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"There are some really bad days." Every question we had for The Dog House matchmaker, answered.

If you're anything like us, chances are, every Tuesday night you've been religiously tuning into Channel Ten to laugh, cry, and cuddle your dog for an hour while watching The Dog House Australia.

In case you missed it, The Dog House is an extremely wholesome show that takes us inside the Animal Welfare League, a pet rescue in Western Sydney where shelter staff match their dogs to the perfect homes.

In an earlier article, you may have seen me offer a beer to the people who work at the AWL, because they are my heroes. 

Well, while no one took me up on that offer (...yet!), last week I had the opportunity to jump on a call with Tayla Meath, a matchmaker from the Dog House, to pick her brain on everything that goes on at the Animal Welfare League in a typical week. 

She (very generously) answered all my questions about behind-the-scenes action, adopting dogs, and anything else I wanted to know about rescue pups.

Watch the trailer for the Dog House. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia

Here's what she had to say:

Those surrender scenes really are that brutal.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking aspect of the Dog House happens when families come in to their shelter to surrender their dog for varying reasons. But, Tayla says it's not as black and white as many assume it to be. 

"It's hard for any person to surrender their animal and as much as you want to be angry or frustrated, you have to take into consideration that person's life and the decisions they've had to make," she said.

"People will generally try a lot of revenues before they will surrender their animal here... A lot of retirement villages don't let animals go [with their owners] as you'll see on the show quite a bit."

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"We do have some more mature people come in that can't take their animals with them, and it's absolutely heartbreaking. They've had these animals for years, and the person has no choice but to go into retirement villages, and they can't take their animal with them."

At other times, the reasoning is less clear.

"Sometimes we don't get a lot of background on why they can't care for the animal, they will just fill in the form and just say 'I'm unable to care for them anymore', and that might be for private reasons, or they might've just given up on the animal because that can happen.

"We do get those people that just don't want their animal anymore. It's too hard or they're too high energy. They're escaping because they've got anxiety, or the medical bills and too much and they just can't care for them anymore. And so they bring them here."

It's Tayla's least favourite part of her job.

"Seeing that happy dog come in with their owner and they think they're just here for a visit... then watching them watch their owner walk away... That's the most heartbreaking part because we have no way of telling them what's happened. They just don't understand why mum and dad have left them here."

... But working in the rescue can also be very rewarding.

Aside from, you know, being surrounded by dogs all day, Tayla says the perks of the job are very, very rewarding.

"You see a dog from when they come in, and they're scared... they don't want to eat, or toilet, or go outside. Then you work with them, and you build that relationship and you can translate that onto a member of public," she said. 

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"You watch the dog completely ignore you [when they're going home with their new family] and it breaks your heart, but if they ignore you, they jump into that car and they're off - sticking their little head out the window with their little cheeks flapping in the wind. 

"It's the best feeling when you watch them drive out [of the rescue]. And we say to [the dogs]; 'I hope to never see you again,' as bad as that is. It's why we work so hard — for that moment when they drive out of here with their head out the window ready to start their new lives with their new people."

*Crying RN.* 

Rescue dogs are a lot more reliable than you might think.

According to Tayla, plenty of people assume dogs from breeders may be a "safer bet" to adopt, but finding the right rescue dog might bring you more success than you'd think.

"With our guys here, we do a lot of training with them and all their medical work is done. What you see is what you get, whereas some places or breeders might hide certain things to make sure that they get paid, or get the animal out of their possession. 

"We're completely charity run here so nothing's about the money. It's about getting those animals into homes and ensuring that they have the best welfare.

"The idea that [rescue dogs] are broken, or they're going to be too difficult, or untrainable; the whole, you can't teach an old dog new tricks idea is completely false, because you absolutely can."

But not every story is a success story.

Now and then, dogs make their way back to the shelter despite the matchmakers best efforts. And it can be pretty disheartening. 

"You either have really, really great days or really, really bad days," Tayla told Mamamia.  

"[The dogs] finally gets that shot at being out [of the shelter], and we all do our little celebrations. You can see on the show how excited we get because these are our babies as well. 

"We spend so much time with them, getting them to trust people and explaining how the animal is. So when they do come back, or if they do come back, it is quite deflating.

"We have a really good foster program here so quite often they'll come back and we'll pop them straight into a foster home so they're not here in the shelter worrying that 'oh have I done something wrong to be back here?' And you can see they, they are quite upset when they do come back, but doesn't happen super often. We're very lucky with that."

So... how should you go about adopting?

"Give us a call and have a chat!" Tayla says.

"Our phone lines are open every single day. It's nice when we have people ring and say: 'I've seen scruffy online, and I'd like to know more about him. Would my home and lifestyle be suitable?' as opposed to 'I like this dog. I want to adopt it'."

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When you're meeting your pup at the shelter, Tayla suggests you "let the animal make all the decisions" and approach you first. 

"Don't go trying to force any pats or love on them. The best way to do it is to get on the level, have a sit down unless it's a really high energy animal, then you might need to stand up so you don't get knocked over, but generally just get on their level and let them make all those decisions."

Finally, Tayla suggests that everyone stays open-minded about the dog that will be the best fit for you.

"It's great to have some pointers to give us so that we can narrow [the search] down, but don't be certain on the dog that you have in your mind, because that dog might be in another dog's body. You might think you're after that little fluffy dog, but that could be in the body of a beautiful bully breed!"

Sold yet? The Dog House Australia is currently casting to find families for season two. If you'd like to be a part of it, you can apply here.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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