Having settled in France in January 2015 after a couple of years working in Honduras we decided that we were ready to have a dog again. As our family was growing up we had always had animals in the home, all from puppies and kittens, and decided that we would like to find a dog from a rescue centre – probably a slightly more mature dog to hopefully avoid the house training, two plus years of chewing and with a more relaxed, considered and less manic approach to life in general!
I visited the SPA Carcassonne at the beginning of June 2015 with a vague idea that we were looking for a small/medium sized bitch, but as soon as I saw Blackie (renamed Bakkie) I fell a little bit in love with his handsome face and expressive eyebrows. His demeanour was one of calm resignation that he would most likely be overlooked again – not surprising considering he had spent 3 of his 7 years in kennels. We had a little chat through his fence and despite his kennel mate berserking around doing the fandango Bakkie very quietly chatted back with me in a very gentlemanly manner. After going for a short stroll together and spending a little more time hanging out we thought we might suit each other very nicely thank you!
A couple of days later, once all the paperwork had been completed, I returned to the SPA with my husband to pick Bakkie up and bring him to his new home with us (despite my husbands surprise that he was neither small nor a bitch!). He travelled beautifully in the car for the hours journey and on arrival was inquisitive about his new surroundings but settled in very quickly. We have had no accidents in the house, we haven’t had anything chewed or destroyed, we have had to do very little in the way of training to lead on walks – in fact all the upsides to having a dog. And the best part has been getting to know Bakkie better, watching him gain in confidence and rediscover his ‘joie de vivre’.
Since we have had Bakkie we have done several trips to Andorra, Spain, the Alps and each time he has behaved impeccably – he loves travelling, hotel stays, mountain walks, beach walks and, in fact, only a couple of days ago he enjoyed his first swim in the canal (I think the ducks may have been an incentive to brave the cold!). Being slightly older he also really enjoys his down time, lazing in the sunshine in the warm and in the winter curled up on his bed in front of a fire.
An advantage of having a dog that has been in the refuge for a long time is that there won’t be any big surprises about their character – whatever their history before arriving at the refuge you can be confident in the fact that they have been gently and knowledgeably rehabilitated whilst there. We are toying with the idea of getting Bakkie a companion and when the time is right we will most definitely be returning to the SPA.