Our kids have been asking for a dog (not a pony!) off and on for about four years but it’s never really fit with our lifestyle; that is until we decided to change our lifestyle.
I’ve found a dog
Sophie: “I’ve found a dog that needs re-homing. Can we have him?”
Me: “Eeerrrr what?…… let me have a look.”
That’s how the conversation went as she was supposed to be revising for her exams in Yorkshire. Yup, we all know what she was secretly doing lol.
What is he?
He’s an Alaskan Malamute and a big hairy one at that! Hachi is adorable with the kids, a big soft puppy (with huge paws) that loves attention but he doesn’t come without a few problems.
I always said that we should re-home a dog. Give a dog (or two) a second chance; let them live out their final years in happiness with us where we’ll shower them in kisses and hugs. I didn’t want the full responsibility of fifteen years of a pup (after all our own kids will be left way before then).
We considered buying a puppy (from a responsible breeder) because rescue shelters have such strict criteria that we would never meet (not having a house etc) but then we discovered pre-loved. Or should I say, Sophie discovered pre-loved. It’s a bit like Gumtree meets eBay and there are a ton of dogs listed on there.
Why would an owner list on pre-loved?
What I’ve discovered is
- Animal shelters are heaving full, most have a long wait-list and an extensive ‘checking process’.
- Animal shelters will not even consider a dog if it’s aggressive or even ill.
The reality is that if you want to re-home your dog, unless you find a shelter with space (very hard), you only have illegal, immoral or pre-loved options to choose from.
He has some problems?
A few problems which we were naive not to expect.
- He had no vet records for the last 4 years and thus no vaccinations or treatment record.
- He wasn’t castrated!
- He weighs 51kg/8stone which is just 4lbs less than me!
- He’s definitely not been exercised enough and due to this has poor muscle mass and arthritic, rear hips.
- We’re not sure he’s ever been socialised because the first time we took him into town he tried to aggressively attack every dog in sight.
- He’d only ever been walked on a harness (which meant he was used to pulling) and couldn’t follow some basic commands.
What have we done to fix this?
Over the last four weeks we’ve all worked so hard and it’s been incredibly time consuming. It will remain this way because he’s a high maintenance dog.
- He’s been registered with vets, vaccinated and castrated!
- We have supplements for his hips but mostly we’re just waking him A LOT. At the moment he’s walked three long walks per week of 10miles/13km+ and two shorter walks of 2m/5km in the morning and evening.
- He is socialised with other dogs up to three times a day.
- We’ve changed his harness to a head collar and a retractable lead which means he pulls much less.
- We did have him in a muzzle but it really didn’t work and he hurt his nose. We’ve ditched the muzzle.
- We’re working with a dog behavioural specialist to help us understand why he randomly attacks some dogs. This is expensive (£75/$100 per day) but in the long run will make our lives easier.
- We’ve changed his diet and will evaluate and tweek it where necessary.
- We take him swimming twice a week.
- He does best off the lead but due to his unpredictable behaviour around dogs we have to hire dog fields or find very remote places for him to run.
- We practise his commands regularly and expect him to walk to heal every time we go out.
Want a malamute? Here’s what to consider
Are you maybe considering get a big dog? Here’s just a little of what to expect.
- He gets exercised for around four hours a day. (Because I didn’t have enough to do already lol).
- He comes up to my waist and takes up the entire boot/trunk of the car. We have just bought a car and a roof box to travel with, which means the way in which we travel will now change.
- If I don’t pre-empt his behaviour, he can pull me off my feet very quickly.
- His bed was more expensive than the kids’!
- He has two layers of hair and his undercoat will blow twice a year.
- His coat cannot remain wet as he can develop mold. He must be dried and because we take him swimming we invested in a dog blower (which is the noisiest thing ever).
- He needs grooming every day otherwise he can get matted.
- They are bred for arctic conditions and therefore get very hot in warmer climates. We must now add a gazebo and a paddling pool to the list of crap we travel with!
- They are dominant, hierarchical animals and you must be firm with them.
- They can be very aggressive towards other animals; staying away from other animals is NOT a good option.
- Training them can be complicated due to their stubborn personalities. You definitely have to be patient and committed.
- They require a lot of attention. This is not a breed that does well being left alone or excluded from the family.
- The more expensive the food, the less the dog will poo.
- This one shits like a horse.
- They are prone to hip dysplasia, always check to see what point the parents are. Although hip dysplasia is genetic it is affected by environmental factors.
- Malamutes love to talk and are a very vocal animal.
- They are useless as guard dogs and have no loyalty.
- They live for around 12 years.
- They are incredibly high maintenance and I’ve had to change my life considerably to adapt to his needs.
- He makes us laugh everyday with his silliness and I’ve slept like a baby since we’ve got him.
Everybody loves him and everywhere we go people want to talk to us and touch him.
Walking round the town of Mevagissey this week, a little boy of about 2 years pointed to him and shouted “PONY!”. Everyone laughed as we tried to explain he was just a big dog but this little boy kept pointing and shouting “PONY!”.
He has brought us a lot of happiness and we cannot envisage our lives without him – even when he does jump in muddy fields and needs washing in the ocean.
He even has his own IG
If you’d like to follow our magnificent beast’s journey, head over to his personal Instagram.
Add our pony to your Pinterest feed if you’re thinking of re-homing a dog too.