Early last year, the BBC approached The Lost Dogs’ Home to see if they would be interested in taking part in a new series ‘Don’t Blame the Dog’. Seeing an opportunity to reach out to a global audience and educate people on what it takes to be responsible pet owners – we said yes!
A few months later, the BBC crew arrived, bringing with them Brits Mishak and Amy, who were acting irresponsibly when it came to their beloved dogs. Backyard breeding and a misbehaving pooch saw them fly across the world to learn a few valuable lessons at the Home. The BBC and our team then followed their remarkable turnaround as they spent a week working hard – cleaning, feeding and training a dog each with the aim of finding them new lifetime homes.
Day by day, the bonds between the pair and shelter staff grew, as they were confronted with some tough realities that changed their outlook on what it means to be a responsible dog owner.
Mishak and Amy both loved their dogs but were oblivious to their responsibilities as pet owners. Mishak came to the Home as a backyard breeder, who refused to use leads to walk his staffies and taught them to be aggressive. He would also sell his puppies to anyone he met in the street.
In one week, he learnt the importance of a socialised, well trained dog and the detrimental role backyard breeders play in contributing to the surplus of abandoned dogs in shelters. The opportunity to spend time at the Home led him to make his own special discovery of his natural talents in dog training – talents that our staff nurtured and encouraged.
Glamour model Amy had given up training her dog Milo, putting him at great risk of being hit by a car and allowing him to continue to be a nuisance. However, by the end of her week at the Home, she had taught manners and obedience to Cleo, the young and exuberant Labrador pup she had been assigned to train.
Amy proudly assisted in Cleo’s adoption, making sure the new owner knew everything he needed to know to be a responsible owner. Time at the Home gave Amy new found confidence that she could face and overcome challenges. Upon her return to the UK, she was able to change her own dog Milo’s behaviour within a month of being home.
The premise of ‘Don’t Blame the Dog’ was to demonstrate why there is an increase in dogs behaving badly and a marked increase in the number of dog bites in Britain – and as it turns out, it is mostly due to poor ownership.
This is not news to the The Lost Dogs’ Home; we deal with the results of irresponsible pet ownership on a daily basis. Also we know it is not just a problem unique to the UK or Australia. The Home’s dog experts, Sue, Nicole and Jodie, were inspiring as they helped two irresponsible pet owners grow in to responsible pet owners and advocates for good training.
Judging by the feedback and messages of support we have received, their efforts have also touched many more pet owners across the UK. We sincerely hope the program will help in some way to helping break the cycle of irresponsibly owned dogs admitted daily to shelters.