Monday, 14 July 2014

Lost Dogs and Happy Endings

I've written before about our family dogs, Lily who has had two litters of puppies (and won't be having any more!) from the first litter we kept Angel and Blossom, and from the most recent litter we kept Dita. There's been a bit of radio silence on my blog and if you follow me on Twitter you might know why, last weekend we got a terrible phone call from the owner of one of the puppies we'd sold that she had gone missing. After twelves days Hattie was reunited with her owner and I sobbed with relief when I heard she was home and safe. 

Hattie (originally introduced as Echo on this blog) had been out for a walk and vanished, that had been Thursday. Her owner, who my mum has become very good friends with since they bonded over the joys of owning Long Haired Miniature Dachshunds, was utterly distraught- she had hoped that Hattie had just caught a scent and gotten lost in the park but would be home within a day or two so although she had contacted local rescue centres and vets she had put off telephoning my mum.

Hattie had gone missing near a river and although we were sick with worry that she might have drowned, that might not have been the worst thing that could have happened to her. Hattie is a long haired miniature dachshund: adorable, bursting with personality, and very on trend at the moment. She is also a very particular colour, shaded cream. This unusual colour makes her stand out even more, especially to thieves.

Puppy farm is the expression used to describe despicable pond scum who aim to breed and sell as many puppies as they can in as short a time as possible and for as little money as possible. The dogs can be kept in cages for their entire life and if they need medical attention they are often abandoned or killed to save any awkward questions being asked. One way to cut down your initial investment when setting up a puppy farm is to steal dogs to breed from. They don't care about the dogs, they don't care about the breed, they often don't even bother to try and learn anything about the problems specific to a particular breed. Dachshunds, for example, are often carriers of gene mutation known as PRA, if a dog is a carrier of this mutated gene it can develop problems with it's eyesight and eventually go blind. If you breed two PRA carriers then the puppies have a much higher chance of being born blind, even if a dog isn't born blind it can rapidly lose it's sight at any age. (All my mums dogs are hereditary PRA clear, that means their parents weren't carriers of the gene and neither are they.)

That's Hattie looking at you.

Bitches come on heat twice a year. Theoretically they can have a litter after each time they come on heat, but having puppies is exhausting- how many women would want to get pregnant straight away after their first child is weaned?  The Kennel Club only allow breeders to register one litter per bitch a year, she must be over a year old when the first litter is registered and no litter can be registered if she is over the age of six. These rules only apply to those who want to register litters, and you can only register pedigree breeds. Puppy farms can simply sell the pups as non-KC registered, and for people looking for a family pet rather than a dog to show or breed from buying non-KC can be an easy way to save some money. There are still things you should bear in mind to make sure you aren't accidentally funding a puppy farm though, the UK Dachshund Club has a very help list HERE of what to bear in mind when considering buying a puppy.

We were terrified that Hattie might be taken to a puppy farm, but we told ourselves that it was more likely someone would see the value in her and not use her in a dog fight. Dog fights are cruel and barbaric, like puppy farms they are also illegal and so are often operated by people who don't pay much attention to the law- that is they wouldn't care about snatching a dog while it was out on a walk or not returning one they find. If you've ever met a dachshund then you'll know they might be noisy little dogs but they aren't aggressive, so they seem an odd choice for dog fights. (Those easily upset just skip this next bit) Small dogs are often used by the societal dregs to 'blood' their real fighters. They take small dogs or puppies, who are not likely to cause much damage if it does try and fight back, and they train the fighting dog to attack and kill them. Typing this has made me feel naseous, the thought of somebody deliberately destroying lives like that is awful but the idea that whole gangs of people find dogs- sometimes half starved and beaten ones- fighting to death a form of entertainment horrifies me. The thought of it happening to one of the puppies I'd stayed up through the night with to make sure they fed every two hours made my blood run cold.

Hattie and her owner live in Worcester, many miles away from where I was in Liverpool when we heard, so I couldn't go out looking for Hattie directly and had to content myself with tweeting and posting on facebook in the hopes that #HelpFindHattie might make a difference. Another resource I didn't know existed until this happened was a free to use online service that allows you to register your missing pet's details and get in contact with people across the country who can help you look. 30 dogs were registered as having gone missing just yesterday. You can register on the site and if you let them know where you live should a dog go missing in your post code area they'll send an email alert, it's a really simple thing to do that could make such a difference to someones life if you help reunite them and their pet.

What brought Hattie home was one of her owner's friends saw a man going into local shops around Worcester and telling them to take down the missing dog posters as she had been found. The friend then followed him home, called Hattie's owner to give her the address and told her what had happened. Hattie's owner first went to the police station to see if she could have some support when calling at the suspicious house, the police refused saying they would only get involved if there was proof somebody had stolen the dog. So Hattie's owner went by herself, although she spoke to the occupiers they denied any knowledge of a missing dog, and so Hattie's owner went home. The very next day however she received a call from one of the fishermen she'd befriended while searching along the river bank. They had found Hattie, alone and shivering near the car park, but very much alive. A bit too much a conincidence for me, but nothing strong enough to take to police and press charges on. The vet, whose known her since she moved to Worcester four months ago, said it was a good thing she's always been such a dominant personailty a quieter pup might have just died from shock or exposure at being away from home for nearly two weeks in who knows what circumstances.

She's lost a fair bit of weight and is very subdued following her twelve days away from home, but she is home, she's safe and touch wood there's no lasting damage that plenty of hugs and kisses won't heal. 

If you have a dog that goes missing, notify everyone you can as soon as possible. Local vets, animal rescues,, newspapers and radio stations, if they've just got lost then the more people looking the better and if they've been stolen then you can make them "too hot to handle" by publicising the fact your dog is lost on websites where people might try to resell them. If you have a praticular breed of dog reach out to the breeders in the area as they often have more contacts to help with the search.


  1. Someone stealing my dog is like my worst nightmare. So glad to know that Hattie is home safe and sound!
    Water Painted Dreams xo

    1. She isn't really even our dog anymore and I don't think my mum slept properly for the entire time she knew she was missing, I'm pretty cerain she's currently looking into hiring an ex-SAS officer for security when our dogs go on walks.
      Joy xx

  2. So glad to hear she is home safe and sound! xxx

  3. I'm so glad to hear that she's safe! I felt sick reading about puppy farms, puppy thieving etc. x

  4. Glad there's a happy ending!
    Knowing that people use dogs for fighting entertainment always sickens me. I just don't know how they can watch it happen!