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Helping Your Dog Adjust to Post-pandemic Life

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only changed the lives of people, but of pets. For dogs especially, social distancing restrictions have meant their owners are home more often, paying them much more attention than ususal. The hard part comes next, when we go back to work and school, and our dogs are left confused and upset at suddenly being left alone again. This is known as separation distress, and it’s every dog owner’s job to help their dog through it. We can’t explain to our dogs what is happening, so it’s going to take effort from everyone in the family to make this change as easy as possible for your dog.

To help with the transition, our Animal Care Manager and Veterinarian Dr Renae Jackson has provided five tips for managing separation distress as we return to work.

1. Gradually build up the length of time your dog is left alone

Before returning to work, dog owners can build up the length of time their dog is left alone until they are comfortable being left for prolonged periods. Start with periods as short as one second and build up alone time at your dog’s own pace. If your dog is distressed, take it back a step and progress more slowly. You can even make being alone fun, by pairing ‘alone time’ with your dog’s favourite chews, treat toys and games. Make sure they have access to their favourite safe resting place, and if you’d like, you can film your dog while you’re away to ensure you come back before they become distressed. White noise such as leaving the TV on at a low volume can help maintain a sense of normality.

2. Help them learn to be independent while you are at home

While it is lovely when your dog wants to cuddle and be near you, it’s important for them to learn how to be comfortable on their own. Use enrichment food toys and puzzles to keep them occupied in the lounge room while you are cooking in the kitchen. Encourage them to rest on a super-comfy bed of their own while you watch TV, not sit right on your lap. Creating short, frequent situations where your dog feels comfortable being on their own can really help to build their independence.

3. Keep your daily routine the same

Once your dog is comfortable with being alone, keep your daily routine the same. Leave the house and feed and walk your dog at the same time each day as you would when you go back to work. Dogs are less stressed when their life is predictable; they can rest easy knowing exactly what to expect. Do this before you go back to work so you can identify and work on any issues that may arise.

4. Understand that your dog is not doing ‘naughty’ things on purpose

If your dog starts showing unwanted behaviours such as barking, digging or chewing, it’s important to understand they are doing this because they are distressed, not because they are being intentionally naughty. Support your dog through this difficult time with calm, gentle teaching and never scold or punish them.

5. Seek help

Seek help for any signs of distress or changes in behaviour as soon as they appear. By enlisting the help of a force-free qualified dog behaviourist, you can be sure you are getting the right help to manage any behavioural issues before they get out of control.

For more information, we recommend the following resources:

Senior Pet Project: Herbert’s Winning Grin

When Michael had to say goodbye to his dog at the end of a divorce, he walked into the Home in December 2019 hoping to find an older dog to share his life with. As he had a look in the kennels, he noticed 10-year-old Herbert, who had been at the Home for six months. Michael had seen Herbert in a video on our website and knew he’d had a rough past. He was brought in with anxiety and some health issues, but after a few treatments and some TLC in foster care, Herbert brought out his “big ol’ grin”, which got Michael hooked.

After seeing how much the staff at the Home loved Herbert, Michael signed the adoption papers and brought him home.

The first month was a bit rough, as it took Herbert a bit of time to settle into a new home and a new routine.Then sometime in week four, things settled down. Michael said, “Herbert clearly realised that this wasn’t another foster home – this was home. He sat down next to me on the couch, put his head in my lap, and fell fast asleep. And ever since then, he’s been the sweetest, happiest, and most obedient dog in the world.” 

Today Hebert is a happy doggo who loves to sleep – on the balcony in the sun, in his bed, under the desk while Michael works, on the couch while watching TV – everywhere. He loves his walks and will go for five or six per day if he gets the chance. In fact, his walks have been keeping Michael sane while self isolating. Herbert also likes chasing balls, but Michael admits he’s not very good at the ‘giving the ball back’ bit.

Best of all, despite his past, Herbert loves people: “He wants to be best friends with every since person he meets, and the absolute highlight of his day is a scratch behind the ears from someone we’ve met out walking.”

We asked Michael what he loves most about Herbert and he told us: “Everything – from his happy grin, to the way he snorts and snores and chase bunnies in his sleep, the way he huffs like a grumpy old man when he doesn’t get his way, his sad eyes and droopy face, his sweet good nature, and the way he makes me feel both unconditionally loved and like I’ve given a sad old dog the loving home that he always wanted… Oh, maybe not everything. He farts like a trooper, but I forgive him for that because otherwise he’s just perfect.”

Thanks to the generous support of our community and those that donate to the Senior Pet Project, we were able to provide Herbert with the treatment and care he so justly deserved before he was adopted. If you’d like to contribute to the Senior Pet Project, you can donate here.

Big Dogs in Small Spaces

Let’s face it – in Sydney, the cost of living means we often have to sacrifice square meterage for a simple roof. You might have to let go of your three-seater sofa or the dream of a grassy backyard, but there’s one thing you shouldn’t have to sacrifice – your dog.

It’s commonly believed that you can’t keep big dogs in small apartments, but the truth is, when it comes to housing for your big boy (or girl), size doesn’t always matter.

So, what does matter? SDCH Team Leader Hannah Turner tells us there are a number of other factors you need to consider when deciding on a dog’s living arrangements. These include:

  • the dog’s temperament
  • opportunities for exercise
  • your ability to maintain a routine
  • the landlord or apartment rules.

Temperament

The specific needs of your dog are often dependent his/her temperament. A puppy full of energy and a belly full of barks isn’t going to fare as well in an apartment as an elderly greyhound who likes to nap. When deciding whether a dog can live in a small apartment, consider:

  • the dog’s tendency to bark. If the barks for long periods of time, consider whether you can train them to minimise barking. Loud dogs tend to irritate neighbours, and may encourage a complaint.
  • the dog’s energy levels. Energy levels vary from dog to dog. This can be impacted by the dog’s age, health, breed and more. In an apartment, you ideally need a dog who is happy to rest or nap quietly when you’re not available. Dog’s high in energy may become destructive when left alone or become unfit and/or stressed in small spaces.
  • the dog’s attitude towards other dogs and people. If you run into a neighbour or another dog in the hall, is your dog going to stay calm? Is it going to be friendly? Your neighbours may have allergies, or may not like interacting with dogs. Similarly, your dog needs to be friendly with other dogs, so everyone in your apartment building feels safe.

Exercise

Even the laziest of dogs needs exercise to stay happy and healthy. The amount of exercise a dog needs will depend on its age, health and individual preference. We recommend talking to your vet to get advice tailored to your dog. Once you have this information, ask yourself – can I commit to providing enough exercise every day?

Exercise doesn’t always mean you need to take your dog on a set number of walks each day. While your dog should walk regularly, there are other ways to exercise them throughout the day. These include:

  • swimming
  • playing fetch up and down the stairs
  • a home-made obstacle course
  • hide and seek (with treats)
  • tug of war
  • toys such as puzzles and kongs
  • training new skills or tricks such as fetching household objects or tidying up their toys.

If you can’t commit to providing enough exercise, you can consider hiring a dog walker or taking them to a doggie daycare.

Routine

Routine can make life a lot easier for a dog, especially in an apartment. If you’re considering keeping a big dog in a small apartment, think about whether you can set regular times for potty breaks, feeding, walking and playing. If you have an unpredictable lifestyle and like to meet up with friends after work, or go on impromptu dinner dates, keeping a dog in your apartment might not be wise.

There are solutions, however, if you can’t always be available at the same times every day. You could hire a dog walker or take your dog to a doggie day care. If you work full time and can’t take your dog outside for potty breaks, you can get a dog litter box.

Rules

Some landlords and apartment complexes have restrictions on dog sizes or breeds. Before you house a big dog in an apartment, make sure to get approval from your landlord or complex manager.

With all that said, having a big dog can be a very rewarding experiencing. There’s more to cuddle, they often make great running partners, and if you live in a small apartment, they’ll encourage you to venture outside more often.

At Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, we have many large dogs that are often overlooked because of their size. Before you rule them out, we invite you to have a chat to our knowledgeable staff who can help you to find the ideal dog for your living arrangements and lifestyle. It may just be your apartment is better suited to a large, loveable American Staffy rather than a pint-sized Maltese.

Interested in finding a dog who would be happy in your apartment? Check out our lovely Jimmy.

From Thin to Thriving: Peewee’s Story

You couldn’t tell now, but one-year-old Peewee came into the Home in mid-March timid and severely underweight. It appeared the sweet boy had a rough childhood, displaying battle scars on his head. When approached, he used to flatten himself to the kennel floor, but the SDCH team have gotten him back on his feet.

To help him gain weight, our vet team put together a special meal plan to help him gradually and safety gain weight. He was given a combination of Hill’s Prescription Diet i/d and Hill’s Science Diet Puppy in small portions several times a day. The puppy food is high in calories and nutritional value, and i/d is great for supporting digestive health, so together, they have been helping Peewee gradually gain weight and feel healthy.

SDCH staff and his foster carers have been spending lots of quality time with Peewee, so today, he’s wags his tail when approached and loves his walks. His foster carer Thomas said he’s a wonderful companion for him and his partner.

“Peewee is a very sweet and tender little boy with so much love to give,” he said.

“We see him getting more confident and affectionate each day. We just love waking up to his wagging tail and wet nose in our faces in every morning. During the day, he’s a very calm little couch potato who is just starting to enjoy a nice chewy toy. Peewee loves a good long walk, especially when we get to meet other local doggies. He’s extremely friendly with other dogs, and would perfectly suit someone with another dog.”

Since being up for adoption, Peewee has received many enquiries and applications, so we’re optimistic he will find his forever home soon.*

*Update: Peewee found his forever home on Easter Saturday!

Senior Pet Project: Lorna Finds Love

Ten-year-old Lorna came into the Home in early March looking like she’d had a rough life on the streets. With matted fur and severe dental disease, it was clear to our veterinary team she was in a lot pain.

As soon as she came into our care, Lorna was given urgent dental treatment. With rotting roots, missing teeth and puss filling her cavities, the team had to remove her remaining teeth – a procedure lasting three hours. They also gave her a major clip, shaving her matted fur short to remove knots and maintain comfort levels while she recovered from her surgery.

Lorna was quick to recover and showed no signs of pain in her post-surgery check-up. She was very affectionate with the veterinary team and accepted headrubs with pleasure.SDCH Veterinary Nurse Caroline said Lorna was an excellent patient.

“She has a much improved quality of life now,” she said.

“She’s a really sweet cat. Everyone who comes across her loves her.”

A short 19 days after Lorna’s arrival, Lorna found her forever home, where she can live out her senior years without pain or worry.

Thanks to the generous support of our community and those that donate to the Senior Pet Project, we are able to provide Lorna and the other seniors, who have often been neglected, with the treatment and care they so justly deserve in their twilight years. If you’d like to contribute, you can donate here.

Covid-19: Temporary Changes at the Home

Around the world, COVID-19 is a huge threat to us all. The pandemic has ground the world to a halt, but every day, council rangers continue to arrive at the Home with Sydney’s lost and abandoned pets. While our work reuniting lost pets with owners and rehoming abandoned pets continues, we’ve had to make some changes to the way we operate to protect the health and safety of everyone who enters the Home including staff, volunteers and visitors. We will keep this page updated as changes occur.

Procedures and safety protocols now in place are as follows:

Reclaiming lost pets

To maintain social distancing requirements and ensure our staff, volunteers and visitors stay healthy, we are limiting the number of people coming to the shelter at any given time.  Reuniting lost pets with their owners however remains a priority for us.

If you need to reclaim your lost pet, please call the shelter team on 9587 9611.  Our team members will talk you through the documentation needed and relevant council statutory requirements to reclaim your pet as well as organising a time for the reunion.

Adoptions

One of the most significant changes is that adoptions are now organised by appointment only. Sadly, in the current environment, we are unable to welcome members of the community dropping in to view the pets in our care.

If you are interested in adopting a pet from Sydney Dogs & Cats Home, our current process is as follows:

  1. Go to our website: sydneydogsandcatshome.org/adopt
  2. Select the pet you think will suit your lifestyle and family
  3. Email the shelter at info@sydneydogsandcatshome.org to request an application form (please note: the name of the pet and the Animal ID can be found on the pet’s profile page)
  4. Upon receipt of your request, an application will be sent and/or a member of the shelter team will call you for a more comprehensive chat. The staff will advise you if there are any special requirements or steps involved in adopting your particular animal.
  5. If the adoption proceeds:
    • you will be emailed the relevant paperwork to be filled out and emailed back before you pick up the animal
    • payment will be made via credit/debit card over the phone or by non-contact payment at the shelter for cash payments
    • the staff will book a time for you to pick up your new family member.

We realise this process is a bit different, but we are here to help you with your new pet as you settle them in. All adoptions come with a three week trial period so you will have time to get to know your animal’s personality at home before finalising the adoption.

We are currently experiencing a significant increase in phone and email traffic and are working with a reduced number of team members, so please be patient as we get to your adoption enquiries.

Foster Care Program

Please note: it may be a several weeks before you receive a response to your foster application.

Information and applications for our foster care program can be found here:  https://sydneydogsandcatshome.org/get-involved/foster/

With self-quarantining in place, we have benefited from an influx of people looking to foster our shelter pets. We are deeply grateful for the support of our foster carers and applicants, but given our limited resources, please be aware it may take us several weeks to respond to your application.

We appreciate your patience and encourage you to get in touch with other local animal rescue group to enquire about foster opportunities.

Volunteer Program

Please note: it may be a several weeks before you receive a response to your volunteer application.

Information and applications for our volunteer program can be found here.

With social distancing laws in place, there have been a few changes at our site in Carlton to ensure the health and safety of everyone who enters the Home. We are deeply grateful for the support of our Volunteers and applicants, however, given these changes, please be aware it may take us several weeks to respond to your volunteer application.

We appreciate your patience and encourage you to get in touch with other local animal rescue group to enquire about foster opportunities.

General enquiries

For other enquiries, please email us at info@sydneydogsandcatshome.org. We are receiving an influx of enquiries, so please be aware it may be a little while before you receive a response. We appreciate your patience during this time.

We need your support!

We are dealing with an immediate loss of income with fundraising events being cancelled due to social distancing laws. We urgently need your support to help meet the shortfalls from our cancelled events and activities. If you are able to support us during this time and are in a position to donate, please consider contributing to our Crisis Appeal.

 

Last updated: 27 May, 2020

Senior Pet Project: Harley’s Happy Ending

Harley (previously Celine) came into the Home in December 2019 as a stray with lots of aches and pains. As an older girl of 14 years, she had a few health issues, so the SDCH team started her treatment right away.

Harley was desexed, had seven teeth and some breast tissue removed and underwent hernia surgery. The team also did some investigative procedures, discovering she has end-stage kidney disease, worsening tracheal collapse and degenerative joint disease in her front legs. While these issues mean Harley has problems with frequent urination, breathing and arthritic pain, she can still enjoy a good quality of life with proper care and health management.

Harley was put up for adoption as a palliative care patient, meaning her new owners would need to provide her with medicine to help manage her disease symptoms. After a total of 62 days at the Home, Harley found her perfect match, Rebecca. After Rebecca lost her dog of 15 years, she started volunteering at SDCH, fostering animals including Harley.

Rebecca said her and her partner fell in love with Harley’s sweet personality.

“We felt we could give Harley a good home for her ageing years,” she said.

“She brings us lots of love and keeps us entertained… She is lots of fun, she loves attention and walks. She will also chase a ball and play games. She is a great companion for me.”

Having a senior dog doesn’t come without its challenges, but Rebecca said having Harley works well with her lifestyle and is very rewarding.

“She needs a bit more care than a standard adult dog with medicine, being careful on the stars, exercise and entertainment, but she is well trained and loves people and other dogs,” she said.

“Mostly she naps all day so she is good for our busy lifestyle, and she’s happy to just tag along to whatever we are doing.”

Harley still had a few issues such as frequent urination, but with a bit of TLC, she’s become a much happier and healthier dog than the one that arrived at SDCH.

“I got Harley just after surgery and she had a few residual issues… but once we gave her the love she needed, all those issues were resolved as I think she was less anxious and happy… She improved leaps and bounds with a bit of love and attention!”

Harley’s been a very busy girl in her new home, shaping up her own Instagram account @harley_in_the_hills – make sure to check it out!

Big Dog Foster Carers Needed

Our Foster Care Program is one of our key projects – providing people with the opportunity to enjoy having a pet in their home without the long term responsibility or financial commitment. While they are in your care, you will get to experience the wonderful aspects of having a pet whilst providing them with a loving short-term home.

We currently have several medium- to large-sized dogs who would benefit from being placed in temporary foster care homes while they wait to find their forever home.  Click here to apply to our Foster Care Program, or foster@sydneydogsandcatshome.org

The below video of Herbert demonstrates the benefits to dogs of being able to spend time in a foster care home prior to finding their forever home.  We are pleased to report that Herbert has been adopted and got to spend Christmas in his new home.

Bunjamin, It’s Not Just Dogs & Cats

As Sydney’s only charity pound it’s not just cats and dogs that the Council rangers bring in to us. Last financial year, we welcomed more than 60 rabbits into the Home. Sadly only a handful were reclaimed by their owners, leaving our team to find new loving homes for the remainder.

As with all the lost and abandoned pets that come into our care we try to set them up for success, investing thanks to the community’s support, in providing them with the veterinary treatment and care they deserve. One recent recipient of this support is Bunjamin.

Bunjamin arrived at Sydney Dogs & Cats Home as a stray bunny with a weepy eye. Upon further investigation by our vet team – which included sedation and X-rays, before his desexing procedure – it appeared that Bunjamin had an abscess in the root of his tooth. This infection was causing his eye to weep.

The team put Bunjamin on pain relief and anti-biotics and organised for Bunjamin to see a specialist as dental work on a bunny is difficult and requires an expert with specialist equipment. Further investigation by the specialist revealed that Bunjamin had an elongated tooth root that is likely impinging on the right tear duct. Although the tooth does not need to be extracted at this stage, potentially it will need to be removed in the future.

Bunjamin’s dental disease also involves malalignment and malocclusion, leading to the abnormal wearing of the teeth. The specialist vets have burred-down Bunjamin’s teeth so that they are now wearing normally. However, they have advised that Bunjamin needs regular dental checks and further treatment as required.

The overall prognosis for Bunjamin is positive. With appropriate ongoing care and treatment, he should have a happy, healthy life. And after spending five months in our care, we are excited to announce that Bunjamin was adopted early in the new year.

We currently have three rabbits in our care waiting to find their forever homes. If you are interested in adopting a rabbit or other pet please check out our website.

Watch Nora’s Tale of Transformation

Nora’s New Family

Thanks to the dedication of our staff and volunteers, and the generous support of our community, Nora underwent life-saving surgery.  After making a complete recovery we are pleased that Nora was adopted into a loving family in mid-January 2020.