This is Ralph!  He arrived, unannounced at my house, in the arms of my eldest son a couple of weeks ago.  My son had been nagging for another dog for ages but my view was that since he was a fully fledged adult he didn’t need my permission to get a dog, and if I gave my permission I feared that somehow it would convey paternal rights on me in some way.   From experience when a child nags for an animal – ‘please can we have a dog/cat/rat/snake’ etc coupled with ‘ we will look after it, walk it, feed it, brush it’ it actually means ‘can you get a pet for us which we will occasionally cuddle when we are not too busy on Playstation and we may do you a favour and walk once in a while!’

So I just kept saying – it’s up to you – pointing out that both he and his wife and my other son who all live together, all work full-time with quite stressful, time poor jobs.  Evidently that is no bar to getting an animal as the dog can go to work with them!  How things have changed I thought – when I worked full-time I wasn’t even allowed my mobile phone on my desk!



Ralph at work

Well a  couple of months ago he called a family meeting – as he lives with his wife and our youngest son  he naturally felt the need to consult with them.  At this meeting he announced that they were getting a dog – I suspect that he belongs to the Donald Trump school of consulting.  It was a bit of a fait a complete – he had already applied to take on a rescue dog and he even had a photo.

Everything went quiet for a bit – so stupidly I think we all thought that nothing was going to happen – I should have remembered that your children are usually behaving their worst when they are quiet.  Lo and behold he turned up at our house a couple of weeks ago with Ralph in his arms – accompanied with enough equipment to stock Pets at Home store!

Ralph  is actually very sweet.  He hasn’t had the most auspicious start in life having been found hiding in an old mattress on a rubbish dump in Cyprus with his two siblings.  I am not sure if he is Greek or Turkish – he certainly doesn’t seem to understand English!  Ralph had previously been with a foster family so by the time we – I mean my son – got him at 14 weeks he had already been rescued from the rubbish dump, lived in a shelter, shipped to England, put in another shelter, sent to live with a foster family and then re-housed in London.  A lot for a little boy.


Ralph was actually lucky as he was rescued and taken in by a charity,  The Wild at Heart Foundation.  They rescue abandoned dogs and re-home them in the UK.  A cheap option you might have thought – well not really as the dogs have to be transported from their foreign home to the UK, but they arrive fully vaccinated, wormed, parasite checked and spayed/neutered as appropriate.  You can foster or adopt the dogs and in fact Ralph was fostered for a couple of weeks before my son got him. If you love dogs and have your heart strings pulled when you are abroad and see the numerous dogs that wander the streets and beaches of such places such as Cyprus, Mauritius, Spain, Mexico, China etc then the charity may work for you.  They specialise in:

  • Providing funding and support to international rescue and adoption projects,
  • Organising neutering programmes, including research into new sterilization techniques,
  • Creating campaigns that raise awareness of animal suffering, the importance of neutering and adoption over buying pets, and
  • Delivering education initiatives to children, teaching our next generation how important it is to care for animals.

Source – Wild at Heart Foundation website.

Ralph is a bit of a mixer – his papers say he is a pointer but there looks like there is a lot of Jack Russell in him.  Judging by his paws he is not going to be very big which is just as well as my son lives in a two bedroom, fourth floor flat in London.  Ralph was 14 weeks old when he joined the clan and considering what he had been through is incredibly happy, easy-going, and relatively house trained.  He does have a bit of anxiety when separated but that is probably to be expected but he is good around other dogs and remarkably trusting.  Like children who have never had much he doesn’t expect too much.  On a negative note he has not been house trained and seems to prefer weeing in the house rather than in the garden.  He hated his crate when he first arrived but seems ok with it now, and I’m trying to instil in my son the importance of being consistent with Ralph – no sitting on the furniture, no going on beds, being rewarded for good behaviour, not being put into the cage as a punishment, having the same evening routine – a bit like I tried with him although I never had a cage for him – although in hindsight that might have been good move!


My advice in action


I  am determined that Ralph will not become my dog – my son is very good at delegating – he has already had his brother take Ralph into work with him – and he knows that he can palm Ralph of on us as we are that gullible.


In all honesty this place is perfect for a dog and having Ralph for the weekend was lovely but I think I am going to adopt the Grandma approach – lots of treats and cuddles but let out a sigh of relief when I hand him back to his Mum and Dad!

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