As I entered the grounds of SPCA Otago last week, a cacophony of deafening barks welcomed me. It was the sound of dozens of dogs competing for the attention of the potential shoppers browsing the cages.
It was Monty the Greyhound cross who earned the attention of the passing buyer – his charm was his quiet reserve compared to all the other loud barkers. As I entered the puppy section, two men and one of the vet nurses followed me in, and the vet nurse stated in a manner of fact tone:
“You can hold him while I jab him.”
Referring of course to the vaccinations Monty was to receive since he had been officially adopted.
SPCA Otago is a strange place to visit – there is an air of sadness for sure, especially down the hills where the mature dogs are kept, but there is also a sense of overwhelming warmth. The employees dedicate their lives to caring for a myriad of animals, and their love for the job permeates throughout the whole place.
Dogs end up at the SPCA for a variety of different reasons, but what they have in common is they were all unwanted by their previous owners. They come from mutt litters that don’t sell; they are found abandoned on the streets; and from homes and families that can’t accommodate them anymore. Most of the animals in the SPCA have seen at least one family come and go, loving or not, and for many it will take time to adjust to another one, especially if they are older dogs.
Before we buy a dog, we have to be absolutely sure we can dedicate ourselves to their entire lives, and that we have absolutely everything they may need – food, shelter, exercise, and love and attention. If we can’t tick all these off, we should wait until we can. Dog adoption and abandonment is on the rise in many countries, and theorists are speculating as to whether this is correlated with the increased popularity of dog media online – breed photos, cute Youtube videos, etc. If there is truth to this, then it is more important than ever to reiterate the ‘dog is for life’ dogma (excuse the pun), especially by a resource that is technically ‘dog media’.
Perhaps it is also important to highlight that I grew up with dogs, and desperately want one of my own (when my partner and I moved overseas my mother made him promise he’d stop me from buying one) but as a student and a bit of a nomad I know it isn’t the right time. In the meantime, I find immense pleasure in visiting friends’ dogs, walking through dog parks, and writing dog blogs! If you’re looking for somewhere to satisfy your canine cravings, the SPCA is an awesome place to start – all the dogs there are in need of some serious cuddles. And if you’re ready, you’ll find some appreciative and loving purchases there too.