These are my dogs. Biscuit the Bichalier (L) is almost 14 and Ella the Cavoodle is almost eight. I love them to bits and they love me unconditionally.
I brought them into the office for a couple of hours yesterday (Friday) because reporter Ruby Pascoe's story about the local animal shelter being full was weighing heavily on me. The thought of so many people giving up their dogs made me want mine even closer.
I understand there are those who have no choice but to surrender their pets, I really do. But I cannot comprehend how some people can just dump them - especially the old ones. And to leave them at the side of a road or in bushland to fend for themselves, beggars belief.
It's always been this way, sadly, but cost of living pressures and a lack of pet-friendly housing in this region means even more are being abandoned.
My now grown children and I spotted Biscuit in a store in Sydney on our way to pick-up groceries. A slightly turned eye meant he was the last one left of his litter. One look at that gorgeous face watching sadly as all the "perfect" puppies around him were chosen and taken home, and we just knew we wanted him in our family.
"Guess what we got at the shops", the kids yelled excitedly to their Dad as we interrupted his weekly tennis game. His mates bellowed with laughter, knowing how much work was ahead, but he too fell in love instantly. Not once have we regretted that trip to the shops.
He has been a source of fun, exercise, companionship and comfort. While a recent medical scare left us in floods of tears and has caused us to worry about him every day, we will do whatever is needed to keep him happy and as healthy as his age will allow.
Ella is our little rogue. She was fully grown when her first owners gave her up. After we adopted her, she quickly discovered I was the soft touch when it came to treats and cuddles, and has been my shadow ever since. Even though she and Biscuit are inseparable, and she is equally wrapped in attention, she still carries a degree of insecurity. I just know it stems from being passed on.
As much as I can't imagine ever being without them, I haven't thought about where they'd go should something happen to my husband and I.
To mark International Cat Day (August 8) and International Dog Day (August 26), the NSW Trustee and Guardian is encouraging owners to think about including arrangements for pets in their wills. Who would we want to look after them? Would that person be in a position to take them?
It's a valid suggestion given many animals being surrendered are from the homes of the sick and the elderly.
Fortunately, prospective new owners have come forward this week to adopt some of the dogs from the shelter in Ruby's story. But there were 60 dogs on its waiting list to be surrendered, so their kennels will undoubtedly fill again.
Ultimately, education, planning and compassion are needed if we are to ever get these numbers down.
If you ever need to surrender a dog or any other pet, contact Port Macquarie-Hastings Council or your local animal shelter. Dumping should never be an option.
Editor, Port Macquarie News
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