| Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Family pets in Dubai

Time Out Kids gets the lowdown on canine companionship from K9 Friends

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In these times of financial uncertainty, it is more important than ever to consider the long-term implications of pet ownership. And yet, when your little ones plead tearfully that they ‘really want a dog,’ it’s tough to dismiss their requests.

After all, just because your children live in another country, doesn’t mean they should forgo the pleasures and benefits of sensible pet ownership, right? Well, your current location does mean that owning a dog, with a lifespan of 10 to 15 years, requires careful consideration.

Sofi Longhurst, a full-time volunteer at K9 Friends, Dubai’s non-profit dog rescue organisation, is passionate about rehoming her furry charges, but says people who become pet owners on a whim, even with the best of intentions, are a thorn in their side.

‘We joke that when you come to K9 Friends, we do our best to dissuade you from having a dog, because we want our animals to go to homes that won’t return them a fortnight later. Too often, people fall in love with a waggy tail, only to discover they don’t like fur over their furniture or their shoes chewed.’

Puppies can be a handful, so Sofi encourages the adoption of older dogs and stresses a household where everyone disappears out to work and school is not ideal. ‘Dogs need someone around in the day. They get distressed when shut in a house alone, and can get destructive and noisy as a result.’

Exercising a dog is a dedication that can soon become burdensome. ‘Dogs need an hour’s exercise a day, minimum. If you can’t offer that because of other commitments, then you should rethink your decision,’ she says. Education is high on K9’s agenda and the centre holds talks for schools on pet care and responsibility. Says Sofi, ‘Dogs do make amazing pets, but they also come with a great deal of responsibility, so we’re very happy to educate potential new owners before they take that step.’

Despite the hard work, dogs can be wonderful companions and are great for kids. Jan Errant has two rescue dogs who sleep outside her kids’ bedrooms. ‘My older son, who suffers from nightmares, will often wake up, see our labrador snoring away in the doorway, and drift off again because he feels safe. Having a pet teaches children from a very early age that they have to respect animals. It has been a very positive learning experience for both my children.’

Time Out Dubai,

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