It finally happened, after years of waiting and putting it off my husband finally agreed to rehoming a dog! He did want a dog I might add but there was always a reason not to get one just yet.
Once we had come back from our honeymoon I set out scouring the local dog rehoming websites to see if I could find a dog that suited us. Our lifestyle meant that we had a couple of issues to get around before even meeting the dog.
The dog we would be rehoming would need to be ok with cats. Our 3 little furbabies came first and any dog entering the home would need to be ok with them. Not the other way round.
Magic, the boy, hated Lana when we brought her and Gale into the house after losing our previous cat.
We had almost had them for a year and he’d still swipe, growl and moan at her if she happened to walk past him. He didn’t seem to mind Gale. So we knew that bringing a dog into the mix was always going to be interesting.
The girls on the other hand were a complete unknown. They were only 6 month old kittens when we rehomed them and had not had contact with dogs to this point.
A little background to add here, I always say to rehome rather than purchase pets.
The girls are sisters and were found abandoned in a garage alone, so given to Cats Protection Trust. This is an awesome organisation please get your cats from here if you have the chance! Or just donate if you don’t want a cat right now.
As they were found together and snuggled together often the centre was asking that they be housed together. Due to this they had often been overlooked, which I can understand. Most people would take on one cat but two straight away might be too much. Luckily for us we have lots of love to spread between our pets!
We also had our eye on another cat called Cookie who was just a complete fuss monkey and gorgeous. Alas, bringing 3 cats into the house at the same time might be a bit much for poor Magic so we had to decide. We enquired about Cookie and discovered that she got a lot of attention whereas the Girls did not (due to there being 2 of them). That made the decision, we would get the 2 girls and give them a home for Christmas.
And hey if Cookie was still available after the new arrivals had settled we would get in touch about rehoming Cookie as well. As it turned out, the next day we went to pick up the girls and Cookie had already been reserved so we knew we had made the right decision.
But back to the dog!
The other issue with getting a dog was that we both work full time and so the dog would need to be able to be left alone. Not all day as luckily my work is not far away and I can nip home at lunch to let her out etc. In the rehoming centres a lot of dogs need a lot of care and for someone to be there most of the day, which would immediately rule us out.
So I searched high and low for the perfect dog for us, frequenting a lot of the same sites every other day in case they had updated. I looked at the following sites:
Dogs Trust – A national dog charity with centres across the country. We visited our nearest centre a couple of times and they were always very helpful and although busy (we could only go at weekends). They made sure that all questions we had were answered. They also paid attention to the types of dogs we could have and only spoke to us about suitable ones.
Blue Cross – Another national animal charity with centres across the country. They have a very useful filter system on the website so that we could immediately rule out dogs that could not live with cats. Unfortunately this did mean that we were only left with a couple and usually they were smaller dogs (which we had decided was not the right size for us).
Birmingham Dogs Home – Has 2 Birmingham area rehoming centres, however on the website there is only ever about 16 dogs advertised. This is due to the large turnover and number of dogs they have in their centres. I really recommend that you go visit a centre due to this.
Wythall Animal Sanctuary – A smaller animal sanctuary that unfortunately did not have anything suitable for us when I checked but did give a lot of detail about the animals that they had in their centre.
Border Collie Trust – Further away than we would have liked (not their fault) but full of gorgeous dogs. However we had specific requirements and although we enquired about a couple of dogs we were not a match for them so were unable to go any further.
On a rainy Saturday in September we trotted off to enquire at Dogs Trust about a dog called Buddy that I had kind of fallen in love with. When we got there it was much busier than previous visits, there was a 45 minute wait. In that time someone else had already reserved Buddy and there were no other suitable dogs for us.
Feeling dejected we drove away after building up the excitement of finally getting a dog. My husband saw this and suggested we try another rehoming centre whilst we were out and about. So out comes my phone and I start searching, finally remembering that the Birmingham Dogs Home website always states that there are more dogs than they can put on the website. The numbers added up, the more dogs they had the more likely we would be to find our perfect pooch!
We got our instructions from the front desk and went to the first of 3 ‘blocks’. In each block was about 30 pens, some with dogs, some without. Some dogs weren’t available for one reason or another but still you can’t help yourself but coo at them.
The routine at BDH is that you walk around the 3 blocks and take a note of their number and then enquire at the desk for more information about that dog. You can also request to meet the dog and spend time with them outside. There was some info on the pens but not on all and some were sparse.
After doing 2 laps of the centre, to make notes of pen numbers and narrow it down from ALL OF THEM, we made our way to the desk. We had settled on finding out more about 3 of the dogs.
One was immediately ruled out because she could not live with cats. The second Vixen was already reserved but it was due to end that day. Due to this we asked to meet Kenzie, a lovable Staffy with oodles of energy and very friendly.
Whilst out in the meeting/exercise area she was very friendly, enjoyed the fuss and acted like an adorable loon. I loved her. But my husband reminded me that she was quite a bouncy dog. Due to often having small children come round to stay, she may not be the best fit for us.
I ummed and ahhed about Kenzie as we took her back and enquired if we could meet Vixen as her reserved status was due to end 10 minutes later. Vixen was shy and nervous (tail between the legs) but so friendly.
She was a complete fusspot but not in your face. She spent a lot of time trying to get fuss off the rehoming centre worker which was fair enough as she knew her. Vixen was smitten with my husband and kept going over to him for more fuss. In that moment I could see that we had found the dog for us.
As luck would have it a couple of minutes into meeting her we were sent word that the reservation on Vixen had been removed. We were free to have her if we liked. After lots more fuss giving we walked back to Vixens pen. Then straight to the desk to put our reservation on our pup! Whilst we were sat there making the booking the people in the queue behind us came and asked about Vixen. We had almost missed her again. It was definitely meant to be.
We were told that there was a £10 booking fee and we would need to have a home visit prior to taking Vixen home. This is standard practice for any good rehoming centre. The appointment was for the following Thursday and as long as we were approved we could have her home the next day. Obviously due to work we had to wait until Saturday but by god we would be there first thing!
The following Saturday after being approved we went to collect Vixen. We still had some information to go through as well as the remainder of the fee to pay so the same staff member as the previous week went off to bring Vixen out to us (and say goodbye).
We definitely heard her coming, she was barking away as she was so excited to be going somewhere! As soon as she saw my husband she came running over for fuss. I knew we had made the right decision. The in-car harness was put on her and we walked her out to the car. It was at this point that Vixen decided she did not want to go near our car. She wriggled free of the harness and went running back to the centre!
As I followed her calling her name the handlers came running out of the centre doors. As she trusted them were able to catch her so that we could get the lead back on. Not a great start into the rehoming process when she runs away from us 30 seconds after we have sole custody of her!
The handlers walked with us back to our car and then helpfully lifted her up and put her in the back seat next to me.
The staff at the Centre were so helpful and clearly cared about the dogs and making sure they were happy. It was so nice to see how they were affected by Vixen leaving them. Imagine how much time they spend with these dogs day in day out.
I rode in the back of the car with Vixen the whole way home, stroking her and trying to keep her calm. She snuggled up to me and happily laid with me as we drove along.
Once we got home we went for a walk. When we came back we had the same issue getting her up the steps to our front door. She got scared and tried to pull away again. We tried to lift her but she was having none of that from us!
Luckily in the end we were able to coax her into the house, then came the moment we were dreading; meeting the kitties!
It went as well as could be expected. After worrying all week that she would chase the cats Vixen actually was just not that bothered about them. They, on the other hand, had other ideas. They ran a mile and made themselves big and hiss and growled, usual cat stuff.
The cats have still stuck around, so far, even with this new big beastie in the house. We haven’t had one made peace with her yet but they are on the right road. Vixen is actually scared of the cats, which is ridiculous if you have seen her compared to them. They keep her in line though, and amazingly Lana and Magic now get along together and even snuggle up together! Something they would never do prior to Vixen’s arrival.
Apart from a few teething troubles (literally) all in all we have got a really well behaved dog that is a big lovable ball of fluff.
I’d STRONGLY suggest that if you’re looking for a family pet please look at the rehoming shelters in your area. There are hundreds of dogs that need loving homes. Most people go for puppies and spend outrageous amounts. But remember, they are only puppies for 6 months out of the 10+ years you will have that pet. Why not put aesthetics aside and help an animal that really needs it?
Yes if you are in a similar situation to us it is a bit harder to find the right pet for you and there are highs and lows of going to the centres. But think what it means for that dog that has been shunned thus far to finally go to a loving home.
Trust me, if my husband would allow it our house would be full of rescued cats and dogs!
Have you recently rehomed a pet? What was your experience?
Jess (aka Fordith)