I am writing this blog from Scotland and from what I hear its much warmer than the South of France this week! Now you probably suspect I am spending my days lunching and shopping but although there has been quite a bit of that I have also been visiting our Scottish doggies, so in tonight’s blog we will follow their progress and look at the up and downs of taking on a rescue dog.
The first is of course Melba, who is my grand doggy! Melba was first adopted from the SPA when she was a pup but abandoned as a boisterous youngster. She spent several months waiting patiently at the SPA until Stuart and Juliette, my son and daughter in law, spotted her on our website. I hadn’t thought to Melba to them as they were definitely looking for a border collie but like lots of people, sometimes you just see a dog and decide that is the one. Melba travelled to Scotland with me in August and then the real fun began! Like lots of refuge dogs Melba was not house-trained so that was the first hurdle, this was easy to manage when they were in the house but as they both work during the day it did mean that the mop and bucket was required when they got back in! When left alone Melba howled, luckily there are no neighbours to disturb but getting a doggy walker has been indispensable in breaking up her morning and a friend with a spaniel pops in during the afternoon, so she now settles well and they come home to a clean house. Although Stuart had grown up with dogs Melba was signed up for doggy classes where she could meet and play with other dogs and learn the basics in doggy behaviour. She now sits, stays in a down until released and runs free, coming back to her whistle. I remember a phone call with Stuart a couple of weeks after they got Melba and he said ‘this dog training is really hard work, mum’…yes it is, but its well worth the effort! Seeing Melba run free, racing over the hills and sand dunes this week was magnificent! Melba spends the weekends on the hills and has already ‘bagged’ more Munro’s than I have! They now have a well-adjusted, happy girl who is an absolute delight to own and it all can’t have been too bad as they are now looking for a playmate for Melba so are avidly watching our arrivals! I wonder who it will be?
The next visit was with Maddie (ex Malaga). When this little girl arrived at the SPA with a neck wound and absolutely terrified, little did she know that she would not have too long to wait! Elinor and Dave a Scottish couple, have a holiday house in France and spend the summers here so after spotting Maddie’s photo on our website, took the opportunity to pop along and meet her. I remember them arriving at the refuge on a scorching August day and me having to carry Maddie into one of the parks she was so scared she just wouldn’t walk on the lead. It takes someone with a big heart and a lot of doggy experience to see past a dogs initial timidness but Elinor and Dave sat in the shade and just waited patiently until Maddie approached them. They were undaunted by her behaviour and reserved her on the spot! Maddie then travelled to Scotland with my hubby and there her real life began. Eiinor already has two Basset Fauve de Bretagne’s who soon showed Maddie the ropes and it certainly didn’t take her long to appreciate home comforts. Like Melba she too had to be house-trained but as Dave works from home she came on in leaps and bounds! Maddie too has started doggy school to improve her confidence with strangers and to improve her recall. When we visited last Sunday I could not believe the difference in Maddie, there was no sign of the scared, anxious dog that left France, all I could see was a happy, bouncy confident girl who raced around playing with the other dogs. So Maddie has gone from being a neglected hunting dog in France to a much loved family dog in Scotland. I wish all of our hounds could be so lucky!
It was a stunning morning when I drove to Cruden Bay yesterday to visit Garfield and Eclat. The sun was shining and the two hour drive up the east coast of Scotland was simply beautiful. Angie was a bit worried that Garfield wouldn’t be at his best for my visit as he was just back from the vets after being castrated. She needn’t have worried for he certainly recognised me giving me a fantastic welcome! I am so proud how well this young boy has done, adapting to life in a busy household with a 4 year old, a 15 month old and two Burmese cats! This is down to Angies sensible approach to how children, dogs and other animals can live in harmony. Garfield is still pulling a bit on the leash and can be distracted when off leash which is not unusual for a rescue dog so he too is off to doggy school. I bet in six months’ time he will be trotting along to heel and racing back when called, for there is one thing no one can deny, Garfield is a very, very clever dog! Garfield has gone from a boisterous out of control youngster to a lively, happy family dog who settled after a few minutes of me being in the house. I never care about young dogs going daft when I visit and I know not everyone likes dogs to be too enthusiastic with their welcome but each to their own and I love it!
Last but not least was my visit to Angies mums house to see Eclat. My goodness, this elderly spaniel who was chased out of two French villages before being brought to the SPA has truly fallen on all four paws. Eclat has a lovely walled garden which looks onto a North Sea estuary with sand dunes and miles of deserted beaches. He walks to heel when on leash but runs free daily on his walks. I had a lovely walk with him and couldn’t believe how well-behaved he was, racing over the beach but keeping a careful eye on us all the time! Angies mum only moved into that house the weekend of Eclat’s arrival so it was a new start for both of them. Eclat has helped her meet new friends as everyone wants to hear the story of how this lovely Brittany spaniel arrived in Scotland and he is also a great companion for her in her new house. With six young grandchildren Angies house is often chaotic but Eclat is always the perfect gentleman and loves all the attention! He is a great example of how one of our elderly, calmer dogs can go to a new family without any transition problems whatsoever!
So four months on we have four happy dogs in families who cant imagine life without them…well done to these families for taking a rescue dog and transforming its life! We now really do have dogs all over the UK and this time next month there will be three more, one in England and two in Wales…our SPA dogs are cosmopolitans, they can and do travel anywhere!
Melba on Lochnagar, a 20 km walk!
And afterwards a marrow bone and a sleep alongside Milly the cat (also from the SPA of course!)
Maddie, all ready for doggy school.
Garfield, not long back from the vets.
Eclat, racing back to his mum!