My Rescue Dog
Imagine the scene. 24 dogs waiting to move to their new kennels. Barking, howling, yowling and excited chattering. Mayhem. Dog number 25 is lying in her cage. A black mass with quiet, intense eyes watching everything over a big bushy tail. Silent. This was Sadie. The eyes had it and Sheena ScraftonI fell in love with her straight away.
Sadie had recently been rescued from a local croft, having finally been abandoned after spending the first three years of life locked in a shed. Apart from having the clarted hair removed from her rear end and a long thin scar down her muzzle where she had repeatedly pushed her nose under her enclosure, she didn’t look too bad for a long haired Belgium Shepherd x collie.
Predictably, she was terrified of everything and almost anyone. She preferred her cage to the garden. When she did go out, she had no strength to run or jump with the other dogs. She didn’t know how to play and her lack of canine social skills meant she misread body language, resulting in misunderstandings and squabbles.
She wasn’t housetrained. She ate her poo and everyone elses– dog, cow, deer, horse and rabbit. Feeding time was a desperate rush to complete her meal so she could start on every other dogs’ bowl before they finished. She drank water as if there was a drought forecast, dousing her head in the bucket and finally putting all four paws in for a wash.
Throughout the days of training, walking, playtime, grooming and handling she never showed any signs of aggression or bad temper. As she grew in confidence she went exploring in the garden on her own, wanted to be the first out of the front door and began to sniff the paths and fields, learning to use her nose for the first time. An excited light appeared in her eyes.
Agility training really brought joy to her heart. Getting private training to run and jump– what could be better?
As I write this and look down at her sleeping at my feet, I feel proud of her achievements. She is brave, gentle and trusting. She has a great sense of humour and is willing to try almost anything. She has learned to live well with other dogs and to accept other humans. She still eats like there is no tomorrow. She loves nothing better than jumping into the garden pond whatever the weather, trailing water into the house. She adores the beach. She hoards toys and rubbish, hiding them in her bed for hard times that might be ahead - rather like a prisoner of war who never knows when things might come in handy.
When I left her at the starting point of her first agility competition she instantly ran across the course all the way back to our van. Now she can complete a round, usually in the correct order! If the judge is a man wearing a hat, I know we will bypass him at the expense of a contact or two, but it really doesn’t matter.
I keep discovering things that frighten her - kids kicking a football; banging boots together to get the mud off; electronic beeps from the washing machine and any unpredicted, sudden movements. Every day is a learning experience for both of us.
Sadie has taught me patience, quietness and to accept each dog for what they are and for what they can give. She has also taught me to put all food out of reach! To see her content and relaxed at the end of the day is success. To see her play and have fun is success. To see her put her nose up and smell the breeze is success. To allow the male vet to give her the annual check-up without complete panic is success. Her success. She is doing well. We are lucky to have found each other.
To celebrate the opening of their new multi-dog friendly holiday cottages, situated at Laverock Indoor Agility Centre, Mandy and Marcus Bainbridge sponsored a special competition. The prize was a weeks free holiday in the beautiful Durham countryside. There were, in fact, two weeks up for grabs - one for each of the winners of the categories of "My Special Dog" and "My Rescue Dog". The entries were judged by author and retired vet Neville Turner MRCVS.
Neville, who is also a keen animal/wildlife photographer and lectures on the QE2 was
overwhelmed by the number of entries received and the stories told. "Everyone was a winner" he
said, "and my wife and I were frequently reaching for out the box of tissues. But there were 2
in particular that I felt stood out. I made a shortlist of 5 in each category and also asked my
wife which she would choose and to my delight she chose the same as me so I knew I had made the
right decision....! "