News and Media

‘Barking’ the trend

October 21, 2012
Sandy and Francis Dwyer

Turning 16-years-old is a huge feat for a Labrador, or any large dog for that matter. Celebrating a milestone birthday this week with a visit to the doggy hair dresser, Sandy, a former resident at The Lost Dogs’ Home North Melbourne, is as happy and healthy as can be.

Proud owner, Francis Dwyer adopted Sandy from The Lost Dogs’ Home in North Melbourne back in 2001 when he came in to look for a new “four-legged family member”.

On arriving at the Home, Francis remembers feeling that “…dogs of all shapes and sizes were saying, ‘choose me, take me’”.

“Near the end of one aisle was a five-year-old cream coloured Labrador. He was lounging on the floor, only moving his head for a look around and then flopping it back down. Our decision and choice was simple. Sandy was coming home with us.”

Francis admitted that bringing a larger dog was a new thing for his family of dog lovers, “Over a period of 60-years and several generations, my family has always had a dog, but usually smaller dogs like terriers and corgis.”

To help Sandy adjust to his new home, Francis used regular routines that made him feel safe and comfortable, “Sandy had probably suffered some level of mistreatment or neglect, so we decided that in order to settle him and develop trust we would create a routine that he could predict and therefore feel secure with. We fed and walked him at the same time each day. This combined with lots of hugs and affection worked a treat!”

Within weeks of moving in to the Dwyer family, Sandy had settled into his new family life, “After a week he started showing his independence and within three weeks the strict routine (apart from feeding time) began to lapse a little. Sandy was now part of the family and we could not have believed that he would still be with us eleven years later.”

Despite his age, Sandy rises very early in the morning and likes breakfast to be ready and served at 6.45 am, to be exact, “He is still capable of poking and nudging any human being out of bed. His diet is varied and includes the usual bought dog food as well as uncooked bones.”

Possibly the secret behind Sandy’s youth may be in the smelliest of seafood, Sardines. From time to time, Francis said Sandy indulges in, “Porridge in winter and oily sardines on crusty bread in summer – both are real treats.”

Despite breaking the family tradition, Francis said he could not be happier with his decision to adopt a larger dog, “For a dog that is 16-years of age he is in remarkably good health and apart from a visit to the chiropractor every 6-8 weeks he has been a great dog to care for.”

At the age of 90, Francis’ mother and Sandy’s best friend passed away. Francis said that the two had made a very strong connection over the years and that Sandy had been the perfect companion to her,

“He really connected with my mother prior to her death. She was a dog person all her life and had a great affection for him. Sandy would always keep my mother company when there was no one at home- they would spend a great deal of time together. They both loved sitting in the garden in the sun together. He truly was a great companion dog to my mother.”

“For all the time Sandy has been with our family he has given us tremendous joy and great affection. We in turn are grateful to The Lost Dogs’ Home for giving us the opportunity to adopt Sandy into our family – we consider him one of us,” he added.

From all of us at the Home, we wish Sandy a healthy and happy 16th birthday!!