Adopting a dog from the RSPCA during the Covid pandemic
A guest blog by Lara Richardson, Covid rehomer and new mum to rescue dog, Starbuck.
I have always wanted a small rescue dog with a larger-than-life personality, who would get on well with my other dog, Rogue.
When I saw Starbuck looking for her forever home, I knew that she would be a great match for me. I know that sadly Frenchies can suffer from significant health issues and so I'd never feel comfortable buying one from a breeder. But as an ex-breeding bitch, I wanted to give her a better life than she had ever had before.
Starbuck was neutered, vaccinated and ready to be adopted
Sadly, Frenchies often suffer from severe health and welfare issues because of the way they are bred to look. They commonly have breathing difficulties because they're flat-faced, amongst other issues.
Thankfully, Starbuck was not only spayed before she came home to me and my other dog, Rogue, but the RSPCA had also carried out her surgery in order to help try and alleviate the problems she was having with her breathing.
Unfortunately, because of her exaggerated flat face, even with her surgery, Starbuck's breathing is still strained and she will need careful management throughout her life.
In addition to her neutering and surgery, Starbuck also had all of her vaccinations and a full 'doggie-MOT' ahead of her adoption.
The RSPCA did everything to prepare me for my new rescue dog, Starbuck
Adopting a rescue dog can be stressful - I'd know, I've done it multiple times. You often don't really know who you're getting, how your new addition will impact your life and, in my case, very much about your dog's earlier life. Luckily, the RSPCA made sure that we knew everything that would help make the rehoming process as easy as possible on everyone.
Every dog you adopt has their own individual needs but with Starbuck's breathing, I knew she'd require extra care. The RSPCA spoke to me about the importance of protecting Starbuck from heatstroke, as well as the risks involved with being overweight and of too much vigorous exercise - all things which can exacerbate her breathing problems.
Rogue - my English bull terrier and I, had Starbuck join our little family on July 25th. What has she brought to our lives? Joy. Hilarity. The most pathetic attempt at a bark that I've ever heard (at least the neighbours are happy!), cuddles, TV watching, bravery and... poo-eating (I mean, nobody's perfect, right?).
In all fairness to the RSPCA, the lovely rehoming lady did warn me of the poo-eating. But sometimes forewarned isn't forearmed. Nothing beats racing Starbuck to her own poo, to get it in a poo bag before she gets it in her mouth!
Rehoming during the pandemic: A social-distanced success!
I have been nothing but hugely impressed with the RSPCA and their rehoming process; particularly given the restrictions that COVID brought in. As the pandemic hit, home checks became difficult for the RSPCA to carry out while keeping their team and those who want to adopt, safe.
I was instead asked to send in a home video. This was less 'MTV Cribs', more (not a lot of) 'Cash in the Attic'. Following this, I received a phone call about Starbuck as well as a photo, assessment, and video of her, which really helped me to see and understand her character fully.
I never felt pressured to go through with the adoption
Given the pandemic, I had Starbuck delivered to me (I joke that it was like ordering a pizza - but it was nothing like that). The RSPCA were so thorough and the wonderful rehoming individuals who were involved were amazing.
I thought it showed real integrity that the centre staff maintained their encouragement that if it wasn't going to work, or I didn't feel that the fit was right, that there was no shame in saying 'please take her back with you'. Even when Starbuck was brought to my home.
Fortunately, I wanted nothing more but to keep Starbuck, but I very much appreciated being told that I could change my mind if I didn't feel like my home was going to be the right home for Starbuck. Adopting an animal is a huge commitment and I never felt pressured into it, which only made the experience more enjoyable.
Starbuck's accurate assessment helped me to know what I was getting myself into!
It became abundantly clear that the assessment carried out on Starbuck was absolutely bang-on. Loving, funny, affectionate, and great with all other dogs and children, she's a real dream of a rescue dog.
Unknowns were also honestly noted: 'Crate trained?' - 'Unsure', Starbuck's assessment stated. 'House trained?' Again - 'unsure.' When you know what to expect and what the unknown areas are for your new family member, it makes it a lot easier to assess whether you can take that dog on and provide him or her with the training they need.
I was more than happy to crate train and toilet train Starbuck - and overall she has lived up to her namesake and been a star. We've had the odd accident, but she is an ex-breeding bitch, and this is an entirely new situation that she has been thrust into.
Seeing Starbuck grow in confidence has been incredibly rewarding
Starbuck is the most adaptable rescue dog I've ever had the pleasure of having as a part of my family. The first time she saw and heard a car, she cowered on the floor. The next time she became a little braver, and now she LOVES going to the car and getting in - because we're going for a walk - one of her new favourite things ever.
She's a total joy and Rogue and I would be lost without her. Because who doesn't want to be woken up by an affectionate pup in your face at 5 am telling you she needs a wee? Still - at least she's telling me. House trained? Check.
Find out more about rehoming during the pandemic
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