Thursday, 15 June 2017

Finding Miss Nelly Bear Jones...

Our beloved Holly died this year aged 15.  I am still too raw to speak of her for too long.  But after several months of just Gus and I I felt the time had come for a new PupStar to join our pack.
I did not completely plan this but I found i had started looking at many rescue centres and their wonderful dogs looking for new homes.
At first I was automatically drawn to dogs that looked just like my Holl Doll.  But I managed to stop myself and realise what I was doing in time.  To get a replica of Holly would, in my opinion have been a disaster.  Holly was my dream dog, as a character and her physical beauty and soul.
She may have left me but she will be with me forever.  Now was time to discover a new character and give all the love I can to the new baby.
When Gus came to live with us 5 years ago, I picked him as the direct opposite of Holly so they could complement each other but never compete.

Holly loved her ball and walking by my side when we were out, whilst Gus is our look out scout, ranging far and wide. Holly tolerated other dogs, she found them a bit silly really.... Gus adores most dogs, bless him.   Indoors Holly's work was never done, checking the front and back door, tidying up her balls, keeping an eye on passers by, making sure I was safe whichever room I went to.  She was not one for cuddles and kisses and lounging about.
Gus? You guessed it - a total couch potato and snuggle bunny. The two were a perfect balance.  Gus worshipped Holly, Holly ... ummm ... she thought him a fool.  But they were great companions and the three of us had a wonderful loving life.
When Holly passed our lives became so quiet and Gus and I both became so old and grown up.  She may have been the older dog but she was the life and soul of our home.  The peace that swept over us was as ominous as our grief.  It felt like the life was sucked out of us.

But I could not find or quite gel with any other dog I saw.  I wanted a rescue, that was a no brainer.  I decided to take a slightly older pup, just as I had with Gus, as they possibly are not so easily snapped up.  I knew I would work hard and have the time to work through a dog that had certain issues BUT there was no point me taking on a dog that hated other dogs for example or could not come round to the constant stream of people who come into our lives at Holly&Lil.
So the casual search continued.
Then a few things fell into place and also a few reality checks.
Peter Egan, an actor and animal rights defender had mentioned Wild at Heart.  But I had not really thought about looking at a dog from overseas when there were so many in UK needing homes.
I had also read Robert Alleynes fascinating piece on the issues that can arise with taking on a dog that has lived on the streets for years.  He only cared about the welfare of the dog but was concerned of, for want of better words, the culture shock a street dog faces entering the UK.  Problems that need huge amounts of work to overcome, if they ever can be.  It was such a food for thought piece. I respect and admire Robert hugely so took his words on board.  Remember these are the hard facts you need to face when taking on a dog.  As my dog will spend its life meeting new people and dogs I did not want it to be unhappy.  I believe dogs do live in the day and with love and care they can come to a place of happiness BUT if a dog was too stressed by he bustle of life they would be better, possibly with a more peaceful NORMAL home. Roberts words should not put you off but he simply is posing questions that all of us need to ponder before taking on a dog.  When I took on Gus he had been straved and treated poorly.  He was even terrified of my Mum with an umberella... that was more than I had expected.  BUT we got through it.  Just ensure you are ready to meet the demands and socialisation your dog may need.

I'm going to try something new, and be a little controversial now. While I totally get the concept that a rescue dog is a dog in need of rescue - wherever it lives, I am concerned about some of the dogs being brought in from abroad. Some of them have lived in appalling conditions, and been horribly mistreated, and are in desperate need of help. But is shipping them to a pet home in the U.K. the right answer? Some of the dogs I see are totally shut down, and completely unable to cope with living in a house, never mind a house with children, and visitors, and traffic just outside the door. So I see a lot of broken dogs who hide, quaking whenever a visitor arrives, or who are too terrified to go out the door for walks. I saw one last week who after two years of living here still won't even go out into the garden unless the owner goes out there with it, never mind go for a walk. And I visited a client for four hours, but never saw the dog, as it was too terrified to come out from under the bed. Should these dogs really have been given to a pet owner with no experience of how to deal with such a dog? In my humble opinion, if they must be brought here (as we have a huge shortage of dogs needing homes in this country), they shouldn't be put into a pet home until they have spent enough time in foster to be manageable for a new owner.
However a little after that I was reading an article about rescue dogs and it mentioned Many Tears, of course but also gave information about the great work the Wild at Heart foundation do.

''Our mission end to the constant killing of dogs around the world. We aim to do this by managing dog populations humanely. By getting to the root of the issue which includes reducing uncontrolled breeding and supporting rehoming and education projects.We find that these are the most effective ways to protect animals in communities and humanely reduce the stray dog population. We fund and support animal welfare projects all over the world. ''

I had a quick look at their lovely site.  But still I did not quite see the one that tugged at my heart.  But then I clicked through to their individual instagram page and there was baby Ara.
I just could see something in her eye and ears that harked back to my Holly but she was cute and quirky and funny and I loved her.  I emailed the Wild at Heart people immediately but was told she and her sister had just found a home together.  I was sad but I accepted it and felt relieved to go back to my quiet life.  But I did like her enough to send her pic to a couple of pals.  I was saying to my friend Jo that I feared I was withdrawing from 'life' a teeny bit.  Since my 'divorce' I have kind of accepted that I will not be involved that way again.  And now with the passing of Holly I felt I might just plod on with Gus and then call it a day.  BUT Jo said she and my pack would not allow that.  She believed I had a lot of love to give a new dog and a lot of life to live.
But for now it was out of my hands .... however a week later the lady had not followed through so both dogs were available.  And they were happy to reserve her for me.  I was so happy but also super nervous.  I turned to some amazing friends who are experienced and trained in this field and they gave me a set of questions to ask to ease their worries.  They have seen dogs come in with such ingrained issues that they have then had to work hard with owners to turn around.  They felt in my grief stricken state I need joy, a few challenges but NOT real struggles.
Louise of The Darling Dog Company, who has been a friend for many, many years, got me to ask a few wise questions regarding Aras upbringing, her Mum, her health etc.  They were invaluable; She will happily help you every step of the way to do whats right for you to come to a sensible decision. 

Contact Louise for help and advice

Once I/we felt satisfied with the answers and they sent me some videos

These reassured me even more.  So all I had to do was pass the home check.  This was done by SKYPE and lasted about an hour, it was amazingly thorough and informative.  They did not sugar coat it, they explained she has not even lived in a home so will take some time to house train.  They told me in their opinion do not use puppy pads, just take her out regularly and reward her for doing her business.  And of a night have a house kennel/cage that is not too big.  Just enough room for her bed.  No dog likes to defecate in their bed and she should be able to hold herself for 6-7 hrs. She can be timid of people but loves dogs.  I checked with my pack and neighbours and mum that they felt they could work with me to make her happy and whole.   Chelsea, Concha, Connor and Jo will all come borrow her for a short bursts at a time, so she begins to learn the World loves her.  My neighbours will do the same.  The pack have given me a few weeks at home with her to get to know her before she faces them and Mums spotless house.  I will also get her into training classes probably in Stamford first then possibly a course in London too.

I have  a few weeks to work through my anxiety and begin to feel excited.  She arrives on 2nd or 3rd of July. Her name will now be Nelly Bear Jones....
I will let you know more about her when she gets here.

Sadly now her sister ASTI has not been homed and will be remaining behind in Romania until a home is found.
She is a sweet charming little dog and has less issues than her sister as she likes people and is less timid.  If any of you feel you could love and adore this little lady then please contact Wild at Heart or email me at Holly&Lil.