successful matches from from 160 applications - 69 families instantly unsucessful and a further 90 who did get selected. His requirements were
Meaning the first 69 either had cats or children under 8 - but that still meant 91 applications had to be painstakenley gone through - by hand! It took our rehomer 2 days to even get a short list and from there she back ground checks her final families before deciding on who gets the dog. Why would we risk putting this dog with a 2 year old when 91 families had children of the correct age?
Sometimes we do change the age after listing, the most recent reason for that was when a dog we had listed as OK with all children growled at my 5 year old grand daughter. On a popular dog we feel that by changing the age will prevent other families with under 5 from wasting their time (and sadly ours too).
But the dogs just keep on coming, although only one listing this week
So Summer is over and the madness that is the build up to Christmas begins. Whilst the media continue bash the popularity of the breed it's clear that whatever your opinion - flat faced dogs are in demand - too much in demand if you ask me and you only have to look over our 16 year history to see how things have changed just in this millenium! Back in the day - back when working for rescue was done by me and my husband and an under 3 was as rare as rocking horse poo - we'd give a couple of evenings a week after the kids had gone to bed and sort out the handful of dogs who's owners cared enough about their future to keep them at home for us. These days we are constantly recruiting foster homes, have a list of dogs waiting for kennel space and the time it demands is off the scale. We've watched, not only the shear number of dogs reach almost crisis point, but also the age of the dogs that need our help get younger and younger and younger - to the point that there are 2 under 1s at the kennel and the average age of a dog needing to be rehomed has dropped from 3-7 years to 1-4 years! In fact I honestly beleive that the popularity is doing nothing to help the future of our breed and it worries me greatly that all the hard work done in the later part of the 20th century is slowly but surley being undone in the beginning of the 21st by idiots that see pound signs instead of a living creature. So what's the answer? Simple - make all breeders licenced! None of this once you've had 4 litters rubbish - you can only breed if you have a breeding licence - regardless of breed, experience or the colour of the offspring. As much as the kennel club do their best - they are a business at the end of the day and priority lays with their own interests.
As much as some of the information given out on the Wright Stuff peice this week was incorrect - I did find it refreshing that for the first time in a long time a vet was prepared to go on TV and state that "not all brachycaphalic breeds can't breath". Unfortunately, until there is stricter legislation surrounding dog breeding I can't see this being a problem that will go away in a hurry. As long as there is money to be made the fad colour issue and back street breeding will continue and the repuation of the bulldog will continue to be pulled apart.
And on that note, here's this weeks new listings
What a week, and a week I'm glad to see the back of to be honest. Last Friday night we collected a dog from Kent, we knew his breathing was bad so made arrangements to do the entire journey feeling that would be safer than a rail road with the owner. He actually coped on the journey home quite well and it wasn't until we were a few miles from the kennel before his breathing went from noise to closed airway. He was taken straight through to the air conditioned area of our kennel and left to settle down and it wasn't long before he was fast asleep - but the following morning - the slightest interaction meant his breathing once again became compromised. Arrangements were made for him to have surgery but sadly he didn't make it, sometimes not being able to help them all really hits you between the eyes and this poor boy certainly was one of them, but there are several lessons can be taken from this situation; a) yes there are bulldogs with breathing problems and no one is disputing that - but more importantly b) the owner though it was normal! The subject of BOAS (Brachycaphalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome) has been brought to the forefront again this week with an interview with Emma Milne on "This Morning" where she says that any noise is unacceptable, this continuous "All Bulldogs Can't Breathe" attitude is putting those that really can't breath at risk simply because the owners think it's normal. I personally beleive there is a big difference between dogs than genuinely can't breathe and those that make upper resportary sounds, I also feel that by blanketing all brachy breeds as "suffering" is irresponsible. If I thought for a second my dogs were suffering they would be put to sleep. I don't want a labrador that needs a 20 mile hike every day - but please a panting dog is perfectly normal and if it had been anything other than a Frenchie panting under those hot TV lights no one would have questioned the health of the dog in question.
I really had hoped that after all the work breeders, breed clubs and individuals had put into improving the health of the bulldog we would start to see some of these anti bulldog vets congratulating the efforts - instead they drag out the same old tired argument that they ALL suffer and this really isn't helping things. Creating a "Them and Us" argument is counter productive in so far as if we all want the same thing why are we so set on this raging war. Crossing isn't the answer either in my opinion as we've seen many attempts to cross the bulldog which only results in the loss of temperament, I've personally seen the bulldog go from a gentle companion to an out of control hooligan over the years I've been involved in the breed - especially the males.
Here's this weeks new listing
Schools back! How do we know? The usual pattern of the first full week back at school and the increase in rehome requests that comes with it. This is the start of the steady rise in requests from now until Christmas from people who want their dog gone before the new year. So sad but also so predictable.
One dog that hopefully won't be homeless at Christmas is the fantastic Bruce - having spent the entire picnic with one family, they came up to the kennel this morning to take him for a walk, sometimes these dogs just pick their families all by themselves - fingers crossed the checks all go through smoothly and our Brucie Bonus will have a bonus of his own very soon.
As you know much of what goes on behind the scenes here at Bulldog Central is done by volunteers, what you might not know is that when one of us goes down there isn't actually anyone there to take the place. In big corporate charities there's full teams of people running the different departments, here there's one of us for each job. Our admin volunteer was taken quite seriously poorly this week, her job is to activate people joining the waiting list and she's bloody good at it too, so it was quite heartbreaking this week when the knock on effect of her not being available meant we were taking calls and emails from people accusing us of all sorts because they weren't activated and worse not taking the reason as a valid reason for the delay. One woman took great pleasure in telling me how terrible it was that she'd had to wait longer than the promised 24 hours and it reached a point where we did have to bring in another volunteer to help clear the backlog - putting people that help us because they want to help us under more pressure than is fair to anyone - paid or otherwise - is simply not on and it amazes me that so many have the "me me me" "I want it now" attitude that is slowly creeping across the human race like a deadly desease!