It’s a dog’s life.
Ann Evans is feeling fortunate that she adopted her rescue dog before the Coronavirus outbreak, when life was normal.
It’s isn’t just people who are having to adapt to the current Covid-19 outbreak, dogs and cats currently in rescue centres up and down the country are having to face changes too.
In line with the Government’s advice and to ensure the safety and well being of rescue centre staff and volunteers, and of course the animals in their care, most sanctuaries have now closed their doors to the general public, suspended adoptions and put a halt on taking in new unwanted animals except in emergencies.
Battersea Cats and Dogs Home said it had suspended its intake and feared it would have to take in a larger than average number of animals once it is able to open its doors again. Head of centre operations, Rob Young said: “It was the first time in our history we’ve closed to the public.”
Happily, from the animal’s point of view, they continue to receive the same, if not better care and attention than they normally would do, despite the strict measures.
Mr Young added, “All the dogs are taken out at least twice a day, the cats are well looked after and given lots of cuddles. We’re using brain games for them as well, so keeping them entertained using lots of different ways.”
Likewise, Birmingham Dogs home and the Wolverhampton centre remain closed to the public and are no longer booking appointments for any services. Their boarding and grooming services are also suspended.
It’s the same story with Dogs Trust. All their centre are closed to walk-in members of the public. Rehoming has been suspended and due to Government restrictions, they are unable to take in dogs to their rehoming centres right now. They do say that if you need urgent help regarding giving up your dog, that you contact the charity and they will offer you as much advice and support as they can.
Dogs Trust have this to say: “We’d like to reassure you that our wonderful staff will continue to provide the best possible care for our dogs, while avoiding any close interaction with each other. We’d like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to those individuals, who are doing everything they can to make sure our dogs get fed, walked and looked after.”
Meanwhile, at home, pet pooches are probably feeling they’ve never had it so good. The family are at home – Mum or Dad possibly working from home, the kids aren’t at school, so lots of fuss and attention than ever before. Plus, regular walks with undivided attention as their human handler isn’t stopping to chat to people along the way, as they normally do.
However, for some dogs, one walk a day, which is what the Government are asking us to do, just isn’t enough, and with all the excitement of having the family around all the time, many dogs need more to keep them occupied.
Here’s a few ideas to help pass the time with your pet.
Long-lasting chews, stuffed Kongs – you can buy treats to stuff the Kong or create your own tasty recipe. Freeze the Kong and its filling for a longer lasting experience for the dog. Likewise, with lick-mats, sprinkle with chopped up tasty snacks or kibble, or smear with doggie peanut butter, liver paste or cream cheese. Many dogs love carrots, so why not freeze some for a carrot ice lollipop your dog will love?
You can buy snuffle mats, where treats are scattered for the dog to root around for. Alternatively, the folds of an old towel would work too. I found that an upturned muffin tin sprinkled with kibble or something tasty provides awkward areas for your pooch to navigate if he wants the treat. Or you could scatter feed chopped up treats, carrot or kibble in the garden encouraging that natural scavenging trait in your dog.
Why not teach your dog a new trick? If it has learned how to ‘drop’ on command, why not try to teach him to gather up his toys and drop them into his toy box? I have to admit I’m still working on that one!
Or show your dog you’re putting a treat inside a beaker or paper cup, then ‘shuffle’ the cups around and see if the dog can choose the correct cup. Also get your dog to wait as you hide the cups for him to find. Alternatively, you could simply hide treats around the house then encourage him to ‘go find’.
Make use of your cardboard recycling by filling toilet roll or kitchen roll tubes with shredded newspaper and a few treats mixed in. Allowing them an item they can rip to shreds provides a better alternative to chewing cushions and curtain hems. Obviously, there will be a lot of ripped up paper to clear up later!
If your dog likes digging, fill up a large box in the garden with soil. Tuck away some ‘washable’ doggy toys for him to discover and watch him go!
So while we can’t get out and carry on with life as normal, we can still find ways of having fun with our pet. You can find more ideas at www.dogstrust.org.uk