5 days dogs, dogs, dogs - and Ireland!

By Jutta Steffens-Carter, free-lance journalist, living in England.


An old friend of mine lives in Ireland - and for some reason she has now a small dogs home. In Ireland, stray dogs put into the dog pound are destroyed after 5 days - and there are huge amounts of stray dogs! Beaver & LillyAnimal welfare is only in the beginning in Ireland. As so many dogs are dumped, forgotten etc., my friend could not resist to try to do something for them. She now concentrates on Border Collies/Working Sheepdogs/Farm Collies and tries to find good new homes for them. Most are re-homed in Germany, some in France, The Netherlands and Switzerland. Two animal welfare groups, Pro Animale and Collies in Not (collies in need) have each found a new home for one of the dogs in Germany. There is hope that these organisations can find new homes for more dogs, but most re-homing is currently done on a private basis. Sadly, this makes home checks impossible at the moment.

At the moment, my friend has nearly 30 dogs, 10 of these are now her own, and all are rescues. Luckily her house is fairly big and her property is of a good size as well.
Tyrone & MaraAnyway, a few months ago she asked if I could "dog sit" for a weekend as she wanted to go home to Germany for a visit again at last. Of course I said yes. I am a volunteer for 2 dog shelters here in England - how could I resist?? If I had only known.
I realized it would be a lot of work, so I immediately phoned my sister and asked if she knew anybody who would come to help me. Luckily, a friend of hers did want to come along. She is an Agility-Trainer in Germany, so she was looking forward to spend time with loads of Border Collies.
I went to Ireland on the Tuesday to have some days to learn what to do. Susanne followed on the Friday.

These are the dogs that have found a new home with my friend:

Elkie, Floppy, Foxy (3x Norwegian Elkhound/Labrador crosses), Toby (Collie-Pointer-Cross), Teddy (Border Terrier/Dachshund cross), Otto (Pointer, mentally retarded, ca. 7 years old), Ben (Border Collie, ca. 10 years old), Grumpy (Norwegian Elkhound, ca. 13 years old) and the twins Yanni and Becky (Border Collies, 8 months old)

The Border Collies waiting to find a new home in Germany:
Tom, Dick, Harry, Milly (3 months old shorthaired Border Collies), Cahir, Cashel, Carrick, Suir, Nenagh (10 weeks old tricolor longhaired Border Collies), Lucky (Border-Whippet Cross), Tim (Border Collie Cross) and the Border Collies Marley, Higgins, Flynn, MacGregor and Little Feather.

The day is as follows:
Getting up at 5.30 am (the barking puppies make sure you do get up!)
Otto and Little Feather sleep in the hall with Ben and these two are taken out on a lead - Otto, because he has a 25cm long stitched wound on his right hip, Little Feather, because she is shy and scared. Ben just goes by himself.
GrumpyGrumpy, Yanni, Becky and Teddy go in the first paddock, Grumpy is then directed to the 3rd paddock, where Ben is already waiting for him. Little Feather has breakfast inside the house before joining Ben and Grumpy in their paddock. The puppies usually stay in the kitchen, where they are allowed to "do their business" too - it has to be cleaned anyway. Teddy, Yanni and Becky are later joined by Lucky and the puppies Lucky looks after (Tom, Dick, Harry and Millie). All dogs eat together in their paddock. If the weather is good, Yanni and Becky later go into the big Collie paddock to join their mother Higgins, who lives there with Marley, MacGregor, Flynn and Tim. Then the "elkies" and Toby are fed and put into their own run. In the evening, when my friend comes home, the Border Collies can run free in the garden.

In my friend's house, doggy rules are a bit different than at other people's houses. Visite Irland Border Collii's in Not ...As her dogs are alone during the day, they can hop in and out of the windows of her house in and out of her run all day long. For this, they do jump onto the worktops and windowsills in living room and kitchen. They are actually allowed to do that. Obviously, they are not allowed anywhere near the sink. We did not have any problems with that as we were at home all day. This is only my friend's own dogs, not the ones to be re-homed!
To get the dogs from garden into kitchen, they actually all obey to "all dogs in the kitchen". If one wants the kitchen to be dog free, they all listen to "all dogs in there" with your arm pointing towards living room or run. To get the dogs off the worktops or the furniture, "get down" does the trick. It really works - I would not have thought so!

All dogs have to sit down before they get their food and before they are allowed to run into the garden (only Teddy does not sit on the tiled floor). This is the first ground rule all new dogs have to learn, even the small puppies which occasionally arrive here at 7 weeks of age. But the latter understand quickest and after 2 days at the latest there is no jumping up and down anymore.
Grumpy usually gets a snack before he goes to sleep (a sausage, for example), Otto usually an apple.

All this sounds fairly easy, I suppose, but it really is very hard work. As I did not know the dogs very well and was a bit afraid that there might be a fight, I only let the dogs out together that live together, just to be on the safe side. This, of course, meant that I was constantly on the run - I couldn't leave the poor dogs inside for too long.Visite Irland Border Collii's in Not ...

Also, runs, beds etc. have to be cleaned daily. Sadly, just before my friend left for home, there was none of their usual food available in the pet shop anymore. We had to use a new brand of food - suddenly. This meant that all dogs had a touch of diarrhea, but I don't think anybody would really like to imagine that … It meant, for us, a lot of scrubbing and bed washing - at least 3 loads of washing every day! Cleaning therefore took a lot longer than usual (all dogs are actually house trained- but with a problem like that…). Additionally, the old boy Grumpy is a touch incontinent. As the puppies go inside as well, we were constantly washing the floor. But there is not much one can do about the smell of so many puppies that relieve themselves in the house! At least it really is cleaned daily.

To top it all, it rained nearly all weekend. My helping friend and I looked like mud-wrestlers by 6.30 in the morning! Border Collies (funnily enough, not the other dogs!) tend to jump up. I know one shouldn't let them do it, but how to be strict when all the dogs want is a bit of attention and a cuddle? I couldn't resist and nor could my helping friend.

Anyway, we just spent all day with the dogs,. We wanted to make sure that all dogs got some attention. My friend Susanne spent hours with the Border Collie puppies (they are rather irresistible) whereas I looked mainly after the old dogs, especially Grumpy and Otto. Somehow I find it even more distressing to see an old dog being dumped than a young one. Old dogs don't stand much chance - neither as strays nor in finding a new home.

It was very hard not to take one of the dogs home, but both Susanne and I have a dog at home and not really enough time nor space for another one. But I'm still thinking whether I should take Higgins… I'm sure she'd get on great with my own boy and she is such a lovely little girl!

Something that really positively surprised me was that all dogs are very friendly towards us humans. Not a single one was aggressive or overly anxious near us. Visite Irland Border Collii's in Not ...Considering Susanne and I were strangers to them, it shows that at least at some point in their life they were socialized well. All are friendly and even quite obedient. I have no idea how my friend does it all - she works full-time as well! Her partner helps with the dogs, but still she gets up at 5.00am every morning, gets the dogs ready, drives to work - and when she comes back at 7.30pm, again its only dogs and loads of washing. She is never able to go to bed before midnight. I would never be able to do that! After only 5 days there with sleeping no more than at the most 5 hours a night I am exhausted! I've already been home now for 3 days, but I can still feel the lack of sleep.

Now I try to find some sort of help for my friend in Ireland. Maybe a dog food manufacturer would like to sponsor her dogs. Or a reader is interested in re-homing one of those lovely Border Collies? They are really worth it - if I hadn't had a dog already, I would have come back with at least two of them!

If somebody would like to see the dogs, photos as well as some information (but only in German so far, an English Website is in process at the moment) they can be seen on: http://buerger.metropolis.de/bordercollies/page2.html

For further questions with regard to the dogs, please contact:
Beatrix Urban, Republic of Ireland, e-mail: uisneach@utvinternet.com

© Copyright by Jutta Steffens-Carter, England e-mail: jutta@ukonline.co.uk and hund.ch