A love story

I wasn’t going to do another blog this week. However in light of my poem yesterday, I got a tweet from a friend of mine on Twitter. She’s a lady by the name of Kristin Boes, also known as @catladyfurever. This lady rescued a 10 year old beagle originally called Edna and quickly re-named Daisy. Her story was published in a local magazine and can be found here –

https://petceteracolumbus.com/domesticated .

I read the story and admit that it really got to me, as a rescue dog myself. Daisy wasn’t looked after well, it seems, in her life prior to arriving at the rescue centre and to meeting Kristin and her husband. Once Daisy had adopted them, her life was full of happiness, compassion and understanding. And hugs. Plenty of hugs and kisses. Daisy went to the Rainbow Bridge on 27th February 2019. However she went with the knowledge that the last years of her life showed her what it is like to be loved and cared for in an environment where accidents aren’t punished and love is given freely. The following poem written by Kristin, deserves a read, I think.

I spent the first ten years of life

Trapped inside a cage

Then wound up at a shelter

Unwanted for my age

I spent my days in loneliness

Confusion and in doubt

Wondering if there’d ever be

Someone to let me out

But then one day a lady came

And saw beyond the grey

And ever since that moment

Every day’s been my best day

I don’t know how to be a dog

I couldn’t if I tried

I don’t know how to play with toys

I sometimes pee inside.

No one taught me any tricks

I’m not so great with leashes

But there’s one thing I’m amazing at

I love my mom to pieces.

When mommy comes home every day

From where she went without me

It’s better than a million treats!

I love her so devoutly.

She could have picked a little pup

A cuter one, or bolder

But mommy tells me all the time

She loves that I am older.

My usual state is sleepy

I like to take long naps

My favourite place in all the world

Is on or near a lap.

I don’t claw up the furniture

Or chew on peoples clothes

And everyday I’m thankful

That I’m the one she chose.

I may not be the perfect dog

Though I try and do my best

My first ten years were terrible

But she saved all the rest.

Some lines in the poem resonate with me. I want to pick out a couple.

She could have picked a little pup“. How many people look through rescue websites and scan over the older dogs but are immediately attracted to a puppy or juvenile which is probably going to be as much of a handful as an older fur.

I don’t know how to be a dog“. For someone to look at a sentient creature and wonder that they don’t know how to be a dog, must have been so utterly challenging and demoralising for both Kristin and Daisy. How can a dog not know “how” to be a dog, how to play with toys, how to interact? What life did poor Daisy have before she adopted her humans. That last part is the bit I don’t want to know.

This is Daisy. I think you need only look at her face to see what she thought of her, sadly too few, years in a loving home.

As for the line in the poem, “I may not be the perfect dog“. I shall leave that to your own thoughts. Daisy looks happy to have had a chance to live out her last years in comfort with love and affection. Daisy was perfect in Kristin’s eyes, I am sure.

Just one last thing to say. Daisy waited for Kristin to come home from work before going on her longest journey. Sometimes love is so all encompassing, that it’s scary.

Sometimes

Sometimes I sit and wonder

Sometimes I sit and think

Sometimes I sit in wonder

Sometimes I hardly blink

Sometimes I sit and worry

Sometimes I sit and smile

Sometimes I want to hurry

Sometimes I wait awhile

Sometimes I watch the weather

Sometimes I watch the skies

Sometimes I am very sleepy

Sometimes I close my eyes

Sometimes I wonder what to do

Sometimes I let it ride

Sometimes I have sad ears

Sometimes I have ears of pride

Sometimes I travel to some place

Sometimes I stay at home

Sometimes I want to see all there is

Sometimes I chew my bone

Sometimes I sleep upon my bed

Sometimes I run around

Sometimes I want to lie and think

Sometimes I bark out loud

Sometimes I think my life is good

Sometimes I think its fun

Sometimes I think of other furs

Who haven’t got someone

Stay safe everyone

Catch me if you can

Recently there was a dog that was lost quite close to my house and I managed to drag my human dad around the local countryside to see if we could help find the lost dog. Fortunately the dog returned after some days exploring and has been reunited with his owners. Dad & I had some nice walks, whilst hopefully trying to help find a fellow dog in distress. However it got me thinking of one of my earliest escapades when I arrived here. This was a fun April day in 2014.

One day soon after I arrived, it was lovely and sunny. The humans decided that we would try to do some different things and I was promised a walk in the park with my dad. This was great. When we got to the park there were so many people, numerous other dogs, and trees as far as my eyes could see. I didn’t know which way to look first. I was really excited to see and smell everything I could. I wanted to go and run about and play with the other dogs. Sadly dad decided that I was to stay on the lead and harness. This was extremely boring and I kept on pulling to try and find a way of doing my own dexplorations. Someone stopped dad to ask about me and I thought it would be fun to wrap the lead around his legs. I was really bored. When dad had finished speaking to the person he tried to untangle me from his legs and pulled on the lead. At this point I decided to back out of the loose harness. I could not believe that I was free. Dad looked at me and looked really scared but I just ran away as fast as I could towards the woods.

There were too many smells and sights that I needed to see. They were much more interesting than being restrained with a harness and lead. Dad initially chased after me but I was far too quick for him. After a short while he realised that chasing me was a game and that I would always win if it came to running around. Then he cheated. I heard him asking other people if they had seen me, and if not, could they look out for me. I still couldn’t believe I was free to roam around and explore places that I could only dream about. I kept on seeing dad so I knew people were looking for me. I managed to duck in and out of the woods to keep them all on their toes. Then I got the fright of my life when I saw mum advancing across the park towards me. This wasn’t fair as I knew that now they meant business and I would be surprised if I was recaptured before too long.I knew I had limited time to explore so off I went. The undergrowth held many smells and intrigue for me. I managed to chase a couple of Muntjack Deer which unfortunately gave away my location. I could feel the net closing around me. However there was still fun to be had. My senses were full, there were so many rabbits, squirrels, deer and birds in the woods. I was so focused on chasing them that I completely missed seeing the barbed wire fence until I had run through it. I yelped as it really hurt me. Unfortunately this gave away my position once more. It was only then that I realised I had blood on my face, ear and foot. Fortunately the blood on my face and foot was from my ear, due to my excellent ability to flap my ears. The blood was also dripping from my ear onto my paw. Whoops.

The adventure ended when I was nosing about in a copse and a very nice lady managed to grab my collar when I wasn’t concentrating. I paid her back by dripping blood all over her coat cuff. Whoops again. Mum and dad looked really relieved to see me again and I went straight back onto the collar and lead. However there were still squirrels to pester and I tried to bolt again. Dad wasn’t very happy when I started baying, pulling wildly and trying to chase the squirrel. By the time we got home I had managed to shake blood over both my parents and we looked like extras from a zombie film. However my escapade didn’t end there sadly. Mum and dad decided that I needed to go to the vet which didn’t sound very good. They were worried that I might have an infection from the barbed wire cut and said something about tetanus. Apparently if I had this tetanus, I may not be very well. When the vet lady checked me over, she found the cuts and said I should be ok, but for safety I would need an injection. Now, I’m not very good with  needles so I squealed and wriggled far too much for them to stab me with the needle. The vet lady decided that it would be easier for me to have painkiller pills. I have no ill effects, thankfully. In fact I think I may have got some extra food in my bowl the next day, just to make sure I was ok.

I was away for three hours whilst numerous people were searching for me. Apparently mum and dad were really upset and worried about where I was and that I wasn’t safe whilst I was cavorting around the countryside. I was having a great time whilst off lead but I realise now that I probably did scare them by running away. I do not want to think of how much worry the owners of the recently lost & found dog felt. He was gone for 9 days. His owners must have been unable to sleep at night.

Stay safe everyone.

From here to there. And back again.

Another bright and sunny, but chilly, morning dawned over Chesham and it was time for a walk. Having explored Pednor recently I thought it would be good to go for a brisk stroll around White Hill toward Ley Hill & Botley. It’s only a short walk from my house to the edge of the first field, albeit including a wake up call of a steep climb over a railway bridge then through some woods. The view is worth it though.

Chesham is down there – in the valley

The winter brassica’s are still in the ground so plenty of nitrogen is being replenished for the crops to come. Through the little gate, turn left, turn right and then through 2 more gates and I really am on top of the world. Well, I am on top of White Hill in Chesham, but you understand the sentiment.

White Hill toward Botley

Always keeping to the edge of the path (mainly because there are squirrels and rabbits in the taller grass and hedges) the view towards Ley Hill & Botley stretches away into the distance.

Down the path to Bottom Lane

A sharp left, down the hill and we join one on of the old byways which criss cross the area. Left along this old track between the fields and then right, through the gate and climbing to the top of the hill. I think this is my favourite field as the views are fairly panoramic. When the early morning sun is in the right place and the mist and dew are just lifting it gives the fields and surrounding woods a certain aura.

Across the fields to Chesham Bois

As we circumnavigate the field I can see back into Chesham Bois and along the valley toward Latimer.

Enjoying myself?

We took a small detour this morning and came out of the field to walk down hill via another byway. It always reminds me of Sleepy Hollow.

Sniffing out headless horsemen

Down to the lower part of the valley and back onto the aptly named Bottom Lane, thence through the first gate and swiftly uphill to Hill Farm. Suddenly I find myself looking back toward my house, across Waterside and the woods at Chesham Bois.

Hill Farm

It’s not far now as I need only to cross the road, wade through the river enjoying a drink of lovely cold chiltern water and then back onto the Moor. It may only be four and a half miles but the views are great and the scents are great. I am a lucky lad.

From here to there, and back again. I need to top up my vitamin D with some sun puddling.

And relax!!!

A Pednor Loop

I am fortunate to live close to some lovely countryside. To be able to explore the many places on a regular basis is a bonus for me. One of my favourite walks is a place called Pednor.

As a bit of history, Pednor is a small hamlet and comes from the Anglo Saxon for Paeda’s Slope. In 1541 during the dissolution of the monasteries the lands were surrendered to the 1st Earl of Bedford. It even has a medieval moat recognised by English Heritage at Little Pednor Farm. To me its a great walk in the countryside.

The road loops from Chesham via Pednor Bottom, up to Great Pednor, through Little Pednor and then back via Pednormead End. The views are great and I always enjoy my 10k walk around it.

If you want a walk, on the edge of the Chilterns and close to London, come and have a wander around Pednor. I think you will like it.

Over The Rainbow Bridge

Sometimes we have to approach a sad and serious subject. I am on Twitter as some people may know. I have a large number of friends on Twitter and despite not meeting 99% of them in the fur, we woof and discuss what has happened during the day which is usually fun stuff. There are some occasions when the talk turns to more sobering matters such as the illness and injuries that afflict us all at some point in our lives. I have gone through my phase of being pawly and injured. I am hopeful that I have finished with that particular chapter. There are friends who suffer injury now and then. We all try to rally round to help to support them when we can.

Then there is the subject that we all know will arise but none of us want to contemplate, the subject of us making the longest journey. It is known as Over The Rainbow Bridge, as this has a softer tone and feel to the inevitable end. This is the most difficult time for any dog owner, and we always try to treat it with respect and thoughtfulness.

There seem to have been too many friends who have gone bravely to take the longest journey recently and this is always a strange and difficult time. We all know that, usually, we furs don’t last as long as humans. This doesn’t, and shouldn’t, diminish our ability to wheedle our way into your hearts and then take a small piece of it with us when we make our final journey. We may not be here for your whole life but you are invariably here for our whole life. Furs inevitably rely on their humans for pretty much everything from beds to food to tickles and walks. We don’t ask for much when we are here with you and it might be this level of love and loyalty that allows us to take this piece of your heart with us when we go. It’s a strange feeling when you find out that a friend who you have woofed with is suddenly not there. The emptiness in your tummy is palpable and it doesn’t decrease for a considerable time.

I have heard it said that we know when it is “time” and I think this is a true story. A while ago one of my friends was at the vets for various ailments and a picture was posted of him. I looked at his eyes, he seemed sad and resigned to his body giving him notice that this was the time to be brave and make the final and longest journey of all. This is now being replicated by a friend who knows he will go to the Rainbow Bridge soon. However he will do it on his terms and when he, and his parents, want him to go. The bond of love between them remains unbroken and there will be an acknowledgement when the time is right for the lead and collar to be hung up for good.

That the humans we leave behind are sad and feel lonely is, I think, an indication of the esteem and love they hold for us beyond our years of living and companionship. Equally it is an indication of the love and loyalty we have given back. The overriding factor seems to me to be that we have, in the main, enjoyed our time here. This gives our humans that sense of comfort when we have gone. They have looked after us and allowed us to enjoy life, see new things, smell new scents and have fun. Maybe our departure for the Rainbow Bridge shows the humans what they will miss most about us. The sense of fun, loyalty and the bond between us. What I think, and hope, we leave behind is a sense of celebration of our lives and the fun that we had when we were here.

Its not my time yet and I hope that I will continue to be here for quite a while yet. However when I go to the Rainbow Bridge, for I shall go one day, I hope that I leave pals and peeps with a sense of contentment that they made my life worth living and that I was happy. For now though, there is still much life in me. 

Gracie and NEBHR

I think it is vital to understand what the people at rescue centres in different places around the world do and how they do it. We all know why they undertake rescues of course, because there are many furs in need of help through no fault of their own. So, I decided to ask my friends Gracie the Beagle and Roscoe the Basset Hound if I could woof with their mum who is the Adoption Co-ordinator for New England Basset Hound Rescue. This is the discussion we had. I think you will find it interesting and hopefully will give us all a better insight as to the difficulties and the triumphs encountered in rescuing furs.

Please can I ask you to tell us what you do within NEBHR and how NEBHR helps to rescue Bassets?

I am the adoption coordinator for New England Basset Hound Rescue. I also take care of the rescue’s Facebook page and make sure the web site is kept up to date. I started off nearly 3.5 years ago as the social media coordinator and then in October of 2018 we needed an adoptions person. I took up the post straight away. Our rescue covers the New England states, which are Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island and Connecticut. We are a non-profit and run solely on donations. We have no state funding, but donations to us are tax deductible in the U.S. Those of us involved in the rescue are all volunteers. We joke that the only one one who gets paid is Roscoe because he gets treats when he poses for pictures to use on the rescue’s Facebook page. Oh, and the reason we do it is because we are all crazy about basset hounds. We are the only basset rescue that is based in New England, although there are some other basset rescues in other parts of the country that will have dogs transported to adopters in New England. Okay, so now on to the process…

Bassets and Basset mixes come into our rescue for all sorts of reasons. Sometimes they’re found running loose as strays. Other times we get contacted by animal control officers who have held them but no one came to claim them. On some occasions they’ve been set loose to fend for themselves by bad breeders or by hunters who have decided they’re not worth their keep. Then there are times when owners turn them over due to changes in life situations like they’ve lost their job and their home, and they aren’t allowed to have pets where they’re moving to, or we’ve even had somebody turn their dogs over to us because he was about to go to jail. Next there are those who want to get a new puppy so they dump their older dog, those who get into relationships with someone who doesn’t like their dog so rather than dumping the boyfriend, they dump the dog, people having a baby and “won’t have time for the dog”… The excuses are endless, and rarely do we get the full truth in the story of why someone decides to turn their dog over to rescue or leave them at a shelter. There are also times of sadness when the owner dies unexpectedly and the family can’t take the dogs, so they turn to us for help. And finally there are those who get the cute basset puppies and a few months later turn them over because they found out that it’s a lot of work to raise a puppy. Any puppy is work, but we all know hound pups are extra special and thus require extra work in training, etc.

So once our intake person gets the information about the dog, our fostering volunteer goes to work right away to find a foster home to agree to take the dog into fosterers home. Depending on the distance between the dog and the foster home, one of the board members or one of our volunteers will go and pick the dog up from the original owner, animal control officer, shelter, whatever the case may be, and drive the dog to the foster. I’ve done surrenders, and it’s not fun and sometimes scary. The foster takes the dog into their home and take care of him or her as if they were members of their family. They take them to a vet soon after their arrival at the foster home so that we can make sure the dog is up to date on all of the required immunisations and make sure that if there are any health concerns, we can evaluate them and get started as soon as possible with any treatment needed. We see a lot of skin issues, malnourishment and obesity, a large number of eye problems (which bassets are prone to), arthritis (again which bassets are prone to), spays and neuters and sadly a lot of the dogs come into care testing positive for heartworm. This can be treated, but it is really uncomfortable and hard on the dog during treatment because they have to be kept in a very calm and quiet environment.

Besides getting the dogs healthy, fosters also work on training issues if possible, as they are best placed to evaluate the dogs’ personalities and behaviour. This helps me, as the adoptions person, to have a better idea of which potential adopters would be the best matches for the individual dogs. Our goal is to place dogs in what, we hope, will be their forever home. We do our best to place them where they are most likely to stay and not come back to us. A dog stays with the foster family until he or she is ready to go on to their forever family, which could be anywhere from 2 weeks to many months. It all depends on what the dog needs in order to get ready to move on to the forever home environment.

Thank you. It sounds like its quite a well oiled machine. What are the procedures that you go through to register, check the details and then help to decide where each dog will go firstly and thereafter forever.

I shall start in adoptions. When an application comes in, I check to make sure that all of the required information is included, and if they’ve left any of the absolutely necessary details out, I email the potential adopters and tell them I won’t process their application further until they provide the necessary information. After I’ve got all the details I need, I will make arrangements to have a phone interview with the applicant. During that phone call, I review the application and ask them questions about anything that concerns or confuses me about their answers on the application. I also like to have them tell me about their past dogs. This gives me a chance to hear in their voice how they really felt about those dogs. We will discuss breed traits, behaviour and health issues, as well as general hound behaviour. I need to make sure that they know what they’re getting into, and that they don’t adopt a basset hound just because they saw a cute picture somewhere. We also discuss points such as whether they have a fenced-in yard or not. For some rescues it’s a deal breaker if they don’t. That’s not the case for NEBHR. However what is a deal breaker will be the potential adopters having an invisible fence or an electric fence of any kind. I would never allow a dog to be adopted by a person who would use one of those or who would use an electric training collar. Never.

We will discuss how many hours a day a dog would be home alone. Some are fine being home alone however some have separation anxiety and suffer when they’re alone for longer than a couple hours at a time. We talk about children as some of the dogs that come into our care have resource guarding issues. A small child can come across to a dog as competition for food, treats, toys or attention, and as a result we can’t place those dogs in homes with small children because it would be setting the dog up for failure. We will cover the things a family is looking for in a dog. Sometimes they want a young energetic dog that can go on hikes and family adventures. Sometimes they want a dog that is more laid back, more of a couch potato. Once the interview is done, the next step is to call their vet’s office and check to make sure that they’re good pet parents and have kept all of their previous animals up to date on their immunizations and other care. I also have to contact their local animal control officer to make sure they do not have a record of animal-related complaints against them, including nuisance to neighbours or dogs roaming free. Lastly I have to find a volunteer who lives somewhere in the vicinity to go and do a home visit on our behalf.

A home visit volunteer visits the house where the dog will live and checks to make sure it’s a safe environment for a basset and make any suggestions. For example, stairs and long spined dogs do not go well together, especially if there is nothing that provides traction on the stairs. It’s really easy for a basset to fall down the stairs if they don’t have traction and this is pretty much a guaranteed back injury or even paralysis. If the house is too cluttered, again this is a difficulty as Bassets are mischievous and get into places they may not necessarily need to.

If the home visit is positive and all the other things have gone well, I can approve them to adopt. I send them a congratulations email and we start looking for a dog that will be a good match for their family. Once the match is made, the foster family and the adopter arrange a meeting, and the new adopter will take the dog home. Sometimes it’s too far to drive for one or the other, so we can call on our transport volunteers to help transport the dog from the foster to the new family. I check in with the new family after the dog has been with them overnight to make sure things are going okay. Sometimes I will be sent a photo of the Basset. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to get a text with a picture of a basset totally taking over a couch and knowing that I just made that happen. That is what makes it all worth it.

 Is the “no dog to anyone with an invisible fence” your decision, or the NEBHR or law (state or federal). I am wondering if it is a legal requirement. What percentage of dogs come back to you? Hopefully not large numbers. Do you get transfers from other Basset rescues coming to you, or you to them?

The decision on invisible or electric fence is something that more and more rescues are deciding to have as their policies, but it’s not a law. If it’s a law in any other states, I’m not aware. The problem with invisible or electric fences is that they are ineffective with hounds. As you know, a hound picks up a scent, and they go. Bassets are even better scent hounds than beagles, if you can believe that! They are second only to bloodhounds in scenting ability. They are ineffective at keeping a hound in an area. However if you think about it, surely if you are jolted with electricity on your way out, are you really going to want to return? We have had a few dogs arrive in our care that have been abused with the electric training collars, so these collars are very traumatic to them. We do not get a large percent of dogs that come back to us after we adopt them out. I’ve had 2 come back because in one case the children got too rambunctious and the dog didn’t like it. The parents got nervous the dog would bite. In another case a lady decided she couldn’t deal with training issues of an 8 month old puppy. Sadly sometimes the dogs come back to us after their adopters have passed away. We have a dog in our care currently for that reason. He was adopted in 2017, and the adopter passed away in 2018. We don’t really do many transfers back and forth with other basset rescues. Occasionally we get a call from an all-breed rescue that ends up with a basset and wants our help, and we get calls from animal shelters sometimes when they have bassets come in. We do take dogs from other areas of the country if they can be transported in to us. We are not licensed to transport them in, but we can receive them. 

May we turn to the fundraising aspect for the NEBHR. This is clearly a very important aspect so I would like to understand a little more about how the fundraising occurs.

Okay, Dex, we are always, ALWAYS in need of donations, so we try to come up with some small creative ideas throughout the year. We also need to put together our annual fundraising event, Bassetpalooza. This is a great occasion where people come from all over New England with their bassets and spend the day playing games with them, catching up with those of us who helped in their bassets’ rescue efforts, and raise money with raffle baskets. We have our rescue’s little store where we sell New England Basset Hound Rescue merchandise as well as other dog-themed items, and explore what vendors there have to offer. For instance last year, Dunkyn’s mum set up a booth selling her home made dog treats. In addition we do a calendar contest, in which Roscoe has been entered for the last 4 or 5 years. The 12 bassets that bring in the most money through votes get to be the main photos in the following year’s calendar. We do an event-themed t-shirt fundraiser each year and alongside the calendar. Wilbur the Basset’s mum & dad designed the t-shirts for Bassetpalooza 2017. People can come to the event wearing that year’s t-shirt if they like, or have it as a souvenir. We do other things through the year, such as smaller raffles through the Facebook page and a year-end video with a plea for donations. We always remind people that they are tax-deductible. Right now we’re working on a Valentine’s Day fundraiser, where we’ll have photos of the dogs in our care along with links to donate in order to show them some love on Valentine’s Day. We’ve had some of Gracie’s friends from Twitter make things for us to sell at events and in the store. For instance Schroeder’s mom Connie made plastic canvas signs, tissue boxes and luggage tags for us and LilyDoodle’s mom Erin sent us some awesome doggy bandanas that she made.

Nellie looking festive

 If you could change the law, what do you think you would change. For instance compulsory micro chipping?

I don’t know really what to say about laws… I mean obviously animal cruelty and neglect laws should be harsher in my opinion, and it would be nice if we had some kind of a registry of animal abuse and neglect perpetrators that we could use as a tool in vetting potential adopters. I just do what I do and try my best to find homes for these deserving dogs where they will get the love and the care they deserve. 

I will include a link to the donation page of the website:

http://newenglandbassethoundrescue.org/how-to-help/donate-money/ …

General link to the website’s home page is

http://newenglandbassethoundrescue.org/ 

And our Facebook page is New England Basset Hound Rescue