Monday 01, May 2017 by Georgina Enzer

Finding the right family pet

I have been toying for quite some time now with the idea of getting a dog/puppy for my little boy.

He is at an age where all of his friends have dogs, and he enjoys going to their houses and playing with them. A year ago he was afraid of dogs, except very little ones, but the constant socialising with boys his age with their own faithful furry friends has eased his fear and made him want one of his own.


I never realised however, just how hard it is as a parent to choose the right dog for your family. I had one certain parameter that I was sure of. Whatever we get, it has to be a rescue dog/puppy from a shelter. I do not want to buy a pure-bred or a pure-bred puppy.


This country is overrun with dogs and cats that have been dumped by expats fleeing debt, have had to leave the country at short notice due to job loss, cannot afford vets bills, or, more abhorrently, have simply decided they can’t be bothered to look after a pet any more.


Sadly, in the case of expats having to leave due to job loss, the costs of exporting a medium-sized dog can range anywhere up to AED 20,000 per dog, or more. If people are fleeing the country with no money, and having not saved up to take their pets with them, there is no way they can afford to relocate their pets.


This leads to them being dumped – partially also, I think, because there are not nearly enough sponsored animal shelters, or, in fact enough animal shelters, full stop, to take the stream of abandoned and abused animals that seems to turn into a torrent every time school holidays begin and expats move on.


So, that was criterion number one, criterion number two is that we do not want a small yappy dog. This is a personal choice. I am not a fan of small dogs and the incessant barking is not only a pain for the owner, but also any neighbours! (I would love to find the neighbour who thinks it is acceptable to leave their poor dog outside in the garden all night barking in this heat - and give them a piece of my mind).


So, armed with this criteria we went hunting on the Facebook pages of several well-known rescue groups, including K9 Friends, RAK Animal Welfare and SNIFF. But how to choose?


We showed my son a couple of pictures – it seemed a good way to begin the process - and he liked a medium sized spotty dog because it looked like Marshall from Paw Patrol. That seemed like a good enough place to start. We went to meet him in a kennel environment and he seemed sweet, but upon bringing him home for a home trial, he was just not suitable around children. So, we took him back to the shelter and gave them a full report of his behavior in the hope they can find him the perfect home.


Sadly, so many of the rescue dogs do have issues related to being abused and poorly treated, and many times these issues are not immediately visible. That is why taking the adoption process slowly is a huge must. You cannot simply walk into a shelter, pick a dog and know that it is the right one forever. It takes time to find the right fit, and sometimes the dog will need extra training, someone to come and analyse their behavior and help you work through their issues (if it is an older dog). If it is a puppy it will almost certainly need to be house trained and obedience trained.


Picking up a shelter dog may make you feel good on the inside, but unless you are prepared to go slowly and work at helping the dog trust people again and get used to a home environment, you may be barking up the wrong tree.

Today, we went back to the shelter and found three dogs that have great temperaments, we are going back later in the week to spend more time with the three and see which one my son bonds with. Only then will we take it for a home trial.


They are three very different looking dogs, one German Shepherd-type young girl, found at the Municipality shelter who is desperate to be outside and play and see the world, one large black dog with HUGE ears who is the most chilled, calm, kind gentleman you will ever meet (he even gives you his paw), and a small brown girl of completely indeterminate breed, but infinite energy for playing and cuddles (she stands on her head to get tickles!).


I hope one of these three will be our forever dog. We shall soon see!