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To think this dog's life is not right?

(58 Posts)
Nicola19 Sat 31-Aug-13 11:13:08

Opposite house to us have two older teenagers. They got a labrador pup about two or three years ago. He is sedate and sweet, he always used to be an indoor dog but would follow them out to the yard if they were busy out there. He was never left out. Got walked quite often but not regularly, he would go out on the paper round and up the woods sporadically on a flexi lead.

Last few weeks i noticed him barking and whimpering a lot and i saw that he was in the side yard, a fence away from where they come out of their doors. Walks seem to have reduced. He has now stopped barking and just stands still whimpering a bit. They go out to feed him but definitely no so much fuss is made of him and he is kind of held captive.

I plucked up courage to speak to the guy and we got onto topic of the dog. He said he was fine, banished outside because he has caused an allergic rash on two family members. He showed me and it looked like dermatitis, no evidence of any treatment/ cream. He said he had been to the doctors who said he had to choose between the dog or the rash!??

Dog has a new shed that he goes in as his new home. When i am out i can hear him softly whimpering for attention. Makes me so sad he is so miserable on my doorstep, keep being reminded of it. If they are fed up of him i would love to offer to have him but my DH would say no way! I wonder what others feel about this please? Is it a case of dog is probably adaptable and is ok?

LeoandBoosmum Thu 19-Sep-13 01:56:49

Hi Nicola,
Hope you're okay. Your plan sounds good.
It occurred to me last night that Guy Fawkes' Night is not that far off so, hopefully, you can find an opportunity to speak to the owners before then... If this year is the first time the dog has been kept outside during this time then he is likely going to be scared stiff! Poor guy... If the owners will let you have him it'd be better if you could have him in your care before then...

It's good that you have other neighbours around you who are also concerned for him... If push comes to shove and you decide to take action - if the dog's owners are resistant to the idea of giving the dog up - then maybe you could approach the neighbour who seems as bothered as you and report together... Maybe there would be less chance of recrimination if the owners found out more than one neighbour reported them... For now, though, I would try - as others have suggested - to keep things amicable. What makes you feel certain that the lady of the house will object at the first approach? Does she seem closer to the dog? Does she walk him?

What are the 'Five Freedoms'? I'll have to go and look that up... I'm guessing it's something like 'freedom to eat, drink, shelter etc etc' Can owners be reported if they are not meeting these 5 freedoms? If it comes to it, at least if one or more of these freedoms is being denied you have something to report.

I am hoping that the family will give the dog up to you if you say something along the lines of what we originally discussed. I think that's the best way forward. Their allergies are one thing - and you have to say you respect that they feel they can't have the dog in the house for that reason - but the dog, not used to being outside until recently, is going to have a very lonely, miserable, cold winter if he has to spend it outside the whole time. Surely they will see reason?! I hope - if they won't give him up -that at the very least he has a sturdy kennel and plenty of blankets.
MikeOxard makes a great point, I think. I agree - having considered his message - that the family could become defensive if you start mentioning Lab rehoming charities/ RSPCA etc... I think they may interpret that as insulting, like you saying they are abusing the dog and are not looking after it (which, of course, between us, is the truth!!....)

Yep, as MikeOxard says, it is better that you just offer to have him yourself... I agree with him that you will fall in love with him (and your DH is likely to aswell...labs are super loving and lovable!) but that if you feel after a time you couldn't keep him for any reason, you could rehome him yourselves and make your excuses to the previous family if they ask.
The important thing, surely, is to get him out of that situation... There are plenty of responsible people out there who would love to have this gorgeous dog and give him a full, active, fun life. Labs make wonderful companions and are so good with really is a shame that he's basically been ostracized. Shame on them!!

It must be pretty galling to have to be nice to the little guy's owners but it is the best way forward and I think your plan sounds good. Just try to keep it friendly, amicable and helpful-sounding without appearing at all judgmental. I think you should sympathize with them over the allergy situation but point out how confusing it must be for the dog *winter's approaching etc etc... Then just ask if they find him too much with their allergies whether they would consider giving him to you... tell them the kids can drop by and visit (point out that that way they have the benefit of access to the dog without too great a risk of allergic reaction).
You can but try but I am really hoping and praying that they will see sense and let you have him. I keep thinking of the poor little bugger sitting there alone because his sh!t of a family have decided he's now a burden sad
I have a similar situation next door to my mum. The dog there is a little Jack Russell. He is gorgeous but he is left alone way too the back garden from morning until early evening til the woman comes home with her two little boys...during the school holidays he was left alone until 10 at night sometimes (she does appear to bring him in at night) ! I was at mum's today to check on her dog and took a peak over next door's fence and saw the little Jack Russell. He had no water and there was no food bowl (his only shelter is a tree at the back of the garden where I've seen him curled up when it's raining...really upsetting!) so I ended up throwing food over to him which he gobbled up like he'd not eaten in a week sad I put a bowl of milk under the fence for him which he drank too...and then took it back. Moments later I saw the house light go on... I take a chance when I do these things because I'm sure I'd get a mouthful if she noticed (you should hear what she screeches at her children!)
My heart bleeds for dogs such as the Jack Russell and the little guy who concerns you... I wish people would think long and hard before they get a pet... Our dogs are just as much a part of the family as the people in it! It should be the same in every household where there is a pet...
Rant over... I just wanted to say I sympathize and empathize with you and hope you can find a way forward in your situation! I am really rooting for you and our canine chum!! Sorry for going on and please do keep me updated.
Leo x

LeoandBoosmum Tue 17-Sep-13 03:45:07

Hi Nicola,
Just wanted to let you know I hope to reply tomorrow (I'll probably reply here and then copy and paste and send via mumsnet mail too).
I'm really hoping everything works out for our canine chum! TTYS! GNGB!

MyBaby1day Sun 15-Sep-13 03:40:26

Poor doggy sad. These neighbours sound very irresponsible to me and getting it was a 5-minute wonder, now the novelty has worn off. You can't do that!, it's not a doll, it's a life!. In a way I hope your DH comes round and you can take him. It's good that you're on good terms with the neighbour as A), he's your neighbour, you don't want to be at logger heads! and B) he may let you take the dog!! smile. Hope all ends well but it's so selfish of them to have done this!.

Alisvolatpropiis Sat 14-Sep-13 11:59:56

Thanks for the update op

I hope you manage to talk sense in to the "owners".

MikeOxard Sat 14-Sep-13 09:58:59

I have a rehomed Labrador so this is really tugging my heart strings. I think the family will be MUCH more open to you taking him than to giving him up to a rehoming charity. I would ask to rehome him (and not mention giving him up/rspca etc, as this often leads to defensiveness). Once you have him, see how your dh is, if you both love him once he's there (which I'm sure you will!) then you can keep him and give him a lovely home. If dh doesn't come round, ask Labrador rescue to find him a new home, and just mention to the family that sadly you couldn't keep him in the end but found a lovely family for him. xx

Nicola19 Thu 12-Sep-13 21:17:57

Hiya leo, just a quick update. Weather is rainy and cool. I am planning to wait until october for my approach. I really don't want to leave him that long but i think the cold conditions might help them decide if they want to rehome him. I don't think wife will say yes at my first show of interest but if i pace it they may come round. I looked up thre Five Freedoms and was actually heartened by the freedom to behave normally, it explores social interaction. I thought i was going to find very little to support my view. My three neighbours are also sad about it. One to the same extent as me. She has said that they had also toyed with the idea if having him! I think being sympathetic and neighbourly is the right approach, and not too intense. I am psyching myself up for four weeks from now and will feed back developments! Thankyou to all for interest and advice.

LeoandBoosmum Thu 12-Sep-13 13:47:34

Hi Nicola, sorry I haven't written sooner...
Just wondered if anything had happened since we last chatted?
You're right...labs are not a breed that are usually kept for guarding. I think he's just got fed up of having a dog in the home - theodorakisses's post is probably closest to the truth. I'm not sure that would mean he'd happily relinquish the dog though. You can but try... Maybe broaching the subject with the woman of the house if you see her on the road?

Did you look up the RSPCA info about what constitutes neglect? Maybe the radical change in the dog's circumstances would be enough for the RSPCA to intervene some way. I mean, if the dog had been kept in those conditions ie outside and alone for most of the time, since puppyhood (not saying that would be right either) the RSPCA might take the view that the dog - as long as there was adequate water/ food/ shelter - would be used to that lifestyle and not intervene. The issue is that the dog has not always been treated in that way and so his mental/ physical health could be seriously compromised... Might be worth a quick (at this stage, anonymous?) to the RSPCA or even a charity like The Dogs' Trust (much nice than the RSPCA in my opinion but I'm not sure to what extent they could advise...) I think you should point out that while - for now - the dog looks okay physically, you can't see enough to know whether the dog has adequate food, water, shelter, space etc...

Do you think other people in the community have noticed this dog's plight/ change in circumstances or expressed any concern?

I am a bit concerned that if the RSPCA, for example, visited they might trace it to you (although that can't really be a reason to not act if you have real concern)... It might just be better from your perspective if you're not the only neighbour who has sensed there is something not quite right...

I'm glad your husband may now be open to the idea of having the pooch. That's great news. I'm sure he'd have a much happier life with you. At least you sort of know that he has a home with you - even if it turns out to be temporary until the lab charity can find him somewhere - if the owner is amenable. If you can convince the owner (and, like I said, I would do it in a sympathetic know, 'it must be very difficult for you, you must love your dog and he must wonder why he's now an outside dog but I can understand your predicament...allergies can be nasty things...etc. Do you think you might be fairer to yourselves and the dog if you gave him up? I'd be happy to take him if you'd like the kids to still be able to see him, or if you think they or the kids wouldn't cope well with that you have a friend who rehomes labs).

I think the best thing is to be sympathetic, come across as understanding and caring, tell them you appreciate they love the dog but may be trying to keep him against their better judgement (ie their allergies but the dog must be wondering why his life has changed so much and overnight basically). You thought you'd just suggest some options to them in case they are thinking it's not viable to keep the dog themselves...

I will send you a quick private message now to try to make sure you see this. I haven't had a PM from you so don't know if you haven't worked it out yet or have just been busy smile

Anyhow, I hope our poochy chum is not suffering too much.
Send me a quick update when you can... I'll check back on this thread now and again too!

theodorakisses Sat 07-Sep-13 05:53:52

Yes, it's amazing how many assholes become allergic to their dogs once they are not cute puppies. Most of my fosters come from sudden allergic reactions to adult or teenage dogs. Funny how they don't have a reaction when they are in the photo opportunity cutie puppy phase. Twat.

Nicola19 Fri 06-Sep-13 23:45:24

Thanks will keep you updated and will PM you. Yeah odd to do it just now, not from a pup and what a breed to choose! I am going to bed to google 'RSPCA - what constitues neglect'! It is a very ordinary town victorian house, nothing makes it look like a target. He is a loon.

My husband is coming round to the idea... He usually does! But also will consider how great a home labrador rescue people think they can get.

LeoandBoosmum Fri 06-Sep-13 23:25:04

Hi Nicola, I hope he's not being kept as a guard dog... If that was the case, why wouldn't the dog have been out there all the time, from an earlier age? Maybe they had a burglary or a scare?
I have to pop out now to drop some one off but I'll try to get back more tomorrow. You can PM me by going to 'My Mumsnet' at the top right of the page. Go to 'My Inbox' and you should be able to find a bubble thing with a + and New Message in it, that allows you to compose a message directly to another mumsnetter. Just type in my name...add your message and send.
TTYS... I hope the future is bright for our canine friend. You can only do your best.

Nicola19 Fri 06-Sep-13 23:13:37

Hi leo, had a quick look to see how i could PM you, please tell me if you can! Thanks.

I would love to gain his attention through the slats in the fence but when you approach he does bark. I retreat then because the guy has CCTV up. I dont want to attract attention.

I just was sat on the front doorstep and i heard him bark six or so times. The front door opened and the guy said 'steady' and must have had a look about. Now i have a sinking feeling that the dog has been moved out there to guard. The guy is really paranoid about his house, we've always thought that. It never occurred to me before but i hope this is not the case because he will not want to rehome. However when i asked i'm sure he would have told me straight why the dog was outside, he does not seem to have any insight into his paranoid personality!

Thanks for your kind words. I feel unsettled and angry and have absolutely got to gain success with this

LeoandBoosmum Fri 06-Sep-13 22:37:10

Hi Nicola,

I'm happy the advice was helpful... Maybe some others here will chip in with good ideas. I think you are a star for looking out for this dog. So many animals suffer because people turn a blind eye.
It looks like this family just thinks that as long as they are providing food, water, shelter and the odd walk they are doing enough... sad I think some owners can underestimate the impact little contact (basically neglect) has on a dog, especially when its life was radically different from before sad
It's great that he has you on his side! smile
I think the blinking is a bad sounds like he is way too confined. It must be a pretty small yard which, in itself, is not great since he can't run about! Glad he's not chained though!
I hope and pray that the right opportunity will present itself for you to broach things with his owner (I think I got the pooch's name btw smile ) It could actually come as a relief to them. It looks like they've lost interest in him - he's basically been excluded from his his eyes anyway - and the idea of cold, wet, wintry walks will probably be a pretty unappealing prospect! The joyless welcome is a red flag too... I personally think if you give it a few weeks they may yield!
Do you think your husband will come around to the idea of your family having him if the current owner is amenable and open to the idea?
I think you've developed a real soft spot for him!
I was just wondering if you can pass the time of day with the dog when you go past...? Maybe just a friendly voice, a little bit of praise through the fence? The dog next door to us is often alone and I always pop out and chat to him though the fence, especially if I know the family's not home... I chuck the odd treat or two over as well... I know you have to be careful but I just thought hearing a friendly voice occasionally might give him a bit of hope.
I really hate people who treat dogs like toy they can put in the box when they're fed up with it. I know you have noticed no outward signs of physical neglect like weight loss but I would be vigilant. If you see anything that causes concern you can report it anonymously.
I will be thinking of you and him and hoping for a good result. Will you keep me updated? Feel free to PM me any time to keep me in the loop and just ask if you think I might be able to advise or help further. I am happy to help you help this sweet guy any way I can, any time!

Nicola19 Fri 06-Sep-13 16:12:14

Thanks leo, what you have said is great and I want to completely print this off and keep in my handbag to rehearse, this is exactly what I want to say to them when the time is right.

I can see him through the slats, he is not chained and has a small shed with door propped open as shelter. I haven't actually seen them go in with food and water and I can't see any but I am sure that they are doing this. Blinking because, dunno, I think he has only has close focus on the yard which is a smallish area for hours on end, and when he has the chance for far away vision he blinks and look around kind of surprised. He does look OK physically when I see him on the road.

I better not say his name as if they are fans of this item they may google it and Mumsnet will come up! But it is the same name as a famous two wheeled vehicle! If you understand that!

I can't bear that they come home around six and then he has to wait a further two hours until someone randomly comes and takes him out. The welcome to him is joyless too, no pleasure evident or talking to him. He waits all day for this privelege. When I sit out on the front I can hear sfot whimerping ofetn and the very occasional woof. If they come out the house to do the bins the other side of the house he obviously thinks they are coming for him. Hoping and waiting are his occupations now.

I am encouraged by the wet today and drop in temp. Now i don't want any more sun.

LeoandBoosmum Fri 06-Sep-13 15:50:28

Hi Nicola, Thanks so much for updating us. This little chap has been on my mind an awful lot. I think your friend speaks am awful lot of sense although I'd find it so difficult, like you, to continue to observe only... sad It might be the better plan for trying to secure a happier future for the pooch though. What is his name, BTW, if you feel able to share it here? smile

The onset of colder weather should strengthen your point when you speak to the owner, although they may just say they're aware and have provided extra blankets...then you're sort of forced into accepting I do think the focus needs to be on the isolation. (BTW, I'm not sure how much you can see? Is he tied up? Does he have shelter? Is he kept in a dark place...just with you mentioning the blinking? Do you know for sure he has adequate food and water? Does he look okay when you see him on the road? No red flags apart from living outdoors now and the whimpering?)

Labradors are such softies, really beautiful dogs who are very bouncy and energetic and thrive on interaction with others. It's likely the situation is breaking his spirit. I think I would tell the owner, if at some point you can orchestrate' a chance meeting with them on one of their walks with him, that perhaps the dog thinks he is being punished as he's gone from being basically an indoor dog to living alone outside. I think I would risk being blunt but polite and appearing to be helpful at the same time - ie you have noticed he's been alone daily for a very long time, you understand it's because of allergies etc but that basically his life changed dramatically overnight. I would say that he seems to be in distress as you've heard him whimpering often (I think distress is a good word to use...has impact but doesn't sound like you're criticising them too much) and, while you understand their predicament, you are concerned for the mental well-being of the dog.
I think I would say something like, 'You must love your dog (hard, I know!!) as you are trying to keep him in spite of your allergies (I'd say something here like...antihistamines can't work or I guess that'd have allowed him to remain indoors)...but it might be better for him and you, especially as he's a young dog who previously lived indoors, if they thought about rehoming? I'd point out that, despite loving him, it might come as a relief if they are struggling with an allergy situation. I'd then tell them how you have a friend who could rehome him if a heartbeat if they'd like. Or, if you or your neighbour could take him on that might be even better as the kids would still see him around?
They may say no but you might make them think and their attitude/ behaviour may change a little...especially if they think people are noticing.
Maybe others could chip in and make suggestions? I'm not sure about what I've suggested but it's so hard. What you want to say is: 'Hey, you shits, your poor dog's life has become bloody miserable overnight and you don't seem to care about the poor bugger at all! What are you going to do about it?!' Grrrr! That'd get you nowhere though sad
I really hope you can make progress. Can you keep us updated?

Nicola19 Fri 06-Sep-13 12:53:39

Scuttle, thankyou for you kind offer of help, I may well be contacting you!

Nicola19 Fri 06-Sep-13 12:52:19

Hi everyone, thanks so much for taking time to read and help.

Firstly I spoke to my very dog experienced colleague. She said that she completely understands the plight of the dog but to go in guns blazing and do what I had planned is not going to get success. I wanted to knock on the door and talk to the lady and express my concerns gently and suggest rehoming.

She said the dog needs to be given up for rehoming but the trick is convincing the owners of this. Currently the weather is good (apart from a turn today to autumn!) and so they will not be feeling uncomfortable at all. At the weather gets cold and nasty there will be more clout behind the sentiment, 'I think he is not doing well in this situation'. She said I need to observe and be friendly and interested in the owners and not make any comments yet. I need to drip to them basically. In time it may start to dawn on them that the dog issue is a PITA and they hopefully will become ripe for the asking. Even though I can't bear to leave him like this each day I think she is talking sense. Offering to walk the dog is not the answer she said, it suggests criticism of them and also they will just drop their evening time thirty minutes to the shop and back (most days they do this, at around 8pm) if I walk him. Its the other 22 hours that he spends completely alone that is worrying.

He is such a good dog with good behaviour, whimpers quietly and does not go overboard when they do take him out! He emerges from the yard sort of blinking at the road at the world outside. But I am scared that over time if he is kept like this he is sure to develop behaviour disturbance.

The next thing I did was get in touch with the labrador rescue charity in my city. They have some members near me and I asked if they would observe/ educate when the winter comes on a bit. They said they might do, but seemed reluctant, I know its a big ask. They sympathised but like a lot of poeple are saying it is not actually an illegal situation. They said they would be able to home him swiftly if the owners gave him up.

My next door neighbours and I are both grappling with the wish to home him ourselves, my husband is softening and can see how much it is affecting me and he has been here several times before! It is a massive undertaking but if I 'rescued' him it would be quite hard to let someone else have him! This would take great thought and consideration though, I know.

So my plan is to wait, observe, approach her on one of her walks in the winter, just be upfront and say that I think he is isoalted,etc, have they thought recemntly about homing, can't the dog come inside at times, what about some antihistamines etc. Just be friendly. If there is no no no to all of that through the winter I am going to come on stronger, eg, say that I feel it is a bad situation for him, ring dog warden, RSPCA to go out and do education.

What do people think?

maninawomansworld Fri 06-Sep-13 09:49:12

They are not actually doing anything wrong - many dogs live outside perfectly happily BUT it's really cruel to allow the dog to get used to living inside with the family, forming strong binds with them and then, three years later, booting it out.
I have quite a few dogs which I use as gundogs and they live outside in a very luxurious 'kennel' which is actually a converted stable block with underfloor heating etc. for the winter. They are allowed into the dog friendly parts of the house such as the boot rom, kitchen, hallways etc. in the day when we're home but they sleep outside and stay out when we're not home.
I think in this case the dog should be re homed with someone who will give it the level of care and attention it is used to. If that's not an option then they should move the dog outside, slowly reducing the amount of time they spend with it etc. rather than making the poor thing go 'cold turkey' and booting it out.
Mean people!

pigsDOfly Thu 05-Sep-13 16:22:09

This is so sad.

This poor dog thought it was living in a loving home.

My dog is so loved and happy and (as far as I can tell) doesn't have a care in the world.

The impact this sort of change of circumstance would have on her would devastate her. I'm pretty certain she would become depressed and develop behavioural problems, the way animals kept caged up in zoos do.

No, they are not being actively cruel to the poor thing, but they are being incredibly unkind. How anyone can think this is acceptable is beyond me.

Hope you can move this forward for the poor dog OP.

LeoandBoosmum Thu 05-Sep-13 15:03:39

Any progress, Nicola?

Scuttlebutter Tue 03-Sep-13 08:27:12

Just a couple of quick points about rescue/rehoming centres. A couple of posters upthread have made rescue kennels sound pretty grim, and not a place for voluntary surrender of dogs. While this is true of some Council pounds, many rescue and rehoming kennels are extremely well run. Many rescues don't even use kennels at all, preferring to have all dogs in foster homes. This has many advantages, including being able to assess the dog's behaviour in a home environment. Many other rescues book space at local boarding kennels, the same ones many dog owners use for when they are on holiday, where welfare standards are extremely high.

For rescues with permanent kennels, in many cases the facilities are excellent, and there is a full programme of volunteer support for walks, socialisation, activities, etc. To pick one at random, take a look at Celia Cross Greyhound Rescue and their premises at Sun Valley (I know this one as a friend adopted her dog through them). Fantastic surroundings, well built facilities for the dogs, great volunteer programme, plenty of exercise, cuddles and treats for the dogs. Our local Dogs Trust has superb facilities and again, a great programme of volunteer enrichment activities. A good rescue will welcome visitors, will be clear about their facilities, will encourage volunteers, and will gladly answer questions.

OP, this poor dog is not enjoying a good quality of life, especially as we go into the winter months. If you would like help in finding a good rescue, please PM me. A young Lab like this would be able to find a caring family home incredibly quickly.

TrinityRhino Tue 03-Sep-13 07:54:02

no im not in the middle of the country but I have a car grin

LeoandBoosmum Tue 03-Sep-13 01:45:08

Hi Nicola,
Personally, I think it's worth taking the risk. With winter approaching the dog's life won't get any easier. Maybe broaching the subject of rehoming the dog with the woman of the house would be helpful. I do think 23 hours a day in the yard constitutes neglect which is in itself a type of abuse. I honestly don't see the point of this family keeping the dog but it's getting them to see it sad Can you please keep us updated? My mind has been on the dog a lot since you first posted. sad I'm glad the dog at least has you on his side. As another poster pointed out, maybe the owners would at least be open to letting him accompany you while you jog?

Nicola19 Mon 02-Sep-13 18:53:19

I have just been reading the animal welfare act 2006, it makes 'recommendations' about how long a dog should be left. It has made me feel that the 23 hours a day in the yard is not on. I would like to knockon the door and talk to the lady who is more anenable but under thumb to say that he is really alone too much and must be craving human company. This is sticking my neck out though as i will definitely be identified by the husband as being critical. Its a weigh up between anguish for the dog and falling out potentially.

InTheRedCorner Mon 02-Sep-13 18:42:39

Oh good, let us know how you get on.

mymagaret Mon 02-Sep-13 17:01:11

Thats so horrible . Just because a dog is fed and has shelter doesnt mean they are being cared for. What about the mental wellbeing of the dog who has had love and affection for the last 2-3 years and now had that all taken away from him. They are being selfish in keeping him , when they are just going through the motions of 'caring' for him. So sad for the poor dog. A young labrador will get snapped up from a rehoming shelter, they always go so quickly because they are a lovely dog to have and perfect family pet. I'll have him! ;)

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