Homechecks are a vital part of the adoption process. Many years ago, we used to do homechecks with the potential adoptee in tow.
On some occasions, everything would go beautifully, and on others, the homecheck can just seem to lurch from one disaster to another.
We had the most lovely Poodle some to us called Monty. He was a big, black Standard Poodle, but had one vice - he really didn’t like cats.
However, a lovely couple who’d adopted from us before were besotted by Poodles, and really wanted Monty to meet them at home. They did have cats, but they assured us that the cats were more than savvy; one of their other poodles hated cats too.
Monty met their old poodle outside, and got on famously, and so we all retired to the house where Monty was allowed to have a good explore of the spacious open-plan living room and kitchen.
Everything was going very smoothly, until a cat sauntered into the room. There was a moment of complete stillness as the cat and Monty stared each other out. We started to move toward Monty to grab his lead…
This section contains stories of bravery, stories of companionship and stories about rescue dogs.
Inspire Your Dog Blog Page
Welcome To Inspire Your Dog!
Inspire Your Dog is designed to not only help you and your dog through any difficult times you're having, but give you lots of ideas and resources for all the good times too.
There's a lot of free information here, but if you sign up, you’ll discover lots more advice, ideas and general good old fashioned common sense. We steer clear from the use of often intimidating training and behavioural 'buzz words' and explain things in plain, easy to understand language.
There are two levels of access to Inspire Your Dog – free, and paid. You can access the free content without an account. However, to add comments and see the full content of all the articles on the site, you’ll need a paid subscription.
We have stories about the history of dogs, how they've influenced famous historical figures and even religions. There are articles on rescue dogs, along with all the advice to help you diagnose and pinpoint any issues you might be having with your dog.
There will be plenty of content being added all the time and subscribed members will be able to suggest ideas, topics and perhaps even submit their own doggy stories.
So, have a look around, and enjoy the site!
Dogs In History
Stories of dogs and their owners are important themes throughout literature, art and history. From the Ancient Greeks up to more modern figures such as Napoleon Bonaparte, dogs have influenced artists, writers and even military men throughout the centuries. Here are a few examples:
Argos and Odysseus
One of the most famous examples of a dog in myth and legend is that of Argos, in Homer’s Odyssey. Argos was the faithful companion of Odyesseus.
In the story, Odysseus journey back to his home takes two decades. He discovers that while he has been away, several suitors have been vying for the hand of his wife, Penelope. They have made themselves very much at home within Odysseus’ walls, whilst his dog Argos has been neglected and forgotten.
Odysseus decides to enter the house in secret, so as to surprise the unwelcome suitors. It is crucial that he is not recognised by anyone. Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus approaches his home, his identity known only to his son Telemachus. The disguise is so effective even Odysseus’ close friends fail to recognise him.
Odysseus spots his old canine companion, lying weary and neglected on a mound of cattle manure. Poor Argos is old, tired, infested with lice and a shadow of his former self. Argos had been Odysseus’ loyal hunting dog, and once possessed impressive speed and strength.
Although his senses are not as sharp as they used to be, Argos sees through his master’s disguise. Although he is far too weak to stand, he summons up the strength to drop his ears and wag his tail.
Odysseus recognises Argos, but despite wanting to greet his faithful friend, is unable to do so, as it would reveal his identity. As Odysseus passes by Argos, he sheds a tear for his faithful friend,and enters the hall of the house.
As Odysseus enters the house, that single tear still rolling down his cheek, Argos slips away into the afterlife knowing that his master had returned.
Diogenes of Sinope
While we are looking at the work of philosophers, it would be remiss to ignore the philosopher who had the most respect and admiration for the personality and virtues of dogs.
Diogenes of Sinope was a rather long-lived philospher born around 412BC, and lived to the venerable age of 81. He rejected all forms of material wealth, and was even found to live in a large ceramic jar. He was certainly someone with very strong views and opinions; he wasn’t afraid to mock Alexander The Great in public, and also would sabotage Plato’s lectures on Socrates’ teachings. He had a keen hatred for Plato and his work.
Diogenes believed that dogs could teach humans many virtues. He believed that they lived in the present without anxiety, he admired their ability to sleep anywhere and eat anything. He believed that dogs were inherently honest, and that appealed to his view on the world.
Whilst Diogenes of Sinope was an anti-social troublemaker who caused headaches for many, he has been the inspiration for many artistic works. Paintings, plays and books mention him heavily. Perhaps the most impressive artistic endeavour inspired by Diogenes of Sinope is the statue erected in his honour at Sinop in Turkey, which shows Diogenes with a dog standing next him. The statue is inscribed “Other dogs bite their enemies, I bite my friends to save them.”
Perhaps not famed as a dog lover - and famously bitten by one of Josephine's canine companions, a Pug called Fortune - Napoleon did have a healthy respect for them and their virtues. On one occasion, Napoleon slipped and fell overboard one of his sea-going vessels. Napoleon himself could not swim, and had it not been for the bravery of a Newfoundland that came to his aid, keeping him afloat until he was plucked from the sea, Napoleon would have perished in a watery grave.
On his safe return to the vessel, Napoleon observed “Here, Gentlemen, a dog teaches us a lesson in humanity.”
On another occasion, when surveying the aftermath of a battle, Napoleon is said to have been led to the body of a slain soldier by the soldier’s loyal dog. Napoleon recounted the moment, which haunted him to his dying day.
“This soldier, I realised, must have had friends at home and in his regiment; yet he lay there deserted by all except his dog. I looked on, unmoved, at battles which decided the future of nations. Tearless, I had given orders which brought death to thousands. Yet here I was stirred, profoundly stirred, stirred to tears. And by what? By the grief of one dog."
Dogs In Religion
“Man is the Reasoning Animal. Such is the claim. I think it is open to dispute. Indeed, my experiments have proven to me that he is the Unreasoning Animal... In truth, man is incurably foolish. Simple things which other animals easily learn, he is incapable of learning. Among my experiments was this. In an hour I taught a cat and a dog to be friends. I put them in a cage. In another hour I taught them to be friends with a rabbit. In the course of two days I was able to add a fox, a goose, a squirrel and some doves. Finally a monkey. They lived together in peace; even affectionately.
Next, in another cage I confined an Irish Catholic from Tipperary, and as soon as he seemed tame I added a Scotch Presbyterian from Aberdeen. Next a Turk from Constantinople; a Greek Christian from Crete; an Armenian; a Methodist from the wilds of Arkansas; a Buddhist from China; a Brahman from Benares. Finally, a Salvation Army Colonel from Wapping. Then I stayed away for two whole days. When I came back to note results, the cage of Higher Animals was all right, but in the other there was but a chaos of gory odds and ends of turbans and fezzes and plaids and bones and flesh--not a specimen left alive. These Reasoning Animals had disagreed on a theological detail and carried the matter to a Higher Court.”
― Mark Twain, Letters from the Earth: Uncensored Writings
When we think of the animals that the Egyptians loved the most, we tend to think of cats. The beautiful sleek lines of a persian type cat sitting imperiously and surveying the Egyptian people. The carved body of the Sphinx, with the body of a cat and the head of a Pharoah.
Dogs were also very highly regarded in Egyptian religion, and one of the most well known Gods, Anubis was a dog-like creature. Some Egyptologists believe him to be a Jackal, whereas others point to the translation of inscriptions which describe that Anubis had a “face like a dog”. Whether he had the face of a dog, or was a jackal isn’t hugely important, because all dogs, foxes, wolves and other similar canids were all under his watchful gaze.
In one discovery, an entire cave was found to be full of canid bones, from dogs, foxes, wolves and jackals. There are thought to be millions of animal bones in the caves in the Anubieion catacombs at Saqqara.
In Egyptian lore, dogs were thought to be very important in guiding the dead into the afterlife. Anubis himself was the lord of the underworld, and he would be responsible for embalming and the preparation of the dead, as well as guiding them into the next life. It is possible that the Anicient Egyptians associated Anubis with the dead, as Jackals would often have been seen roaming graveyards and other sites where carrion would be found.
This idea that dogs were a guide into the next world isn’t just an idea the Egyptians had, there are many other cultures and religions that also believed in the guiding spirits of their dogs.
Like in many other cultures, dogs were important, and required respectful treatment even after death. Dogs were mummified, buried with their owners and sometimes even laid to rest in their own coffins.
Images of dogs have often been found on wall decorations and decorative objects. According to Egypotologists, the eariest representation of a domestic dog can be found on the Moscow cup, which dates from around 4,500 BC. There are many examples of dogs depicted wearing collars from 3500 BC.
The anicient Egyptians also used a illiterative word for dog - “iwiw”, which was supposed to represent their bark. In Ancient Egypt, dogs were used in all sorts of ways; not just as pets, but hunting dogs and guard dogs. They were also used as part of the military and police.
It seems unbelieveable, but even the names of dogs have survived through the years - names such as Brave One, Good Herdsman, Reliable and even the name Useless have been found on leather collars and inscriptions. Other names are as familiar as the ones we use today derived from their colour, such as Blackie.
So while the cat gods of Anicent Egypt hog all the limelight, dogs had a hugely important role in guiding Anicent Egyptians into the afterlife.
One such religion that believes there’s a significant role for a dog to play regarding the afterlife is Zoroastrianism. In the Zoroastriian scriptures, the Chinwat Bridge to Heaven is guarded by dogs. Often, dogs are fed in commemoration to the dead.
The Venidad, which is a part of the Zoroastrian holy book Avesta, has detailed instructions over the care of dogs, and also outlines the, in some cases severe, punishments for those to injure or harm a dog.
Zoroastrianism believes that dogs are a regarded a righteous creature, which must be fed and taken care of. They are not only seen as having spritual significance, but are appreciated for their role within families.
In Zoroastrianism, even a dog's gaze has a significant power; it is said that a dog’s gaze is purifying and can keep demons away.
It was believed that a person should treat a dog in exactly the same way they should a man, and if they did harm to a dog, they should be punished in the same way they would have been punished for doing harm to a person. In fact, the act of killing a dog was considered to lead to damnation in the afterlife.
They believed that if a pregnant bitch laid near your house, it was your responsibility to look after the mother until she had given birth to those pups, and the pups are ready to fend for themselves. If the householder did not look after the pregnant bitch and puppies, then they would be punished in the same way as if they’d caused harm to a pregnant woman.
Even the careful feeding of a dog was important, and the penalties for causing harm by feeding the wrong food was severe. Feeding a dog food that was too hot, or bones that could get stuck in it’s throat were serious offences.
Guarding the way to Heaven was not the only service that dogs provided in death. There is a funeral ceremony called “Sagdid” (or Dog Sight), in which a dog is brought into the room where the body is lying so that the dog may look upon the body. It’s believed that a dog will notice is the person is still alive, as it’s senses are much more acute than that of a human. It is believed that a four-eyed dog, is preferred during “Sagdid”. Rather than meaning a dog with four eyes literally, it means a dog who has two dots above it’s eyes, giving it the impression of four eyes.
Sarama is the female dog of the Gods in Hinduism, and is described as “the mother of all dogs”. The male dog, Shvan is the mount of the Hindu god Bhairava.
The significance of dogs is an important one in Hinduism, and as part of the five-day festival of Tihar, dogs are worshipped by applying tika (the holy vermillion dot) on their forehead, and using marigold flowers as garlands.
As a familiar theme to other religions, Hindus believe that dogs guard the doors of Heaven and Hell.
Cultures Of Mesoamerica
Many cultures throughout Southern America, and especially areas in Mexico also believed that dogs were a guide to the afterlife.
Mayans are another culture who also believed that dogs were a guide to the afterlife. In the remains of the Mayan city of Kaminaljuyu in Guatemala, a dog was found together with the skeleton of a sitting human, alongside grave goods. There are many other examples of Mayan burials which suggests a spiritual link between dogs, and crossing over to the underworld.
In some classic Mayan depictions, dogs are shown as carrying a torch, which is believed to represent the belief that it was the dog which brought man the gift of fire.
In Aztec mythology, it was believed that a great flood caused the Fourth Sun to vanish. Inside a log, a single man, and a single woman survived. They built a fire, and cooked fish upon it - the smoke from the fire angered the stars Citlallatonac and Citlalicue, which sent the great god Tezcatlipoca into a rage. In his fury, he severed the heads of the man and the woman, and stitched then onto their rears - apparently creating the first dogs.
In Aztec culture, dogs were also linked to the afterlife. Xolotl was the God of death, and the canine companion of the Sun.
In a story similar in flavour to the Aztec one, a Jakaltek tale from the Guatemalan Highlands recounts the creation story. In the story of creation, the first dog sees the creation of the world, and runs everywhere spilling the secrets of creation to anyone who will listen. Hunab-Kuh (the Creator) was enraged, and as punishment swaps the dog’s head for it’s tail. So, anytime a dog wishes to tell any secrets, all it can do is wag it’s tail.
Chinatecs And Mixes of Oaxaca
Chinantecs and Mixes of Oaxaca also believe that dogs have an important role to play in getting to the underworld. They believe that a black dog will help the newly dead to cross a body of water, either a river or a sea, to the land of the dead.
It seems, rather like the general thoughts on animals, that the more modern we get, opinions change. A lot of modern, mainstream religions believe the dog is a dirty or ‘unclean’ animal. There are references to dogs not having souls. There are religions who don’t see ‘Heaven’ as having room for dogs.
Certainly our idea of Heaven wouldn’t be Heaven without our canine friends waiting to see us.
The Story Of The Dog
The world was conquered through the understanding of dogs; the world exists through the understanding of dogs.
- Friedrich Nietzsche
It’s perhaps a consequence of the modern age that we think that we are now at our most sophisticated. The more advanced we get, the more we seem to forget about our past, and find it very easy to forget exactly how much we take our history for granted.
People often think of our relationships with dogs to run back a few hundred years, or maybe a couple of thousand years. In actual fact our story starts much, much further back than that.
The history of humans living alongside dogs as companions and co-workers is an incredibly long one. The latest discoveries show evidence of domesticated dogs living with humans over 33,000 years ago.
To put that amount of time into context, Neanderthals were still alive and well 33,000 years ago (although within the next few thousand years they would become extinct). Some of the earliest, most famous cave paintings date from around 40,000 years ago.
All of the things we take for granted today have happened after our bond with dogs was established. We discovered how to live alongside dogs long before we uttered a complicated modern language, devised an organised religion or wrote a single letter of an alphabet. It’s incredible to think that we’ve been cultivating this long friendship for so long.
The great ancient civilisations we see as huge steps forward in human history such as the Egyptian Pyramids, the Philosophers of Greece or the Aztec empire all came long after our bond with dogs. Stonehenge was built up to 7,000 years ago, but our friendship with canines stretches further back by another 26,000 years.
It’s perhaps tempting to imagine that our relationship was a rudimentary one; that these days we have a much more complex relationship with our pets. However, evidence for humans treating dogs as a special kind of animal and having a unique place within our cultures is found all over the world at different points in history.
Discoveries such as joint human and dog burials have been found in the Bonn-Oberkassel burial sites in Germany. These burials are estimated to be from around 14,000 years ago.
The Swedish site of Skateholm also contains examples of canine burials. The site dates from around 5200-3700 BC, showing that during the period of the hunter gatherer, humans were sharing this food with their canine companions, and respected them enough to give them their own burials.
This isn’t just restricted to Europe. The earliest example of a dog burial in the Americas dates to around 11,000 years ago in Danger Cave, Utah.
There's a fascinating discovery of a burial in the Cis-Baikal region of Siberia which suggests that in some cases dogs were awarded equal status with humans. The remains of a dog, believed to be a husky type was discovered and was radiocarbon dated to approximately 6200 years ago. The body was buried in a formal cemetery in the same style as the human burials.
Whilst disputed by some experts, the latest mitochrondrial DNA testing of domesticated dog remains suggest that the domestication of dogs took place all over the world at different times, rather than one single event of one type of dog being domesticated. Given that we only have a tiny fraction of the fossil record discovered so far, it isn’t much of a stretch to believe that although DNA is giving us strong evidence of this, the other definitive pieces of this puzzle are still out there waiting to be found.
It’s a fascinating thought that all across the world at different times, humans and canines formed a special bond. The fact that this bond wasn’t something that flourished from a single event, but instead a connection happened between two very different species in different times and places suggests that there’s something very unique about the way humans and dogs interact with each other. Almost as though these two very different species found something in common, and instinctively understood each other.
All over the world, dog remains have been found alongside the remains of humans, giving strong evidence to the idea that we've had a strong bond for many thousands of years.
Mesolithic settlers are thought to be the first to domesticate dogs in what would become Britain. Our history as dog lovers stretches back a long way!
All across the world, there are examples of human / dog co-habitation and cooperation. It simply cannot be a coincidence that man and dog became such close companions.
So, why is all this important?
We think it’s really important to understand that as a species, we’ve probably forgotten more than we now know about dog behaviour and just living with them. 33,000 years of experience have largely been forgotten. As we moved through the time, getting more and more advanced, we’ve begun to leave our canine friends behind. We seem to have lost our respect and admiration for them. For many thousands of years, we’ve shared our lives with them, but now have got to a stage where many see dogs as a problem or an inconvenience. Are they really a pet, or a unique example of how two species can work together to become companions on a journey through life?
If we can start appreciating them for the amount they’ve actually done for us as a species, perhaps we’ll listen to them a little more when they’re trying to tell us something.
Whilst we think we’re more advanced, we’ve stopped listening to our canine friends. Humans have stopped putting the effort in, and expect the dog to make all the compromises - even though our dogs don’t understand why they no longer fit into our world like they used to.
To make the balance between us and them work, it’s time to pay attention to them and listen to them like we used to. To understand that bond, let’s look back at how we used to see dogs.
This section is full of information and history of dogs in general. From the historical beginnings of the dog, to famous dogs, there's lots of stories and information telling you all about our canine friends.