SUGAR, DARLING?

BY NANCY WHITTINGTON-COATES

ADOPTING A BULLDOG - HOW WE DID IT PLUS TIPS & ADVICE

British Bulldog Sleeping Tongue Sticking Out

Hi lovelies! So if you follow me on social media or saw my blue dress post a week or so ago you'll know that recently Pete and I welcomed a new member into our little family - Betty the bulldog! A lot of people have asked me where we got her and for some more info on her and so I thought I'd share just that in the hopes that it helps more dogs in need find new loving homes!

British Bulldog Getting Fuss From Owner

FIRST THINGS FIRST

I think that is the first thing I want to emphasise because it is so important but it seems that a lot of people forget it - rescue charities are looking for a great home for a dog, not a dog for a home. By that I mean that just because you want a dog, it doesn't mean that you necessarily have a lifestyle and monetary abilities to have one. That may sound harsh but there is a lot more to having a dog than just having a cute fuzzy friend and having to walk it a few times a day. You need to consider how much you are home to be with them, if you have the spare money for their food/insurance/toys etc, if your house and garden are suitable for a dog to be comfortable in too and if you have the patience and energy to really give them a great life. We've wanted a dog for so long but until moving to our little village we didn't have a home that was big enough or live near to any nice walking spots and so it wouldn't have been fair to get a dog in those circumstances. We now live in a bigger house with a secure yard and we're surrounded by fields and country walks, I work 10 minutes from home so can come back on my lunch breaks and we are financially able to afford any needs she may have. So please, before taking the plunge please think unselfishly and really assess whether your home would be the right one for a dog.

British Bulldog Sitting in Sun

WHERE DID WE GET BETTY AND WHY DID SHE NEED A NEW HOME?

We adopted Betty through the Bulldog Rescue & Rehoming Trust who are a registered charity run mainlyh by volunteers (you can donate to them at this link if you would like to). The adoption process is simple but can take a little time so I urge you to be patient, it took about 4 months from our signing up and starting to apply for dogs to us going to collect Betty from her old home. The way it works is that you fill out an application form and pay a small yearly subscription fee and then once approved you are able to apply for a dog that fits your profile. 
Like I say, you apply for certain dogs that you think you can be a great owner to. You are told on their profile key info such as how they react to people, children, cats, other dogs and how they are in vehicles and being left on their own at home. If the answers you gave in your original questionnaire don't match the profile of the dog your details will not go through to the rehomers. If you're details match you will receive an email confirming that your details have been passed to the person rehoming whether that be the current owner or the fosterer. 

Betty was the third dog we applied for and it took about a month after our application for her to be provisionally offered to us. Once the provisional offer was in and we had confirmed we still wanted to go ahead we were sent more detailed info on Betty, her personality, health background and her current circumstances plus all the terms and conditions of the adoption. We read through everything really carefully to make sure we would definitely be able to offer all she needed and gave final confirmation that we wanted to proceed. Then we got a call and arranged a home check visit from one of the volunteers - all this happened in a matter of days. Needless to say the home check went swimmingly and we were approved and then the arrangements were made for us to collect Betty a week later from her previous owner.

Betty was in need of a new home as her previous owner was no longer at home enough to give her the time and attention she needed. Her owner could easily have just sold Betty and made a good bit of money but she did the right thing and as she wanted to know Betty was going to a really good home she contacted Bulldog Rescue and asked for their help in finding her a new home.

British Bulldog Sitting in Bed

HINTS AND TIPS FOR SETTLING IN YOUR NEW POOCH

We did a lot of research into how best to welcome your new dog into your home and this is what we did. It seemed to be a nice way to do it with minimum stress to the dog and it worked great for us.

I sat in the back of the car with Betty for the two hour drive home from Manchester. We stopped off for a comfort break at a service station so Bets could have a wee, stretch her legs and have some water. During the stop we each sat with her on some grass and gave her some fuss and she even said hello to another dog that stopped next to us. We also stopped in at Pets at Home just before going home to get her fitted for a new collar, a harness and to get her some treats and toys as we weren't sure what her previous owner was going to give us.

When we got home we brought her into the garden on her lead and walked her around, then removed the leash and let her wander around on her own for ten minutes or so. While she was having an explore I went into the house and set up her water bowl, feeding station and her bed in the places we had decided they would go. We then put her lead back on and took her into the house, walking her around every room and letting her have a good sniff and a wander at her own pace, introducing her to where her things would be kept and where her bed was. We left the living room until last as that is where our cat Cleo was and we wanted that introduction to be calm. 

British Bulldog Lying on Sofa

HOW DID SHE SETTLE IN?

Although she was loving and friendly right from the very start, it wasn't all plain sailing with little Betty. Here are some things that happened which we overcame with patience, love and a little training -

- Betty had lived in an all female home all of her life and so became very attached to me but was unsure and untrusting of Pete. This is very common and we knew it would just take time but it broke Pete's heart for a good while until she warmed up to him. In order to speed up this process I let Pete do all the nice things with her such as feeding and I stopped giving her as much fuss (which was HARD) so that she started associating that with him. 
At first she would only go for walks if I was there and would not even go out into the yard without me, but after a few days alone with Pete while I was at work in the day they soon bonded and in only about a week she was walking just with him as well as with me.

- It took a good few days for her to eat her proper food and not just take the odd treat. We finally got her into it by sitting with her at her bowl and hand feeding her the food out of it, luring her closer to it until eventually she just ate it out of the bowl herself - this took around three days. Another tip which a lot of kennels use is to put something strong smelling on top of the food in their bowl such as parmesan which also worked for us, but I used a few shreds of boiled gammon instead of cheese.
It's also good to keep them on the same food they are used to if possible which we have done and if you want to change it do it gradually by mixing the new in with the old over a period of one or two weeks so their digestive system can get used to the change.

- When we left her on her own in the house she wet her bed. This is a typical anxiety thing and tends to go away on its own after a while once the dog is settled and trusting and knows that you'll be home after a while, but there are things you can do to help. I bought Betty a radio so she had some noise to distract her from the noise of any traffic outside which made her jumpy and made her feel less alone - you can also leave a tv on which sometimes works even better. 
Strangely, Betty stopped wetting her bed when we removed the inner cushion from it. We don't know why but she seems to much prefer the outer squishy shell of the bed with the thin base and no cushion. I would have thought this was less cosy but she seems to like it better and the only time she has wee'd in it since was on Saturday when my alarm failed to wake me and she had to wait about an hour longer for her morning walk. She likes her routines so it seems.

- Another classic anxiety thing is humping. Yes, even female dogs and even if they have been fixed. Betty is still doing this when she is excited after walks but nowhere near as often. Unfortunately she only does it to me as it's usually with the person they feel most comfortable with, but Pete hasn't completely escaped it! Like I say we're hoping this will disappear with time and after she has been spayed in two months time.

Sleeping British Bulldog

As you can tell we are completely besotted with her and I can honestly say she had changed my life for the better and made us both much happier. I love our walks and giving her lots of fuss and I even enjoy the extra things you need to do to keep a bulldog healthy like cleaning her ears and eyes and the folds over her nose. Luckily she is very chilled out and will let me do this without any barking or nipping - she is a love!

I would definitely recommend adopting a dog through a rescue charity, a breed specific adoption charity or the Dogs Trust over buying a dog unless you are set on having a puppy. If that is the case I would definitely recommend going through a registered breeder. Please do not buy pets via Gumtree or similar sites - there is no policing of the people selling the dogs and I have heard some horror stories about people buying dogs that had underlying medical problems, had been mistreated and kept in horrible puppy farms or even that had been stolen from loving owners and sold on to make some quick cash.

Sitting British Bulldog

Like I say this is just our experience but I thought it would be useful for others in the same situation and I really hope it helps some pooches get loving new homes.

If you have any questions feel free to drop me an email or get hold on me on Twitter or Instagram, I'm always happy to help if I can!


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