In every shelter, there are always the dogs that have been overlooked for one reason or another and don’t even get the tyres kicked. You’d assume that these would be the reactive dogs, or the very, very timid or the much older senior resident.
At HUHA we have some of the nicest dogs in the shelter, without a lie, that are being constantly overlooked. They are friendly, they are loving, they are young and happy, they are gorgeous. Any other dog in the shelter like these dogs would have attracted interest and they would be in loving homes in a heartbeat.
So what is the barrier here to taking home a beautiful dog? Well, it looks like dogs with disabilities are a step too far. People will take dogs that will need a lot of educating and training and have had dodgy pasts but these manageable health conditions seem to put people right off.
We want to see these dogs get a chance at a happy life and we want to see people take home a really lovely dog that they will be proud to own and share their lives with. So let’s take the lid off and shine the old goose-neck lamp on what seems hard about this.
Hip dysplasia – seven youngsters with perfect temperament and their lives ahead of them
We have seven young huntaways from the same litter, they’d be 12 months old now, who came to us with no life experience and varying degrees of hip dysplasia. They know nothing about this – they run about together and one of the greatest delights of a morning is to see them all run out of their bedrooms into the paddocks and gambol about full of joy and unrestrained love of life. They have been at HUHA for four months now and have thoroughly got the hang of collars and walking nicely with lead and halti and they love people and have learned how great humans are; the pats, the hugs, the entertainment, the unconditional love. They are so young at heart, these seven. We have four girls, Daisy Sadie, Lily and Heidi; and three boys, Ted, Dudley and Roger.
What could be involved with hip dysplasia?
Hip dysplasia is a deformity, an abnormality of the ball and socket joint in the hip. If the ball and socket don’t fit snugly, they grind against each other. This causes an inflammation and they will suffer pain and arthritis can set in. Not all dogs with the condition even show any symptoms and like everything else, the severity is different from dog to dog. But it is a condition that can often be managed.
Dogs with hip dysplasia can live the same enriched life as any other dog, with the right treatment plan in place, but you need to be mindful of their condition (as you would be with an old dog for example). Things to take into account and include:
- A warm and dry place to sleep – inside your home as part of the family us a must!
- Soft bedding – a decent soft mattress
- Exercise is important but it needs to be tailored to their wellbeing. Walks are fine if they are ok with that; swimming is really good. Nothing too energetic and athletic
- Keep an eye on the weight (they mustn’t get too heavy)
- Treatments you would consider for arthritis – joint supplements, pain medication when needed (in consultation with your vet). Ultimately you can have an operation that removes the ball part of the ball and socket unit altogether – this is called Femoral Head Osteotomy (or FHO) and HUHA will pay for this operation at whatever point one of our seven needs it.
Currently, having been thoroughly checked by a vet, none of our seven huntaways are in any pain, though many of them are showing the loose-gaitedness of a typical dog with hip dysplasia.
We often have people who will take on a senior dog of 10 years plus, knowing that they have or will soon have medical issues but wanting to give that dog some wonderful love and experiences before their natural end comes upon them – they don’t want to think of an elderly dog living out its last years in a shelter. Strangely, people don’t feel that way about these young dogs who have so much to give and are only one year old – their lives have only just begun and as you can see, none of the above is too hard.
Wanting to make a difference, not wanting to be set up to fail
All dogs have something you have to work on. They are not machines, they are like us (though kinder and more forgiving). Many people are keen to take a dog from a shelter and give that dog and themselves a chance to have a wonderful shared life; many people are happy to take on a project.
Consider these dogs mentioned above. There are many acceptable reasons for not taking on a particular dog – hip dysplasia shouldn’t put a lovely dog out of your reach.