They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can give an old dog a new home.

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The USPCA have released some truly upsetting and aggravating statistics on the amount of dogs that need a home in Northern Ireland, something which I have decided to share with you. Last year alone, from December to April, in five short months 166 dogs were destroyed due to not being able to find a home, with 144 MORE unwanted dogs, being left to shelters across Northern Ireland who faced the harsh reality of being euthanised if also unable to find a forever home. The USPCA organisation has stated that ‘The volume of dogs abandoned to their fate by heartless owners remains a major USPCA welfare concern’. Dogs Trust NI have also added that many of dogs are abandoned due to ill-health, age and even simply growing out of the ‘puppy’ they once were. Absolutely shocking.


Many of these dogs that are taken in by rescue centres across Northern Ireland are stray dogs, and according to the Department of Agriculture, more than 6175 dogs were taken in last year (2018) and brought to dog rescue shelters, with less than half (1813) being reunited with their owners, leaving the rest to meet their fate of either being adopted or unfortunately put to sleep.


In 2017, The Department of Agriculture revealed that 5000 dogs were taken into shelters across Northern Ireland. Worryingly, these numbers increased into 2018 which just shows that more action is in fact needed to give these helpless creatures a right to life and a right to be loved. As of the moment, the 2019 figures have not been released yet.


The figures are shocking and may make you think differently about dog adoption. I want you to keep in mind that the point of this post isn’t to tell you that you MUST ADOPT A DOG, but just to make you more aware of the issue taking place in Northern Ireland right now surrounding abandoned dogs, and the need for dog adoption to take place.Today, there are over 70 dogs available for re-homing in Northern Ireland, which you can check out in the links provided at the bottom of this post.


I also wanted to share a little information on my own families experience with dog adoption in this post, which you can read about below. 

I got to meet Woody, who was on holiday at the kennel.

Here’s a little more on my families story.


Just this time last year, my family adopted Max, a really crazy Labrador, with limply leg. We had heard whispers in the village that the local boarding kennels had him, and with hours of working out whether this was a good idea, they finally came to a conclusion. When we got him, we knew from the get go he was a little hyper and would need a lot of work and exercise, but we knew deep down it was worth it, not only us as a family, but for Max too.


This is Max, we brought him into our family this time last year.
Mind you, it did take a lot of hard decision time to make sure we could provide the correct amount of care. As a family we had to make sure that we could fit a new dog around our lives having two parents in the house that work full time, a teenager in the midst of A level exams and myself studying in university.


However, we all thought we might as well go for it.


Getting the dog was an easier process for our family in particularly, as Max had been left at a boarding kennel which we had used before. As well as that, the owner of the kennel was already familiar with my dad so adopting a dog from there would of course be a little easier. Be aware though that we got lucky, and if you decide to use a dog rescue centre such as Assisi, the USPCA or Dogs Trust, the process may take a little longer. All in all though, we found as a family that the process is a rewarding one.


If this post has made the cogs in your mind start to turn, and think what actually could be like to own a rescue dog, or even look into adoption, I thought it would be a good idea to include some things to consider and keep in mind. I  created my own lighthearted steps which you can read about below.

Kristen, one of the employees at Spesmagna Kennels with Toby, who was recently rescued. I spoke to her about dog rescue, you check out the link at the bottom of this post for more.


1. Are you ready? There’s no time to paws.

Before you adopt or rescue a dog, you have to ask yourself, ‘Am I ready for this’. Dogs require a lot of commitment and you have to be ready for all the challenges that lie ahead. The mess, the reaction of the dog, the money and even the poo! Can adopting a fully grown dog fit into your lifestyle? These are some of the things to think about before adopting a furry friend.


2. You’ll need a roof to keep your woof.
You need to consider the type of house you own. You don’t want to adopt a St Bernard into a one bedroom flat! Do you own your house or do you rent? Before bringing a new dog into the house, remember to consider the person who ACTUALLY owns the house. Will the landlord allow a dog? If you are really serious, you may need to rethink where you live. Your newly adopted dog won’t want to end up back on the street! And neither will you.


3. Money can be a bitch, So think carefully.
If you ever make the decision to adopt a dog, always remember to consider the cost factor. Dogs can be expensive, they need food, bedding, vet care and so much more. Here are some costs, to put the money factor into perspective.


– Depending on how big the dog is, for example, food for a small Jack Russle will costs approximately £25 per month, where if you adopted an Alsatian or another big dog, you could be looking at £60-80 on food per month.


– Toys, bedding, treats, ID tag and even crates can all vary in price, if you want to spend big on this part, you can. Or you can opt for the local Pound store that should also have everything you will need. 


– Insurance can cost up to £30 per month.


– Training sessions can cost up to £20 per session, again depending on the size of the dog.


– Monthly grooming from my own experience costs £25 per month.


Overall, dogs DO cost, so you must think of this beforehand.


4. Life is just a walk in the park.
Obviously, all dogs are different and require different exercise needs. Before falling in love with that little or large face, think about your lifestyle. For example, we live in the beautiful countryside surrounded by fields so for my family, we have found a Labrador who fits in perfect with our outdoor life. Max is very energetic, but at the end of the day he will climb onto the sofa and usually fall asleep. If you’re a little more busy, or live in the town, maybe something smaller is the best fit for your lifestyle, if your ultra busy, maybe decide on a cat or goldfish instead. Dogs depend on you for their exercise.


5. Rescue dogs can be a little ‘ruff’ around the edges.
When we first got Max, he was a little timid and shy, although this can be expected. I’d be a little timid and shy if i had to move in with a completely new family. Max with a little time came away from this but this may not always be the case, depending on the background of the dog. Don’t expect your new family member to be perfect, he may seem perfect for you, but like humans, they have emotions of their own.


6. The vet is a must, I Shih-Tzu not.
Okay, so just like us humans, dogs can get sick or need a check up every now and again. Visits to the vets are always a necessity. Boosters, holiday kennel-cough and overall checks are always super important. Vet bills can be expensive, depending on the reason you’re at the vet so always be aware of this.


7. Adore your Labrador and love your Pug.
Adopting a dog has so many great benefits, your giving a dog a new life, a chance at being a normal dog. You’ve got to remember though, they require care, exercise and most importantly, LOVE. It’s a lot like having a child and just like children, they depend on you for everything they need, but will repay you with all the love they can give. Loving your newly adopted dog isn’t short term, so make sure you are ready to make the commitment because if you aren’t ready, it isn’t fair.


Writing this post inspired me to do a little more…


I thought I’d do a bit more research so I took a visit back to the kennel where we got Max. It was strange being back but my plan was to catch up with the employees who helped us get him. I even got to meet some of the dogs who are there on holiday from their families which was nice. I got talking to Kristen and met Toby, a Springer Spaniel who was up for adoption at the time. I got chatting with her and asked her to give her thoughts on dog rescuing. Have a look at the video below to see what she said.


After talking to Kristen at the kennels, I decided to call in with my neighbour Carol who we have known for years. Carol has adopted many dogs from the local animal shelters and I just wanted to find out about her experience with adopting dogs and give you guys who are or have ever thought about adopting a dog, a little insight into bringing a rescue dog into your home. Carol, bless her was so happy to tell me all about her rescue dogs and give her opinion on whether its a good idea, all which you can see in the video below.

It can be scary adopting a dog or even considering bringing a rescue dog into your home. The new routine the dog needs to get used to, the new people the dog will meet and overall, the adjustment to a new life. The most difficult part of rescuing a dog for our family was being unaware of the dog’s background. Is he healthy? Does he have behaviour issues? These are all things which the rescue centres aren’t always aware of when your adopting a dog. With the ongoing problem of the multitude of dogs needing rescued in Northern Ireland, its safe to say no matter who you could potentially pick to bring home, every dog rescued here makes for a little more improvement on the problem.


Whether you decide to adopt from an animal shelter even or a local rescue group or kennel, it’s definitely important to know that you are fully prepared to bring a rescue dog home and into your life. Dogs in need of re-homing as you have read is a problem in Northern Ireland, however I was happy to read that in the last year, more than 75% of dogs that were placed into the foster programme at Dogs Trust have went to find permanent homes as a result of their time in foster care. Families have given these dogs a chance and have fallen in love with the animal that someone before hand just wrote off. The problem is far from being fixed but every little can help. I am just urging you to think about rescue, before going out and buying a dog. You could give a rescue dog the life it deserves and show a dog like this what its like to be loved again.

I have included the webpages for the local rescue centres, if this post has sparked interest, you can find them below.


This is Phyllis, she was left to Spesmagna Kennels initially on a short term basis while her owner was in hospital. Unable to take proper care of her, her owner decided it was best to let a new family care for her. She was rehomed to a local family in Annalong.



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