The first thing I do in the morning, after I’ve fed Bertie, is to check my emails because my brain works best when I’ve just woken up. It was so lovely to log on this morning and see all my welcome back messages – made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I particularly liked Alan’s comment about my “top notch whinging” – it was just so…….British 😉 So thank you one and all.
Some of you want to know about the Bertie saga. I adopted Bert 4 years ago this month when he was two years old. I don’t think the rescue centre made a brilliant job of looking after him. He’s a Mini Schnauzer who, unless regularly clipped, gets long haired and needs daily grooming. This hadn’t been done, he had dandruff, and was very knotted – in the end I had to have him totally shaved as we couldn’t even get a brush through his coat. He needs regular ear plucking, which again hadn’t been done so he had an ear infection which hadn’t been treated. He also had poop stuck to his bum, which had to be cut off with scissors. I think this was neglect on the part of the rescue centre, and when I started my blog about him I said as much.
I knew hardly anything about his previous owners, except they were elderly. The man had died and the woman had had to go into residential care. Bertie was passed on to their daughter who bred Poodles – Bert didn’t get on with them so was put up for rehoming. I’ve never given any thought to his first owners other than that. No offence, but they aren’t anything to do with me – I’m Bert’s Mum now and all I care about is my life with him.
Sooooo, last month I received a message on my dog blog from someone calling herself “Bert’s Aunt” and saying she was his previous owner and was “very upset that I’d said they’d neglected him. They were dog lovers not dog haters”. Not a word of thanks for the fact I’d rehomed him and he has about as good a life as any dog can get.
I actually apologised for offending her (why did I do that, I’d done nothing wrong?!) and pointed out that I’d said the Rehoming Centre had neglected him, not his owners. She then wrote a gushy comment telling me all about Bert, pointing out much of what I’d been told about him had been wrong, how much her Mum had loved him etc.
It was all too much. In human adoption, there is a reason the birth family don’t have contact with the adopters – it’s all just too raw and brings up some very powerful and primal feelings. And, no, I’m not equating adopting a dog to adopting a child but to me Bert is family (I spend every second of every day with him) and the feelings are the same. I hadn’t asked her to get in touch and her initial comment wasn’t positive, it was negative. Nothing she said afterwards could make up for that, or the fact she hadn’t acknowledged in any way that Bert now had a great home and was loved.
Without going on any further, a few more comments were exchanged which caused “Bert’s Aunt” (how insensitive a title was that?!) to strop off saying she wouldn’t be back.
Now I’ve calmed down I can see both sides. I know it was a shock for her to find our blog online, and in her eyes she was just trying to help and tell me all about Bert’s life before I adopted him. But offering to send me photos of him with her Mum, telling me he’d had no health problems when he lived with them after I’ve spent thousands on his back and stomach problems, and telling me just about everything I’d known about him for the past 4 years was wrong, was pretty insensitive in my eyes. She just went about the whole thing badly. And I reacted badly.
The first few days after it happened I actually felt traumatized. Only other dog owners could understand. I look after Bert as well as I would a child and suddenly I felt disconnected to him – like he wasn’t mine anymore. As I said, it brought up some very primal emotions and made me really upset.
It’s such a shame it panned out as it did though, as the woman still has Bert’s pedigree papers and it would have been fabulous to have a copy. By being able to contact his breeder I would be able to discover if any others in the litter have back problems or food intolerances (Bert’s now on a totally grain free diet and doesn’t do well with poultry). Sadly it’s not to be.
So, there you have it. It took me an entire week, and a stern talking to from my friend K, to get my emotional equilibrium back but I’m fine again now. I am sad that Bert’s previous owner is also hurt and upset, but she’s not my concern – Bertie is.