Tag the dog: Dalmatian
16 Oct 2014
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Brief lectures on dogs – their breeds, origins and personality traits
This series of articles is written to educate the reader about dog types and breeds. It is advisable to understand the original characteristics of
each type and breed of dog, from the point of view of choosing the best match for you and your family. Just like it is unwise to choose a human friend or companion based purely on good looks, a canine companion also needs to be chosen based on compatibility and not physical appeal alone.
Hell, and Dalmatian
In the past couple of years, my animal rescue work led me to take care of two
Dalmatians. Miffy was a one-year-old, who was rescued from a home where he was tied up his entire life and fed only sporadically. He spent a few weeks with me, in which time a great family came forward to adopt him. He now frolics in a garden and spends his time getting up to no good with a young human sister. Simba, a 13 year old female, did not have his turn of luck. She was abandoned at her age by a family who had never even vaccinated her. She was blind and deaf when she came to me, and had acute kidney failure, which led to her death exactly a month after she came to me. I briefly ran a sheIter for rescued dogs named ‘Simba’s Run’, in her memory. In the time that I spent with these two incredible dogs, I experienced the heaven that is living with a Dalmatian. There are troubles and then there is the Dalmatian; there is hell and then there is the Dalmatian.
The Dalmatian has been employed for various “jobs” over the years:
as a war dog, a sentinel, a shepherd, a fire rescue dog, a retriever and a bird dog. It was perhaps most popular, however, as a coach dog in Victorian England. It performed both practical and esthetic functions, protecting horses from attacker dogs and adding panache to processions of coaches. Because of the roles they were bred for, Dalmatians are athletic, love to run for miles and have an undying zest for life. As full of love and life as they are, here are some things to keep in mind, if the Dalmatian is high on the list of dogs you’d like to live with.
Dalmatians don’t tire easily.
I’m not kidding. Miffy, the one-year-old rescue I worked with, had probably never been on a walk in his life, till he came to me. After he was rescued, he never walked much either; he ran. Like the wind, like a little child running away from the school bully, like a caffeine-soaked kid with his little spotted pants on fire. Dalmatians are built for efficiency with their muscular, streamlined bodies and their propensity to be playful above and beyond the call of any puppy’s duty! If you don’t enjoy a good run or three every day, choose a dog with a more sedentary personality. For this dog, a short walk on a
leash amounts to cruelty. And he or she will let you know in no uncertain terms.
Dalmatians have a low tolerance for cold.
Their short, smooth coats don’t protect them well enough from the cold. They do moderately well as outdoor dogs in temperate and warm climates, but if you live in a serene hill station or a place that’s likely to get very cold in the winter, understand that your Dalmatian will have to have equal access to both the outdoors and the indoors. More importantly, a Dalmatian is a highly affectionate dog and needs companionship on a cold, cold night or a warm one. If you don’t like a good, sincere cuddle or think that a dog’s primary role is to guard your house, perhaps you shouldn’t get a dog at all, but definitely don’t try to live with a Dalmatian. He or she will wander off with the first person who shows a capacity for love. Miffy came into my home and never once showed any signs of missing the family that kept him outdoor on a tiny leash.
Dalmatians and posts often have something in common.
About 30% of all Dalmatians have varying degrees of deafness. This is a genetic trait and doesn’t change the quality of the dog’s life, if he or she lives with the kind of humans who understand this. If you find that your Dalmatian is particularly stubborn during training, don’t yell at the dog; he probably can’t hear you anyway. Instead, get a hearing test done and consult a canine behaviourist about how best you can work with your dog’s special needs. Many breeders and breeding clubs maintain that deaf Dalmatians should be euthanized. In the same way as differently-abled humans live long and happy lives, so can differently-abled animals. Contrary to what we humans have clearly led ourselves to believe, all creatures are created equally.
Dalmatians have a high guarding instinct.
This can be a good and a bad thing. On the one hand, this means you never have to worry about cold dark nights and the imaginary or real intruders they might bring, because your Dalmatian will take care of that problem. On the other hand, if raised irresponsibly, your Dalmatian might grow into a possessive dog. Socialisation at a young age comes highly recommended for this breed, since they have a propensity to dislike other dogs. Because of their highly energetic nature, Dalmatians are also considered unfit for families with young children. However, as in the case of any dog or human, this is merely a question of good upbringing.
Movies like 101 Dalmatians increased the popularity of this breed manifold.
Suddenly, everyone wanted a spotted beauty. Too much eagerness and too little research brought about a terrible fate for several Dalmatians. The fad got out of control as irresponsible breeders stopped at nothing to produce scores of dogs to satisfy the growing “demand”. Over the years, several Dalmatian rescue groups have had to be set up in order to rescue these dogs from unethical breeders, unprepared families and unspeakable cruelty. Before becoming an enabler of this, however passively, you should understand the lovely Dalmatian’s lust for life and love.