Dogs have always been a part of my life. I’m one of those people that sees a dog as part of the family rather than just a pet. So naturally, they get their own little part of my bucket list in the form of a few tick off items and of course, they are the main subject of one of my three chosen charities.
My first dog was an absolutely mental white Boxer. I don’t quite remember the day mum and dad brought her home for the first time, but I will never forget how hilarious and beautiful she always was. Her birthday was the day after mine which I always thought was a really nice thing as she could think any of my birthdays were actually for her. The more I think of it, I can say, hand on heart that she was my best friend growing up.
Dogs are perfect in every way. With the exception of one small detail. If you’re a dog lover, you probably know what I’m talking about. We have to face the sad truth that there is a very strong chance we will outlive them. However insensitive this may sound, one of the best ways to cope with this is to get another one. Obviously, only when the time is right as this can make you feel guilty if done too quickly. The key thing is to always remember them and be thankful for everything they brought to your life. I can tell you now, all four of the dogs that have been in my life that are no longer with us, hold a special place in my heart.
After a mental Boxer (RIP aged 9), two droopy Basset Hounds (RIP aged 16 & 11) and a snoring Pug (RIP aged 5), I am dogless. However, this won’t be the case forever. I can guarantee another pooch or two will be strutting around my house, wagging its tail and panting with a smile on their faces soon enough. For now though, let’s take a look at how dogs make up a few things on my list:
#1 Give an animal a forever home
When you look at places like the Dogs Trust, you’ll find dogs of all shapes and sizes all looking for a forever home – actually, in most cases, rehoming one of them is better than getting a naughty little puppy.
An experienced dog could already be house trained, it could be less effort to look after and pretty much every other plus side of not having a cheeky little puppy weeing all over the place.
Sure, you may not have it for as long if you get a five or six-year-old dog, but that’s not a good enough reason why that dog should be denied living out its golden years with a loving family.
I have made it a part of my bucket list to give at least one dog that loving family home life. Its breed won’t matter, its age won’t matter. All that matters is the dog is given its second chance and I think more people should do the same.
#2 Have a Dalmatian
I must be mad.
I don’t see myself with just one dog in the future. I’m one of those guys that will pop out for bread and milk, and come back with a dog, so I won’t set myself a limit. What’s important to do before getting any dog, however, is to do your research. Every breed seems to have its pros and cons, and you need to make a solid decision on what you can and cannot accommodate. I did some research on two breeds, in particular, Boxers (obviously) and Dalmatians (they are both nuts!)
When I went to Crufts earlier this year with my nan, I was lucky enough to stumble into the Dalmatian group. If you don’t see a Dalmatian regularly, you’ll be surprised at how big they are. It may also surprise you to know that a lot of Dalmatians end up in the rehoming system or even abandoned, due to the fact that a common trait amongst Dalmatian puppies, is that they can be born either deaf and/or blind.
Regardless of this, I think they are a handsome dog, and I would love to take one to the park and play catch until one of us (probably me) is too tired to carry on. I’m going to need lots of space, and the exercise requirement can only be good for my waistline.
#3 Become a dog breeder
Despite what I said earlier about all the downsides of puppies, I don’t think anyone can deny the fact that they are all unbelievably adorable. If you ever need an example of love at first sight, just watch any video where someone is given a puppy.
Being a dog breeder on the outside looks like a joy-filled experience, but from what I can tell by reading other blogs online and speaking to people, this is a very full-on the process, especially if you want to sell the puppies or get a stud from someone else.
There are licenses that you need to hold, considerations for the safety of the mum throughout the process and from what I can tell, it’s always risky from an investment point of view. For example, if all the food, medical bills, stud fees and every other expense comes to more money than you will make when you actually come to sell the puppies, what was the point? All of a sudden, the huge prices for puppies makes a little more sense to me.
For me, it's something I want to take on as an exciting project. If I make some money on it, that would be a bonus, but knowing that I helped bring puppies into the world that could potentially enrich the lives of others is enough on its own… and yes, I would just like to be surrounded by loads of puppies at some point.
#4 Go dog sledding
When I first did a bit of research on this, I saw quite an interesting debate, talking about if this type of thing is cruel to the dogs involved. There are certainly some horror stories out there, that I don’t recommend you read if you get upset easily, however, professionals do not treat their dogs this way and will tell you that they owe everything to their dogs, so why would they treat them badly?
Obviously, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but for me, I don’t think it is cruel, especially if it’s done correctly with the safety and well being of the dogs being kept in mind. I think it’s probably on the same level of cruel as horse riding. There are some benefits to the dog in this:
The dogs get exercise
They get to work as a team/pack
Mushing dogs get the same level of excitement out of it as they do when your domestic dog sees it's lead
They aren’t worked to death – when they get too old, they get to retire and live out their golden years
The dogs are well looked after, with plenty of rest, food and even dog massages after a long day of mushing.
When I do this, I hope to do it in the snow, instead of the cross-country version available here in the UK. I think that’s the real experience.
#5 Be part of a massive dog walk
I saw a video on social media a few years ago of a dog called Walnut, he was 18 years old and he was due to be put to sleep due to ill health. His owner put out a message on social media, asking for any dog lovers to flock to Walnut's favourite beach in Cornwall and join him on his last walk. I’m not sure how many dogs turned up, but the footage showed a hell of a lot.
You can watch the video here.
It really showed me that I’m not alone in my love of dogs and they can be part of something bigger with a good cause bringing them all together. When the walk was over, Walnut was put to sleep that very same day, after being given so much attention and love. RIP Walnut.
From my research I found loads of yearly dog walks all over the UK and the world. In the UK in particular, there’s the Great British Dog Walk and events are put on by multiple charities including DogsTrust such as the Great North Dog Walk which holds the current Guinness world record for the largest amount of dogs on a single walk (22,742 dogs!)
Seeing all the different dog breeds, mixing with other people who share a passion for dogs, getting a little exercise and giving something back – events like this have it all.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little emotional writing this blog, so to clear my head, I’ll be going for my walkies now, with no dog by my side physically, but at least there are four that are always with me in my heart.