Upepo (née Monsoon) Diaries – Part III

The story of an adopter

At first Upepo was nervous of cars, bikes, loud noises and people, but by taking her out of the compound for short intervals on a harness once she had settled in, and again by giving her lots of cheese treats while out walking, she’s now the one pulling me along. Even matatus no longer scare her.

It’s not all been an easy ride however. With her new-found confidence other behaviours we don’t like have emerged. She jumps up, and thinks the sofas are hers to climb onto (not good with wet, mud caked paws) but we are trying to teach her she only gets attention from us if she’s sitting or has four feet on the ground. This is definitely work in progress.

Her mouthing too sometimes hurts. She has lots of energy and nips when she wants to play.  We have realised the worst thing to do is to scream and wave the nipped body part around – because she thinks that’s a continuation of the game. So, I’ve told the children to try (as hard as it is) not to yell and to stand still, to turn away and to wrap their arms around themselves. When she’s calm – they pet her. She doesn’t get any attention for behaviours we don’t like.

Upepo was sterilised. We don’t need to add to the problem of unwanted pets in Nairobi by having puppies (Fonzie is already sterilised but I’ve heard other dogs can easily find a way in to the compound if one is on heat inside).

I’m also worried about the number of stolen dogs in Nairobi – usually used for breeding – so I’ve had her dog tag engraved with the words ‘I’ve been sterilised’ along with my phone number, just in case an unsavoury type thinks she’d be a good addition for their puppy mill.

She has been a lot of hard work, but with continual training she will be a wonderful pet. We adore her and the whole experience has been extremely fulfilling. I know we have given a loving home to a dog that would otherwise have had an awful life on the streets and we can’t imagine being here – or anywhere else in the world for that matter – without her.

My one bit of advice to anyone thinking of getting a dog is to make sure that you get good advice about training from someone who uses positive reinforcement. It works wonders and your dog will love you all the more for it. A fearful dog is not a happy dog. Oh and make sure you train the whole family – it won’t be just the dog who benefits from it.

Upepo (née Monsoon) Diaries – Part II

The story of an adopter

I’ve learned that children and dogs are not the most natural of bed fellows. Children like to pull tails or ears or give out unwanted cuddles which may make a dog feel uncomfortable. Children can’t always see or understand a dog’s warning signals showing they feel threatened – which can then result in a nip or a bite. People often forget that it’s equally as important to train children how to behave around dogs as it is to train the dog’s themselves.

Her mother was a street dog, and extremely nervous – and Upepo was equally as wary, especially of strangers. She barked at the staff constantly which became annoying.

By asking them to drop bits of chicken or cheese on the floor around the kitchen where they worked (for her to gobble them up) she slowly began to associate them with delicious treats. They are now all very tolerant of each other.

She still barks at strangers, but I don’t mind that. She’s a great guard dog – giving out lots of warnings to people she doesn’t know. But to stop it becoming annoying or developing into aggressive behaviour, instead of telling her off, I call her to me and give her some tasty chicken treats to distract and encourage her to settle under my desk and give her a tummy rub. She wants to protect me and my family because I’m the source of all things good!

And that’s the other thing…she loves my children because she’s learned they’re messy eaters and if she hangs around at dinner time, food falls from the table to the floor. My children are another source of good tasty treats – and she’s a great hoover!

Upepo (née Monsoon) Diaries – Part I

The story of an adopter

Our decision to adopt a dog was not a difficult one for my family. We had recently arrived in Nairobi and our other very sociable rescue dog (rescued from Spain) was bored and lonely in our compound. We had promised the children that with a larger garden we could accommodate a new puppy.

I was desperate to find one that suited our requirements (under 6 months and female) as quickly as possible. I know that puppies can be destructive, so hoped to find one before our shipment arrived with our furniture. By then I knew (with training) I could have a puppy house trained – so no peeing on our rugs and hopefully she would be less inclined to chew everything!

Having contacted the TNR Trust to find a suitable dog – Monsoon was suggested as a match.

The strict verification process, as well as insisting on a vaccination and sterilisation programme, including a home visit, reassured me that the TNR Trust would help me adopt a dog with the dog’s best interests at heart. I’ve always believed that it’s important to be a responsible and able dog owner – or not one at all.

When Monsoon (now renamed Upepo – which means ‘wind’ in Swahili) arrived at home she was terrified and sat shivering in a cupboard in the kitchen refusing to come out. I left her to sleep until she felt comfortable in her environment and when the children arrived home, I gave them bits of chicken to give her – giving them the opportunity to interact with her by giving her treats, rather than overwhelming her with cuddles.

Happy Savanna

Havana (now called “Savanna”) was found at around 5-6 weeks old. She was shy but friendly. Thanks to her foster family, she blossomed into a playful pup.

Savanna is now in her new forever home, getting along fantastically with her human brother and sister. There are many benefits from having a pet in a child’s life. From fostering natural nurturing abilities to developing responsibilities, pets have a life long impact on a child’s development.

How can you help your kids get used to dogs?

Greeting - Kids and dogs

Involve them in training the family dog

You can always involve your children in the training of your dog. With the right instructor, this is a perfectly safe exercise and also helps to strengthen the bond between the child and the dog.

 

Why should you consider adopting an older dog? – Dora’s Journey

It appears many people prefer adopting a puppy over an older dog on the belief that they will bond better with the puppy. Sure an older dog that has been in rescue will probably have a bit of baggage (who doesn’t!), but in most cases, their past will not inhibit their ability to develop an emotional bond with a human.

Dora’s Journey

TNR Trust took Dora in when she was still a puppy. Due to circumstance, she did not fit in well with her adoption family and ended up back at the TNR Trust kennels. She remained with us for about a year and her foster parents were actually quite okay with that.

Dora 20170621
Dora upon arrival at TNR Trust

Dora took upon herself the role as a “service dog” at the kennels: she was very special in her endearing behaviour towards any newcomers who are often nervous or depressed on arrival. She would greet everyone in the morning when they went out in the yard – large and small, cats and dogs. 

She loved playing with all the dogs, but was just as happy playing by herself with a toy. In the house she was calm. She was a very gentle dog but an excellent guard dog too. 

There are numerous reasons why you should consider adopting an older dog

You might think: “more than 1 year already, isn’t she a bit old?” Let’s get one thing straight first: old dogs CAN learn new tricks! After showing behaviour such as jumping when excited, Dora re-learned some basic obedience behaviour from our volunteers. Together with the volunteers, she made good strides towards calming herself down.

Aside from this, there are more reasons why older dogs are often a better fit for a family:

  • They won’t chew your shoes and furniture like puppies
  • They are more independent
  • They are house-trained much faster (if they are not already house-trained)

For starters, be as predictable as possible. Older dogs that have come with “baggage” (neglected, abused, abandoned, …) might have had their trust in humans broken and it is up to you to rebuild this trust. Dora learned this through TNR Trust and its volunteers, all of whom believed in her 100%

And how is Dora doing now?

Dora was adopted by a fantastic couple with tons of rescue dog experience. Upon arrival, Dora trotted around the garden with such confidence and picked up a ball too. She quickly became friends with the other 2 dogs of the household. 

Dora walks really well with me and now knows all the dog’s en route. She throws the ball around the garden for herself. She has been in the car twice and was fine.  Eating well and puts herself to bed before me!!! I can’t thank TNR Trust enough!

– Dora’s new adoption family

Another wonderful “FAILED FOSTERS”

Chebet came to us through KSPCA. She was known to the KSPCA Staff as “Kadogo” (little one). She was in a large kennel with lots of other dogs and was pushed to the back by the other bigger dogs. But she called to us with a very cute “Rrrrruuuuw” (howl/bark) she produced.

Chebet was extremely excited sitting in a car. She spent most of it looking out of the windows
Chebet was extremely excited sitting in a car. She spent most of it looking out of the windows

She quickly bonded with our volunteers and loved the attention. She was very active and loved exploring, including sniffing all the dogs and cats bums (much to the cats’ displeasure). She immediately jumped into our car and spent most of the drive to her new foster home looking out of the windows and trying to connect with Farah, who was in a crate next to her.

20180208 Chebet 10 adj

Chebet settled in well into her foster family. Volunteering as a TNR foster family is a great alternative for many expat families who love dogs (or cats) but whose circumstances are not entirely stable enough to adopt one.

For example:

  • Families who don’t if they will have enough living space at their next post
  • Families who cannot afford transporting their pets abroad
  • Families who are only here for a short period of time

But sometimes, the most wonderful thing happens, and that is when we have “Failed Fosters”. A dog (or cat) would go to their foster family and win over the hearts of the members of the family. This was the case for Chebet. At the foster family, she learned how not to be so bossy as they had a big Ridgeback who would put her in her place.

But they got along splendidly, and eventually we got a message from the foster parents saying that Chebet (now renamed DOBBIE) was to become a permanent member of their household. And as we all know: more often than we think, the dog choses its owner, not the other way around 🙂

20180312-Chebet foster

TNR Trust is always looking for foster families so we can help rehome more dogs (and cats) that cannot be released again at the place where they came from. If you chose to become a foster family, the TNR Trust community of volunteers will give you as much support as possible.

If you would like to know more about volunteering as a foster family, please click HERE.

Why you should consider adopting an older dog

It appears many people prefer adopting a puppy over an older dog on the belief that they will bond better with the puppy. Sure an older dog that has been in rescue will probably have a bit of baggage (who doesn’t), but in most cases, their past will not inhibit their ability to develop an emotional bond with a human.

Berry is another KSPCA – TNR TRUST collaboration: she came from an abusive home where she was completely neglected and ended up at KSPCA. TNR Trust has now taken her in to give her the attention she needs.

Lady (on the left) and Berry (on the right) have already received some basic obedience training
Lady (on the left) and Berry (on the right) have already received some basic obedience training

Even though Berry had been abused, she is still of a very sweet nature. She can get very excited seeing a visitor in her kennel and is currently learning that she does not need to jump to get the visitor’s attention. And she sure loves all the attention she gets: getting scratched behind the ear, searching for cuddles and treats and is eager to please.

Berry had beautiful jet-black fur (hence the name (Black)Berry) and is about 3 years old. Berry is spayed already, which saves you lots of trouble and money. As she is lively and energetic, she needs space to run around and someone who will take her on her much-loved walks. She is friendly with other dogs and can go to any home with children of 8 years and above

20180510 Berry 1

You might think: “3 years already, isn’t she a bit old?” Let’s get one thing straight first: old dogs CAN learn new tricks! After being neglected, Berry is learning some basic obedience behaviour from our volunteers. She still gets a bit too excited when she gets a visitor, but together with the volunteers, she is making good strides towards calming herself down.

Aside from that, there are numerous reasons why you should consider adopting an older dog:

  • They won’t chew your shoes and furniture like puppies
  • They are more independent
  • They are house-trained much faster (if they are not already house-trained)

For starters, be as predictable as possible. Older dogs that have come with “baggage” (neglected, abused, abandoned, …) might have had their trust in humans broken and it is up to you to rebuild this trust. Berry is currently learning this as well through TNR Trust and its volunteers.

20180510 Berry 6