There I was one night in October last year sitting at a friend’s house when she happened to mention they were looking at adopting a rescue dog after seeing one on the web. What’s this? I asked, I hadn’t even heard of rescue dog web sites, what were they, how did you find one, what did they do?
Later that same night I was glued to the computer in total bewilderment at how many gorgeous dogs Australia wide needed rescuing. I searched web page after web page totally blown away by both the heartbreaking reality that so many dogs needed help and the obviously selfless work of the hundreds of volunteers keeping them alive right across the nation.
Right there and then our plan to look into getting a puppy went out the window, replaced by a very definite decision that we would rescue a life and offer a deserving dog a home to be loved and looked after forever more.
First task was to find a dog and breed best suitable to our circumstances. That may sound selfish, but in reality we had some important considerations including the happiness and well being of a five year old child who although extremely comfortable with relatives and friends dogs had never owned one of his own. We had to make sure we could find a dog gentle enough to tolerate a young enthusiastic boy, but with the playfulness and energy to keep up with him.
This was a forever commitment – a companion that could grow old with ourselves and our son...who would be around well into the golden years and would love us as much as we would love it. This was not nor should ever be an impulse buy, after all that’s why quite a few of the dogs end up being rescued in the first place – discarded when the puppy grew ‘too big’, or when training was ‘too hard’ or when owners became ‘too busy’!
And so we ended up at Labrador Rescue. With years of Labrador ownership behind us, we knew that this glorious breed was perfect for our family...a friendly, loyal, smart, energetic and loving breed that would run with us, play with us, lie with us and grow with us.
Next came the nervous bit. We had found a web site with some great dogs but the big question was not whether they deserved us but if we deserved them! I filled out the questionnaire and waited, hoping that Labrador Rescue believed we were worthy of one of their dogs and hoping that this journey would end happily for all involved.
Within days an email came back seeking more info on some things we had mentioned. My stomach hasn’t churned so much in such a long time, as I hoped that we had passed the test and we could be considered for a home. It’s funny when you set your mind to something how important that becomes and how often our entire family felt the urge to log onto the Labrador rescue website for a peek at the girls and boys needing new homes.
So when the call came to say ‘yes’ we were elated, but when reality hit that all the dogs were based on the east coast of Australia and we were based on the west coast the elation quickly subsided. We could have a dog but with the added expense of an airfare to bring our new family member from Canberra to Perth our plans came to a temporary halt. The next few days there was plenty of soul searching, lots of number crunching and a whole load of wonderful support from the lab rescue crew who even managed to find a friend flying from Canberra to Perth who would willingly transport a dog at excess luggage rates. The wheels were back in motion and the search was on for our new family member and one black lab in particular was high on the list with a relative in Canberra even lined up to pay the potential adoptee a visit for a meet and greet on our behalf.
There was only one problem though. It turned out the flight to Perth was not direct, but rather via Sydney and no one, not Lab rescue, not the traveller and not us, wanted to put any dog through transit – with no idea who would care for it, how long it would wait and where or what else would be bundled up with it. The best laid plans had fallen in a heap and we were back to number crunching once again. Could we or couldn’t we spend so much money on an airfare? Would another dog come up in Perth via another rescue service if we waited? Could we really walk away from offering a forever home to one of the gorgeous animals on the webpage? All of these were questions that we kept tossing over and over in our head.
Logic was telling us that if we went for a pure bred puppy the cost would be higher than flying a rescue, plus we would be not only saving a life but we would be getting a dog that had been cared for and assessed by wonderful foster carers and a dog that we knew would be carefully handpicked for our needs and our family dynamics. The clincher came when the first black lab we had our hopes set on was adopted by another great family while we were still deciding and while he went off to eventually find an amazing forever him, we knew immediately after missing out on him that we didn’t want to miss out on another. So what if the bank balance was a little drained! It’s only money!
Having said that though it would be dishonest to say it was a total fairytale, as Roxxi did try on a few little behaviours when she first arrived including her misguided attempts to be leader of the pack as well as having some ‘blond moments’ on the lead. But without hesitation the Lab Rescue crew were firing off ideas and training techniques to us over the email and offering moral support and good advice from afar and within a week Roxxi’s niggly habits had all but disappeared. She had relaxed and so had we!
Today, it feels like she has been with us forever rather than a few months. She has completed her first RSPCA training course, has made a mountain of new friends at the doggie park down the road, has dipped her toes more than once in the Swan River and is heading for her first paddle in the Indian Ocean this weekend. She had become quite the hit at T-ball training, had her tummy rubbed by everyone who comes to the front door, been bossed around a little by my parents 11 year old Goldie and has now lost more than 9 kilos of excess weight with around 5 kilos to go.
Could we imagine life without Roxxi – definitely not! Will we rescue another lab in the near future – absolutely! (once we save another airfare!) Would we recommend you do the same – without hesitation!
When her wonderful brown eyes look up at you from this shiny black face and your heart starts to melt you can’t help but wonder how anyone could have left her at the pound unwanted and unloved. But then you think deep down inside thank goodness they did and thank goodness that Roxxi was one of the lucky ones to be collected, cared for and eventually sent home to us by the wonderful gang at Labrador Rescue!
- By Carole Kerr
(footnote – I was so impressed by the amazing work of the Labrador Rescue gang that I have since become a volunteer, helping out via cyberspace from WA in any small way I can)
See how beautiful Roxxi looks now
an amazing transformation from the 'tank' we picked up from the pound :-)