Mufasa, my one and only favourite cat.
Updated: Jan 13
Let's start this off with a confession…. one of my favourite ever songs is the Circle of Life. Yes that’s right! I hold Elton John in the highest regard, and I’ll take his song over the big screen version any day of the week. As daft as this is going to sound, the lyrics have always resonated with me ever since I was a child. I could wax lyrical about how The Lion King is the best Disney animation ever made, or how seeing Sir Elton perform live will forever be with me (ticked that one off the bucket list). No, for me, the song’s strength comes from the lyrics. All that we do and achieve during the time given to us, is all part of a bigger picture. That’s why you’ve got to follow your heart, delve into your passions and cherish every damned moment you have. That’s how I try to live my own life and also the same outlook I use for being a dog owner and now dog walker.
I have had the privilege of Rosie being our little fur baby for just under 6 years now. Throughout that time I have laughed at her little quirks, such as her constant one eye open trepidation she shows just before a bottle of prosecco is popped open. I have travelled all around the country with her, enjoying beautiful walks in the Scottish Highlands and also taken her swimming off the Dorset coast. I have witnessed the rising of a 4 legged Labrador celebrity come into full force on our estate, after receiving numerous birthday cards addressed to her from our besotted elderly neighbours.
Just like life, it hasn’t all been plain sailing though. The memory of having to compensate a young Mother £1.20 for her hysterical son’s demolished and now quickly swallowed strawberry ice cream cone shall live long in the memory. I still hang my head in shame when walking past the local Mr Whippy van during the summer months. Thinking now about all of these incredible moments, is exactly what being a dog owner is all about. We’re incredibly lucky to be able to share our homes and lives with such loving, comforting and unquestionably loyal creatures. Would I have it any other way? I doubt it. Would I have a cat? Do I really want a claw-wielding, bird-murdering, catnip-fuelled Edward Scissorhands impersonator under my roof…. I’ll let you reach your own conclusions on that.
So to clarify, I quite like dogs…. cats not so much. We’re lucky to have dogs in our life and your dog I’m sure, is lucky to have you too. So my question to you now is, why don’t we try and open our doors a little more to dogs out there who are desperate to be part of those memories I’ve fondly shared with you already?
Let’s take a step back here. If you just look at Sheffield, the sheer number of unwanted dogs is heartbreaking. If you as a responsible household are looking for a brand new dog, then you’ll not be short on options to bring a new four legged fur ball into your home. You fit all the criteria right? Love dogs? Tick, why else are you reading this blog? Have a secure garden? Tick (even if you don’t, just get a fence). Can you show the dog love and affection? Duh! You love dogs. Double tick. Can provide the dog with safety, give the dog healthy food whilst being in a calm and stress free environment? Triple tick (you’ll practice yoga if things get tough). Perfect! Make that quick call to your local dog charity then and by tomorrow evening you’ll have a brand new dog cuddling up to you on your sofa whilst you watch Coronation Street. Sounds like a plan doesn’t it.
Unfortunately, none of this is a reality.
It isn’t that simple for very good reasons. Of course the local sanctuaries, charities and good natured volunteers need to do all they can to ensure that all dogs go into the perfect home. It’s a given. Damn right it is. This is 2021, where you have to get ID’d for a bottle of non alcoholic prosecco (free tip here, don’t ever try it as it’s HORRENDOUS). Anyway, back to this poor dog living in the local sanctuary. This poor beautiful pooch has unquestionably had a bad start in life, so of course checks, forms and jumping through about 10 bureaucratic hoops must take place before you can even consider getting down to your local independent pet shop to buy the new drinking bowl. I’m not suggesting anything otherwise.
My belief though is that we are quickly reaching a point, where too many blockades are being put up against legitimately caring, dog-loving households that want to make a dog’s life better by providing them with a genuinely better life.
Okay let me put this into first hand perspective for you. 6 years ago, we were desperate to rehome any dog that deserved another chance in life. Maybe Bella, the Labrador brought over from Romania, maybe Pippa, whose owners had decided that she really was just for Christmas.
So we set off by contacting a very well known local charity who had rescue dogs. Unfortunately, our eagerness to do the right thing quickly turned into frustration towards those who ran this particular charity. Don’t get me wrong, we were lined up to obediently jump through the hoops like a semi-final trial of Crufts to show them that we could provide a suitable dog the love they deserve. We could jump through these hoops! Send us those forms we said! Yes of course you can come over to assess the house! I’ll put a pot of tea on. Yes, I have for the past 3 years donated to charities pushing to shut down China’s dog meat markets. No, we don’t have any children and yes of course we’re not members of a far-right activist group who plan on taking the dog to London for a rally. To cut a very long and frustrating story short, we never were given the chance to come and visit Bella or Pippa. After 3 weeks of constant refusals from Wendy (Chief Beefeater/Protector of all dogs) we came to the very sad realisation that the local charity would not be playing ball with us. Until the day I die, I shall never forget the phone call with Wendy. Thirty seconds into the telephone call, I was told that concerns had been raised over our eagerness to adopt a dog….. concerns over why I was so enthusiastic to provide a dog a better home. I’ll just leave that sentence there for you to re-read to let it sink in.
I shall place this on record now and categorically confirm that all sensible and necessary checks should always be completed when a dog is going to be adopted. Of course the house needs to be right for the dog and the dog needs to be right for the house. I just don’t think it’s correct for dogs literally crying out for rehoming, to be denied the chance of happiness again and again. Just like I don’t think it’s right for me to have my age verified at Sainsbury’s for that horrendous £4.99 bottle of No-secco I was reviewing earlier.
Unfortunately for poor Bella and Pippa, they were never given the chance to live with us. So in turn, they were never given the chance to watch The Lion King with her new Daddy. That joy went to our current dog now, Rosie the Labrador. As you can see for yourself, she loves the film just as much as her Daddy does. I guess that really is the circle of life isn’t it?