Not a happy feeling
When you take on a new pet, there are so many great emotions, and it’s such a buzz to bring home a new family member.
Then something happens: the dog is very barky; the cat keeps puking on the bed. And that’s when a new feeling rears its ugly head.
I’ve never had so much as a pang of remorse until a few weeks ago when Jazz the heading dog came into our lives. My trainer Christine had warned me of the risk of taking on another dog, no matter how smart and beautiful (she’s both). “Two’s company, three’s a crowd, the same for dogs as it is for people.” Thanks to her careful advice, everything went beautifully, until Day 7 when I made a mistake. The dogs are fed in their separate crates, but I was preparing it in the laundry, right in front of them, when I spilt a few pellets on the floor. Jazz put her head down for a sniff and Evie – placid, sweet-natured Evie – took exception. There was snarling, wrestling. It was terrifying, the noise amplified by being in a confined space. It was over in seconds, no damage (curiously they never touched each other) and since then, everyone has got along fine.
But the feeling of remorse was sudden and hard – I felt like I’d made a huge mistake taking her on. It’s so common for adopters to have a similar experience, the US ASPCA studied how to mitigate its effect and found a simple way to help adopting families: a signed contract offering to take the dog or cat back if things don’t work out, no judgement, and a full or partial refund.
Their research found that when people feel remorse, knowing that a back-up offer is there helps them to move past it. Occasionally, an animal is returned, but the ASPCA found adopters were more likely to stick it out because having a back-up plan offered them reassurance. Better yet, people who were apprehensive about taking on a rescue pet felt reassured enough to adopt, markedly improving their rehoming rate.
New Lives Animal Rescue is an incredible charitable group in the Waikato who took Jazz in after the Tokoroa Pound found her wandering as a puppy and no-one came forward to claim her. A wonderful foster family then gave her a loving home while she waited for me, and now we have an amazing three dog family.
No remorse. No regrets. Hopefully next month I’ll have a photo of Jazz, Evie, Biscuit and I. If they can all sit still for long enough. www.newlivesrescue.co.nz
WORKING ON SELF-SUFFICIENCY
I have been thinking about our block, in regards to Murray Grimwood’s travels around NZ.
We live in Ngatimoti, approximately 20km from Port Motueka, in the top of the south. We have nothing out of the ordinary to boast about, but have been doing this whole lifestyle block thing for nearly three years now.
We lived in Auckland for 35 years after emigrating from the Netherlands as young people, then bought a totally neglected property, 0.7ha in the South Island, with the idea of making it productive. NZ Lifestyle Block magazine has been invaluable for us as we have tried to come to terms with the climate here (including -12°C frosts), developing the property, keeping stock, renovating the house, growing and planting, processing the harvest etc. Being mostly unpractical people, one of us did a certificate in organic growing ( Telford) and Permaculture Design course as preparation.
We now have five sheep for wool and homekill, and had our first flystrike panic. We happened to have friends over from Auckland and they felt like they had been part of a Country Calendar episode.
We have been blessed by kind and helpful neighbours, and by locals who don’t look down on us as townies and who are ready to help out
Ours would be a story of ordinary people getting to grips with the lifestyle, which has not always felt like a good move. However, we feel as if we are now getting to the end of the setting up stage and look forward to maintaining it and reaping the harvest.