Busting the myths that surround rescue dogs

Last year, we began a series of ‘myth busters’ over on our Instagram, discussing some of the myths that surround rescue dogs alongside some truly amazing examples of just how wrong, and therefore damaging, these assumptions can be. 

Rescue dogs have a hard enough time without unfounded myths getting in the way of a happier future. Through engagement and education, we can help brighten the prospects of thousands of dogs currently languishing in shelters around the world, waiting to be rehomed but being overlooked for a ‘problem’ that simply doesn’t apply to them. It’s time to bust those myths!

  • MYTH No.1 “Black dogs are less adoptable”

Sadly, dogs with darker fur tend to spend far longer in shelter than their golden or paler-haired friends. This is particularly heartbreaking when you have a litter of puppies to rehome, one of whom is consistently overlooked and left behind.

Why this is we can’t be sure: perhaps it stems from century-old traditions such as the witch’s “familiar” or the Hound of the Baskervilles; a modern view might be that black dogs are harder to photograph. Neither origins are fair and yet, time and time again our gorgeous bundles of black fluff are overlooked.

If you’d like to help bust the myth that black dogs are “unlucky” or “tricky to photograph”, and would like to adopt a dog, please meet the dogs currently looking for homes.

  • MYTH No.2 “Rescue dogs aren’t good with children”

Hundreds of the 1,500 dogs we’ve rehomed have been welcomed into families with children. From newborns to teens, we truly believe a dog can transform a child’s life, teaching them so much about resilience, forgiveness and gratitude. In return, a dog’s loyalty to those who have given them a second chance is unparalleled. So this myth, in particular, breaks our hearts. 

Recent success story, Martha, recently took on the role of big sister when her owners welcomed a baby girl. Not only is Martha impeccably well behaved around her baby sister, and knows exactly what’s needed of her, but she’s been a great source of support for the new parents.

We’re delighted that Martha, amongst many others, are paving the way to bust this particular myth!

  • MYTH No.3 “You can only adopt older dogs”

Anyone who has been following WAHF for the past few months will know just how many puppies we’ve had up for adoption, from the Sugar & Spice pups to the Pepsi pups and even the Lockdown Litter.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be. After all, with an estimated 1 billion puppies born on the streets every year, there’s certainly no shortage of adorable young dogs who need a home.

If you’re serious about introducing a puppy into your home and are ready to bust a myth while doing so, please meet the puppies currently up for adoption.

  • MYTH No.4 “Rescue dogs are damaged goods”

It’s hard to say which myth is the most damaging myth, but this one is certainly the most unfair. Whilst it’s fair to say that some rescue dogs need patience, training and consistency, the same can be said for many pedigree breeds who will demonstrate a similar spectrum of behavioural issues in their lifetime. In fact, many pedigrees come with inherited traits that prove hard to train out or overcome. 

To call these dogs “damaged” is to do them a disservice: these dogs have endured a tragic start to life and come out the other side more resilient, adaptable, loyal and forgiving.

  • MYTH No.5 “You don’t know where rescue dogs come from”

We take great pride in working extremely closely with all our partner shelters and oversea projects, and the WAHF team regularly visit, so we know our dogs come from safe and ethical backgrounds and will be well cared for right up until the day you meet them. 

What sets our shelters apart, and makes overseas rescue very unique, is that our partner shelters work extremely hard getting to know the dogs in their care. They spend weeks, months and for some dogs, sadly, years getting to know them. 

Here at Wild at Heart Foundation, we believe in true transparency, we help each and every dog find their ideal home, no matter their story or how niche their requirements might be.

  • MYTH No.6 “Dogs overseas don’t need our help”

“Why dogs?” is often the first thing people ask us, closely followed by “why dogs overseas?” Our first answer is that we believe in dog; all dogs, every dog, whatever their breed or size or age and wherever in the world they come from.

Beyond that, we point to a sadder reality: there are 600 million stray dogs around the world who are, right now, being slaughtered, eaten, tortured, beaten, gassed and starved by the thousands. In fact, there are 500,000 strays in Puerto Rico alone, an island roughly the size of North Yorkshire. The UK, in comparison, has just a 10th of that number.

When you put the problem into a global perspective, we hope you’ll see why our passion for our international projects burns so brightly.

We’re bringing ‘myth busters’ back soon and will be looking at some of the assumptions that are particularly applicable to life in 2020.

We’d love to hear from adopters and fellow dog lovers about your own experiences: Have you faced certain questions about your dog that you thought were unfair? Has your dog helped debunk some of the misconceptions that your friends and family had? Do you get frustrated with the assumptions people making about your dog or the process of adopting?

Let us know and we’ll add them to our list of rescue myths to be busted – keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram!

How our work in Lebanon began with one very special wunderdog

Decades of miseducation has led to a culture of cruelty, neglect and violence. The levels of abuse in Lebanon is amongst the worst we’ve ever seen: dogs tied up and shot at close range; puppies thrown from balconies; life-threatening wounds inflicted for ‘sport’ or malicious curiosity. 

Following the recent tragedy, and with the country already on the brink of civil war, life for these street dogs is about to get even worse. That’s why we’re shining a light on where our passion for the dogs of Lebanon began, and how we’re helping now.

PAAW House: Ensuring pets are always welcome

The recent lockdown has taught those of us with dogs just how lucky we are; they have been our constant in a world filled with uncertainty. But sadly, not everybody has the opportunity to experience the benefits of pet ownership. 

Launched in 2019, PAAW House is a social hub for like-minded dog lovers. Not only is it a fun, informative community for sharing knowledge, stories and all things dog, but their work advocates for more reasonable legislation regarding dog ownership, particularly for people who rent (and many other worthy causes!)

PAAW are on a mission to end pet discrimination across the UK, making lives easier for dogs and their owners alike; a mission we are excited to get behind.

In 2019, they hosted a launch in support of Wild at Heart Foundation, raising over £500! They continue to extend their generosity by donating a percentage of their annual profits, as well as promoting awareness and fundraising wherever they can.

It’s an honour to have been chosen by an organisation whose beliefs are so aligned with our own – that pets should be welcome everywhere!

Thank you for your support PAAW!

 

Wunderdog: building an international rescue community

Wunderdog Magazine have supported us since their earliest days. It was an honour to feature on their very first print issue, with the one and only Peggy from Romania taking centre stage on the cover. 

Not only was this an incredible ‘rags to riches’ tale, but it sparked the most remarkable chain of events, which led to the rescue of Mitya, a facially-disfigured puppy from Russia, demonstrating Wunderdog’s global reach.

As a voice for rescue dogs the world over, Wunderdog Magazine’s goal is to make rescue the world’s favourite breed by showcasing the work of rescue organisations and their teams who work so hard on behalf of all things dog. The team at Wunderdog champion the wonderful experiences that life with a rescue dog brings, and that’s why we’re honoured to declare them official friends of the Foundation.

It all started with our very special Romanian rescue, Peggy. In December 2018, just as Christmas fever was beginning to set in, we were contacted about a sorry tale: a puppy had been discovered in a field in Romania, abandoned in a box with her ears and tail slashed to ribbons, and – most disturbing of all – her entire nose gouged out.

In spite of everything that had happened to her, Peggy remained a sweet, loving and happy dog, and we knew we had to help her. Thanks to the generous donations of our community, Peggy flew to the UK in January 2019 where she was treated at an expert facility, before finding the perfect family to give her the love she so sorely deserved.

With her amputated ears and tail, and her tailor-made nose, Peggy certainly is a one-of-a-kind dog. So it was a truly amazing moment when we learned that Peggy would be appearing on the first ever print cover of Wunderdog Magazine – talk about rags to riches! And thank goodness she did, because her story inspired the most remarkable chain of events…

Months after the magazine was first published, a copy found its way to Russia where it was read by Ksenia, a woman who’d only weeks before come across a puppy whose nose, tail and ears had been cut off. The dog, who she’d christened Mitya, was condemned to a life of struggle at best or, worse still, the threat of euthanasia, as no vets Ksenia took him to could find a way to permanently restore his nose and therefore allow him to breathe comfortable. Mitya had even had surgery to insert false nostrils attempted; but to no success. 

Ksenia may have been forced to give up hope had it not been for Wunderdog Magazine. It was seeing Peggy’s beautiful and truly distinctive face on the cover that inspired her to reach out to Wild at Heart Foundation and ask for our help – and we were, of course, only too happy to step in and help.

You can read more about Mitya’s rescue, inspired by Peggy’s story, here.

And it’s not only by building an international rescue community that Wunderdog are helping dogs in need, they’re also donating a very generous 20% of their sales to Wild at Heart Foundation.

We couldn’t be more grateful for their ongoing support and all they do for the rescue community – thank you Wunderdog!

Find out more about the magazine and purchase your subscription at wunderdogmagazine.com

Keeping cool: dog-friendly ice lollies guaranteed to please!

This week is set to be another scorcher and while we’re not ones to complain about the glorious weather, our poor pups might feel differently. After all, can you imagine wearing a fur coat in this heat? Like us, dogs need shade, plenty of water and even a nap in front of the fan! Another way to keep them cool is with dog-friendly ice lollies. Some might call them “pup-sicles”…

Not only will your dog absolutely love them, but they’re also fun to make! With endless ingredients to choose from, it’s easy to cater to your dog’s taste buds, keeping them both entertained and cool. 

Here are some of the Wild at Heart Foundation team’s favourite recipes…

 

What you’ll need:

There’s so many dog-friendly ice lolly recipes that you can be as fancy or as simple as you want! 

To make ice lollies, you’ll need something to act as a ‘stick’, could be a chew stick – or even a chicken foot like the one Mishka is eyeing up!

You can use ice trays for smaller treats, or plastic pots like the ones below for larger lollies to keep your dog entertained (and cool!) for longer.

  • For the easily pleased:

Freezing plain kibble in water is the simplest recipe and great for when you haven’t had time to get to shop. 

  • For the raw feeders:

Another quick but healthy option is to include some raw veg in your recipe. A carrot is great for longevity, as once your pup has licked their way through the ice, they still have the carrot to nibble on.

  • For the good girls and boys:

If you really want to spoil your pup, you could include treats. Anything from gravy bones to liver paste will freeze just fine, and make a delicious treat for your companion. 

  • For the sweet tooth:

Fruit is a great alternative to savoury snacks. You can slice it and freeze it, or blend it first! Apples and bananas are both healthy and suitable for dogs, but many fruits aren’t so please check first.

  • For those on a health kick:

Blending veg and freezing it makes a perfectly healthy, nutritious treat for hot summer days. It’s also a great way of using up any leftover vegetables! Green beans, peas and potatoes are all great sources of nutrients, but again please check first which vegetables are not suitable.

  • For those who love to play:

And it’s not only food that makes a perfect pup-sicle! Why not add toys and make it an enrichment toy as well as a cooling treat.

Below, super dog-mum Kasey fills a lunchbox with toys, chew sticks, carrot slices and even stuffs the toys with treats too. As the end result starts to defrost, not only will the dogs have toys to play with but they’ll have treats inside to sniff out too…this should keep even the most playful of pups busy!

 

The possibilities really are endless! Instead of freezing these ingredients with water, you could mix up a gravy or meat broth. You could even experiment with yoghurt, goats milk, peanut butter or tuna juice! 

If you try any of our recipes, be sure to tag us in your end results! 

 

Disclaimer: as delicious as these recipes are, don’t be tempted by your pooches’ puppy-dog eyes to feed them more than they’re allowed! Be careful to consider your dog’s age and lifestyle, and feed such treats in accordance with their diet.

A huge thank you to Mishka, Millie and Maggie for giving these recipes their seal of approval!

WAHF rescue dogs strutted their stuff on the Strutz catwalk

This weekend, we were incredibly proud to watch 6 WAHF rescue dogs take centre stage on the Strutz catwalk, proving that rescue never goes out of style! Funds raised from the event will be generously donated to Wild at Heart Foundation and the PDSA, supporting those dogs who aren’t as lucky as this weekend’s gorgeous models.

Giving back is a huge part of the Love My Human ethos and their canine charity fashion show is just one of the fundraising events they host throughout the year, raising crucial funds for causes close to all our hearts. 

We were so honoured that the Love My Human team chose to support us, alongside the PDSA, with their event; such collaborations really are essential in continuing our global project work, which support our mission to end the suffering of strays around the world.

The icing on the cake really was seeing our WAHF rescue dogs up on stage, strutting their stuff on the catwalk. 

After the show we enjoyed a thoroughly unique auction, which saw outfits and accessories, exclusive (dog friendly!) hotel stays and even a pet photoshoot auctioned off to raise yet more funds for canines everywhere. It was a truly fabulous event, totally focused around our four-legged companions.

A huge, heartfelt thank you to Love My Human for choosing to support our work and for allowing us to highlight the plight of rescue dogs like Maggie the Wunderdog, raising awareness and sharing their stories – and having a lot of fun whilst at it!

Dog theft on the rise: what we can do to prevent it

One of the better news stories to come out of Covid-19 was the emptying of animal shelters across the UK. But sadly, there’s a flip side to this: with high demand for faithful companions to see us through these uncertain times, dog theft is on the rise.

According to DogLost, they’ve experienced a 65% increase in reports of dog-napping compared with 2019, and they’re just one of many ‘lost and found’ services across the UK. While some criminals are targeting dog walkers, others are taking it a step further and breaking into Boarding Kennels – Cosy Kennels in Stretham and Barton Mills in Suffolk have both fallen victim, having 20 dogs stolen between them in July alone.

Here at Wild at Heart Foundation, we can’t imagine anything worse. While, thankfully, such crimes remain few and far between, it can’t hurt to be a little extra vigilant. Here’s how we’ll be taking extra precautions to prevent dog theft:

Leaving your dog unattended

Leaving them alone in a car or tied up outside a shop leaves our dogs vulnerable to opportunistic thieves. Instead, leave them at home or arrange a friend, or family member, to sit with them while you pop into the shop.

Microchipping

It’s law that all dogs must be microchipped by 8 weeks of age but it’s crucial to keep the details updated, whether that’s a new contact number or change of address. Should the worst happen, this will prove invaluable in reuniting you and your dog.

ID tags

It’s also law that your dog must wear a collar and ID tag while out and about in public, but again, be vigilant with what information you include. Your phone number and address are key but leave off your dog’s name: this only makes it easier for thieves to steal your beloved companion and fake ownership of them.

Do your due diligence 

While we’re all about ‘adopt don’t shop’ here at Wild at Heart Foundation, we understand that some people will still turn to breeders to find their next faithful companion. If so, you too can help prevent dog theft by doing your due diligence: insist on meeting the parents and make sure you receive all the necessary paperwork. Both steps are crucial, otherwise you could be buying someone else’s stolen dog.

Photographs

Here at Wild at Heart Foundation, our camera rolls are full of our dogs doing cute things…you might even find a few selfies with our dogs! Having clear, varied photos will help should your dog ever go missing and, similarly, photos of you with your dog will help prove ownership should it ever get to that stage.

Keeping them safe at home

Try not to leave your dog outside unattended even if they are avid sunbathers. Instead, keep them in view at all times and be wary of people sneaking in through side gates or over fences – why not purchase an alarm to alert you to visitors, for added peace of mind.

Keeping them safe on walkies

Be wary of strangers asking questions about your dog and never, ever hand them over even under the ruse of wanting to pet or play with them. Although trickier in the hot weather, do try to vary the times and locations of walkies, preventing you and your companion becoming ‘easy’ targets.

Boarding

Sadly, kennels have become targets for organised criminals looking to make money from selling these dogs on. So don’t be afraid to ask about CCTV and how regularly the animals are checked.

 

If the worst happens and you and your dog become separated, it’s important to act quickly. Here are the people to contact:

  • Police: According to the Missing Pets Bureau, 38% of all animals reported ‘lost’ were actually stolen, so insist the Police record it as theft and not merely a missing animal.
  • Local authorities, such as your local council and dog warden.
  • Walkers: Go to local parks and public places and speak to fellow dog walkers, taking photographs with you.
  • Microchip database: By alerting the database, they will flag should anyone try to re-register your dog’s microchip number.
  • Local vets
  • Local shelters
  • Lost and found websites: Dog Lost, Animal Search UK, National Pet Register, and Pets Reunited are just a few.

 

It’s a sad fact that such crimes are often the symptom of something more positive, like the huge number of dogs who have found forever homes in recent months. And while no dog – whether pedigree or rescue – is immune to theft, it’s important that us dog lovers look out for one another. So if you see anything suspicious, don’t be afraid to report it by calling 101 and sharing the information in your local area.

Rocky’s rescue appeal

indian rescue dog

Here at Wild at Heart Foundation, we’re no strangers to dogs with very specific, often unusual needs. As familiar as we are with the brutal conditions in which millions of strays reside all over the world, we remain unable to turn a blind eye to these special cases. We’re only thankful that this particular case is not one of cruelty inflicted by human hands: but that hasn’t made it any less heartbreaking. 

We’re proud to have begun working with People For Animals Trust as part of our India project work and are in awe of the incredible work they do. When their founder, Ravi Dubey, got in touch to say he’d found a small dog with badly severed front legs, we knew this was a special case that would demand very particular medical attention and funding: we also knew it was a case we couldn’t turn away from.

Donate to Rocky’s Rescue Appeal now

Millie & Mitya: how two Russian rescues found new hope

Here at Wild at Heart Foundation, we’re no strangers to dogs with more unusual needs than most. Familiar as we are with the brutal conditions in which millions of strays the world over live in, it’s sadly ceased to be surprising for us when we hear of dogs who’ve suffered horrendous wounds at the hands of humans. Limbs lost in traps or car accidents. Ears cut off. Eyes shot or stabbed. Bodies peppered with air-rifle pellets. Noses gouged out.

It was this last kind of abhorrent abuse that led us to Peggy. In December 2018, just as Christmas fever was beginning to set in, we were contacted about a sorry tale that we just knew we had to help with. A puppy had been discovered in a field, abandoned in a box with her ears and tail slashed to ribbons, and – most disturbing of all – her entire nose gouged out. That this was the work of human hands was immediately obvious, though the reasons for committing such a horrendous act of mindless cruelty are, as always, near-impossible to fathom. What we did know was that this was a dog who would be overlooked by most, written off as “too damaged” and therefore not worthy of saving.

In spite of everything that had happened to her, Peggy remained a sweet, loving and happy dog.  In January 2019, Peggy flew to the UK where she was treated at an expert facility, and found the perfect family to give her the love she so sorely deserved. With her amputated ears and tail, and her tailor-made nose, Peggy certainly is a one-of-a-kind dog. So it was a truly amazing moment when we learned that Peggy would be appearing on the first ever print cover of Wunderdog Magazine – talk about rags to riches! And thank goodness she did, because her story inspired the most remarkable chain of events…

Months after the magazine was first published, a copy found its way to Russia where it was read by Ksenia. She couldn’t believe what she was seeing! For just weeks before, Ksenia had come across a puppy whose nose, tail and ears had been cut off. Worried he wouldn’t be able to live a normal life, Mitya had visited a number of vets and even had surgery to insert false nostrils attempted; but to no success. So when she saw Peggy’s photo she knew that Wild at Heart Foundation would be able to help!

And Mitya was not alone. After reading Peggy’s success story, Wild at Heart Foundation superhero Kasey (Maggie‘s owner) began to see more stories of dogs who’d suffered similar injuries. She’d come across Millie, an innocent soul who’d suffered horrific injuries to the face. Millie was shot at close range, just like Maggie, and when Kasey saw her adorable face she knew she’d have to help.

 

Of course, we were only too happy to lend our support and embark upon what has now become our first rescue mission of a new decade!

And so we learned the stories of these two remarkable dogs:

Dogs of George x WAHF

Dogs are a huge part of the George family, one which our very own founder Nikki Tibbles is so proud to be a part of. As such, it felt only fitting to set up a charitable committee dedicated to canine welfare. George are proud to be London’s most dog-friendly members club and we’re proud to have collaborated with them on their latest venture.

Their launch party was a huge success, with proceeds of over £3,500 going to Wild at Heart Foundation – that’s enough to sterilise 116 dogs in Puerto Rico, or 300 in Borneo! This is just a small reason why events such as these, and the generosity of such supporters as George, means so much to us! 

And what a launch party it was! We were joined by George’s fabulous committee members (all of whom are long-time dog lovers!) and enjoyed a special auction, with prizes from the likes of Country Dog Hotel, Hunter and George themselves, who kindly donated a dinner for 4.

A huge thank you to everyone who donated prizes: Josh Wood | Leah Wood | Wild at Heart | Bird & Wolf | Pets Pyjamas | Frame | Goat | Hunter | George | Country Dog Hotel | Dr Sebagh

On the night, George even treated us (and our canine companions!) to luxury dog treats, dog-themed cocktails, a dog show, luxury grooming station, doggy ice cream and canine-friendly entertainment, which provided a lot of laughs for everyone! 

Our heartfelt gratitude to everyone who attended the launch event, contributing generously to its success, and most importantly to George for affording us the honour of being your first chosen cause to support. 

We can’t wait to see how the George Charitable Dogs Committee grows and continues to support dog welfare causes throughout the year.

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