This month at Think Tasmania, we’re supporting Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania. We do have a personal connection, because we chose to adopt a dog ourselves from Risdon Vale about 18 months ago. We’d like to share our journey into pet ownership with you.

Adopt a Dog - Puppy
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Coco made herself at home right from the word go!

How to Adopt a Dog in Tasmania

Our decision to adopt a dog wasn’t taken lightly. When we were first married, we bought a puppy. Max was the silliest mutt ever, but he was loyal and loving and the absolute centre of our universe for ten years. When he went to doggie Heaven unexpectedly after a short illness, we were totally devastated. We just couldn’t face the thought of replacing him, and we still miss him dreadfully 16 years later. (Slight pause while the writer wipes away a few tears…)


 

Over the years, the kids heard countless stories about our adventures with Max, so there was little wonder they wanted a canine friend of their own. They harped and nagged and pleaded until we finally agreed to investigate the process required to adopt a dog.

Adopt a Dog - Max
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Max was a handsome boy with a beautiful nature

To be honest, we did also investigate other options. The thought of a non-shedding, allergy-friendly pooch was very appealing, and we made an appointment to visit a breeder in the Tasmanian midlands. We could choose the coat colour, the size and the gender; and pay an exorbitant fee for a designer mixed-breed. The dogs at the farm were all gorgeous, and we would’ve gladly taken home a boot-load of puppies straight away. But we didn’t.

Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania

By that stage, we’d already been to visit the Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania at Risdon Vale. We wanted to adopt a dog… to rescue one of those loving souls and give them a new home. The mature, sensible, already-trained versions really appealed to me. We even went to the RSPCA where there was an old border collie in need of some tender loving care. But besides the possible heartache of losing another dog too soon, the kids were adamant; they wanted a baby. It seemed only fair really, to let them enjoy the puppy stage of the relationship and create a life-long bond, just as we’d done with Max.

Adopt a Dog - Kids
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Never far from their side, Coco just loves the kids… and vice versa

We returned to Risdon Vale over many weekends as new dogs were arriving all the time. One day, we found the perfect puppy for us. She was a small, white terrier-cross with brown patches. We sat in the pen with her, played with her, named her and debated whose bed she’d sleep on. And then the staff told us she’d been placed “on hold” by another family. We phoned the office two days later at the designated time to confirm the adoption had proceeded. It had.


 

We kept stalking the website, where new dogs are listed, and returned to visit Risdon Vale as often as possible. One day, a litter of eight kelpie-husky-cross puppies were found abandoned and delivered to the Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania. My immediate thought was exercise; a breed like that would need LOTS of exercise. And the dog-hair… it would be everywhere! Of course the kids promised to brush her, and walk her, and even pick up the poop from the yard if they could just take her home.

Adopt a Dog - Beach
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Coco gets plenty of exercise each day, and loves running on the beach

Adopt a Dog - Fishing
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Coco is always part of the family’s activities, including fishing!

The Adoption Process

Princess Leia was in a cage with one of her brothers (Obi Wan Kenobi) and another unrelated pooch. She was a beauty and extremely hard to resist. One of the staff-members at the Dogs Home owned huskies and a kelpie, and gave us very detailed information about both breeds. We also arranged for Kim Wellspring, a qualified dog-trainer (and owner of So in Love Pet Photography) to assess the behaviour of Princess Leia.

Adopt a Dog - Dogs Homes of Tasmania
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Entrance foyer, Dogs Homes of Tasmania (Risdon Vale)

Adopt a Dog - Risdon Vale
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Our first meeting with Princess Leia at the Risdon Vale Dogs Home

Adopt a Dog - Puppy School
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When you adopt a dog, you’re given free training at puppy school

We knew we would face some challenges, but after much agonising, we decided it was right for our family to adopt a dog. This dog. We were asked to provide photos of our home’s fully-fenced yard to prove we could keep her safe. We paid the $300 adoption fee, and Princess Leia (since renamed Coco) was micro-chipped. We couldn’t take her straight away, because she had to be desexed and vaccinated beforehand.

Adopt a Dog - Digging
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Digging holes in the sand (and the garden!) another favourite pastime

When her stitches had healed, we bought a carrier-cage and a lovely new dog collar and collected Coco from Risdon Vale. She did not like the cage one little bit, and absolutely screamed all the way home. We’d never heard such an ungodly racket; it was far worse than a screaming human baby, that’s for sure! We were suddenly scared… had we made a big mistake?


 

After that fleeting moment of panic, Coco has given our family nothing but total joy. She soon learned to love a drive in the car. In fact, these days she waits at the garage door hoping to score an invitation whenever the car keys jangle. She is a bona fide member of the family and we love her to pieces.

Adopt a Dog - Waiting
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Coco waiting patiently for an invitation to go for a drive or a walk

Adopt a Dog - Drive
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A Sunday drive with all the family!

Life is very different now. Owning a dog does present restrictions and considerations, there’s no doubt about that. There’s also an extra burden on the household finances. Besides a bucket-load of food, Coco requires regular check-ups. We’ve registered at Tasmanian Animal Hospitals so they know Coco’s history and will send vaccination reminders. There’s also kennel or pet-sitting fees when we travel (unless the destination has pet-friendly accommodation).

Adopt a Dog - Sleeping
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For a cross-breed of working dogs, Coco does a LOT of sleeping!

Pet ownership is certainly not for everyone. But for our circumstances, the decision to adopt a dog was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Our baby is THE most spoiled creature on the planet, but she’s proving to be a wonderful guard dog and a best friend for the whole family.

Adopt a Dog - Guarding
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Coco chews another stuffed toy as she guards the property

There’s detailed information about how and why to adopt a dog from the Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania website. You can also follow Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania on Facebook. There are three locations to adopt a dog in Tasmania…

  • Hobart: 101 Scotts Road, Risdon Vale (03) 6243 5177
  • Burnie: 170 Stowport Road, Stowport (03) 6431 6199
  • Devonport: 13 Racecourse Road, Spreyton (03) 6427 2178
Adopt a Dog - Tired Baby
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Coco loves a cuddle, and there’s no shortage of them in our house!

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Map: Dogs’ Homes of Tasmania…