The uncle I will never meet

Occasionally I hear of people and I sit up and listen to every word. In this vein, there was someone born on 13th December 1963 who was bright, intelligent and funny. He was good at school, was a great son and brother along with a good friend to all. He looked out for his siblings and was always there to ride his bike, play games with his brothers and was forever seeking to listen and learn about new things. At school his teachers all said he did well in his lessons.

Then on Good Friday 12th April 1974 he went into hospital and doctors found out he wasn’t very well. There was an initial diagnosis of pneumonia. When they found out the real cause the doctors said he needed to have treatment which would be painful and might not work. This made his family and everyone else worried. They all wanted him to be better and able to do well at school and grow up to be a fine man. Sadly he spent a long time in hospital having the painful treatment and he couldn’t keep up his school work. He couldn’t have fun with his brothers and sisters, as well as his friends. He went back to school in September 1974 once the chemotherapy had been stopped and radiotherapy commenced. He couldn’t walk the mile and a half to and from school as he was so weak, but he was determined to live as full a life as possible. He had been on holiday to Cornwall with the family, in the summer.

Uncle David

On Sunday 8th December 1974 my nan & grandad were crying when my dad got out of bed. My uncle David died of lung cancer. Apparently it was genetic.

The funeral was on his 11th birthday on 13th December 1974. All the family were present. His entire school class was there. Everyone loved my uncle David and everyone misses him so much now. I know my dad and Minnie da Minx’s mum miss him every day, as do his other siblings. My nanny has a quiet time to herself every year. I will give her special leg leans when I next see her.

Listening to my dad, I miss my uncle David. He is the uncle I will never meet.

Uncle David

Chilterns Dog Rescue Society

As some of you may know I arrived in my furever home from Chilterns Dog Rescue Society (CDRS). Because I owe them a debt of gratitude for rescuing me in the first place from a pound in Wales, I thought it would be a good idea to send along one of my Paw Assistants to have a chat with them and find out what they do and why they do it, if it wasn’t obvious. I hope the following helps to dispel the myth, amongst many, of rescue dogs being problem dogs.

By way of introduction, CDRS are believed to be one of the single longest standing charities dedicated to helping dogs in the UK, having been formed in 1963 by a kind lady called Mrs Dolly Bromley. Mrs Bromley found a small dog tied up and abandoned in a town near where I live. After trying to find the owner she decided to take it to the police who said that if the owner wasn’t located, the dog would be put to sleep by the end of the week. This horrified her so she asked her friends if they could look after the dog, or if someone they knew could take the dog home. Fortunately the dog was rehomed, however this ignited a fire within Mrs Bromley to help other abandoned and stray dogs in the area. Her fortitude has allowed some 20,000 dogs from all over the UK and beyond to be rehomed and helped since 1963.

The Society currently looks after over 300 dogs a year, within their 40 licensed kennels. This number has increased when people are having a tough time and has been known to reach over 625. They moved into their new purpose built Rescue Centre in May 2017 so they are now able to help more dogs to find new homes, as well as keep dogs safe, warm and secure whilst the rehoming takes place. Having a purpose built centre allows them to put every aspect of rehoming and care under one roof.

Sometimes the breeds or types of dog that are surrendered or presented seem to follow trends, in that the dog “de rigeur” appear to have a shelf life until the next trend arrives. CDRS expect to be seeing some increase in the number of designer dogs in the future. Sadly it appears that Easter is the busiest time of the year for CDRS when it comes to dogs needing to be rehomed. This seems to be once the Christmas enthusiasm has become a memory and it’s clear that we need to be fed, watered, walked, cleaned up after and that we will grow bigger. We are a commitment after all. Having said that, there are a number of dogs needing rehoming for other reasons such as the owners moving home, moving job, not being allowed to have a dog in the home under a tenancy agreement or a change in social circumstances such as having a baby. Indeed most of the dogs that go through CDRS are because of a change in social circumstances, rather than a troubled dog who has caused damage or maybe hurt someone. The number of stray dogs that come to their attention can fluctuate.

For enquiries about rehoming dogs the current time of November through to Christmas is the busiest historically and the requests are handled so that the best interests of the dog is maintained at all times. Sometimes it is clear that a certain breed isn’t suitable for people. A Doberman in a small house with elderly people isn’t really the best proposition for anyone. Equally a beagle rehomed with people who are out of the house all day isn’t a good match. A careful matching process is always undertaken.

Ray

The average stay for a dog in the centre is around 4 weeks so not too long. Of course the length of stay can vary on the basis of the physical and mental condition of the dog, the breed, how much training or rehabilitation the dog needs and the availability of a suitable home. CDRS have a list of potential homes which they can easily scan through and find the best home for the dog. This is how I was rehomed so it clearly works. CDRS prefer to speak to and gauge the people who have requested the dog and help them decide if it is a good match. Often there can be discussion if a different breed or size of dog from the original request is recommended. They don’t rely on a large social media presence, unlike some of the other larger and more well known rescue and rehoming organisations who have such a large volume of dogs on their books that they need to give as much detail to as many people as possible. This gives CDRS the opportunity to meet the prospective pawrents and try to ensure the match is the best for the dog. CDRS feel that sometimes photos of every dog can give people the false impression and can lead to returns so they limit the number of photos on their website at any one time.

Toby

CDRS get dogs from all over the UK and sometimes receive some from Romania. They always ensure that any precautions with the dogs arriving from Romania are mirrored when they arrive in the UK. For instance any inoculations or medicines are repeated by vets here to make sure the dogs are in good order. Of course they ensure the dogs are all micro chipped. They have received other dogs from Yorkshire and Scotland amongst many locations. I came from a pound in South Wales for instance. They have also rehomed dogs to all parts of the UK and beyond, giving dogs a chance to enjoy a new lease of life. For a locally based organisation they have a wide reach.

Tonya

Whilst the dogs are in kennels at CDRS they are walked at least twice a day and allowed out into the enclosed exercise area to run around and enjoy themselves. Registered dog walkers also take some of the dogs out on lead walks in the woods adjacent to the Rescue Centre to familiarise them with day to day living. The high street or being at the garden centre can be a scary or interesting place for some dogs and day trips with the staff get them ready for their life at a new home. The outside area at the rescue centre will soon have a sensory garden and enrichment area, along with paths through the woods to allow the dogs to have a stroll about and feel calm and relaxed. Sometimes some of the dogs can be taken home to live for a few days or so with one of the nice people who work so hard at CDRS. This also gives the dogs some time to adjust to living in a home environment if they are unfamiliar with being outside of kennels.

Mocha

Dispelling the myth that rescue dogs are problem dogs is the aim for the kind and diligent people at CDRS. In fact they are smashing the myth.

You can have the chance to see what they do, as they are having their Christmas Market on 9th December. I’m going to be there too. Hope my pawrents remember to bring me home. Their website is http://www.chilternsdogrescue.org.uk – look them up. 

International Rescue

I have met Nut & Oggy once, some time ago and thought it would be a good idea to woof with their mum who is a serial rescuer who has taken on and cherished some of the most wonderful and vulnerable dogs. I have not yet met Bean or Goon so I wanted to find out some more about them, as well as Oscar who is the most recent arrival. I am honoured that I was allowed to do this interview.

I first asked if it had always been Beagles who would be the focus breed for saving.

Beagles from an early stage. There was once a debate over whether Beagles or Springers would be a good fit for my lifestyle. I heard about a 5 month old Beagle that needed rescuing from a puppy farm in South Wales. The debate over beagles/springers stopped there and then. I drove for 7 hours to collect a crazy bundle of love that later became known as Bean. She had a serious case of entropion which causes a portion of the eyelid to roll inwards and causes the eyelashes to scratch the eyeball. It had not been treated and had left her practically blind. This required immediate surgery but other than that she was healthy. Thankfully we saved her eyesight and I will never forget the pleasure of watching her re-learn the world through eyes that could see. Bean had her surgery 3 days after coming home with me. Her eyesight returned gradually over a month or so although there was an instant improvement. She could now see items in front of her and watching her be able to pick and play with a toy was heart warming. She was able to navigate stairs, albeit cautiously, and you could see the love in her eyes when she looked directly at you. She had the most beautiful eyes, like a chocolate coloured marble. She could drown you in love with those eyes!

I cannot ever imagine ‘buying’ an animal. Every animal I have had the pleasure of sharing my life with since being a small child has been a rescue. As soon as I had my own home I ‘inherited’ Goon from my father. Goon had been rescued after being shot. Goon and Bean were the ultimate team and paved the way for my passion of rescuing and rehabilitating animals in desperate need of love and time.

Goon arrived into my life first. He was a Red Setter/Border Collie cross and a handsome boy if there ever was one. He was the best friend a single young woman could ever have wished for. Sadly I lost Goon at the age of 13 to a ruptured spleen. He had been playing with Bean when he collapsed suddenly and despite doing everything we could we were unable to save him. It all happened so quickly but the devastation I felt is still raw to this day. I take comfort in the knowledge he was happy that day and gave no indication of being ill. I miss him dearly on a daily basis. I have a huge canvas of him in our family room at home so he can watch over us. He taught me how to love unconditionally and we shared so many happy memories together. I truly wish he could have met Boo, Oggy and Oscar. He would have adored them. When he was around 5 or 6 I rescued Twinkle Toes, my cat. They worshipped each other and I’d often ‘lose’ Twinks only to find her snuggled up so closely to Goon you couldn’t tell where the divide was.

Goon.

When Bean came along Goon took on ‘big brother’ duties. He protected and taught her in ways I couldn’t. He was 10 by then and it was a gamble bringing home a pup but it turned out he was more than ready for her. He was young again, playful and cheeky. Bean gave him back his younger years. 

Bean.

If I recall my mind was definitely made up by Bean in respect to the breed. I can’t ever imagine having another breed again. I think in terms of rescue I had always known I would open my home and heart to pups in need when the time was right. If I could I would be surrounded by them but unfortunately time doesn’t allow! 

My next question was; Goon showed you that rescues were for you, and Bean taught you to love a particular breed. Did you actively seek beagle rescue organisations to add to the beagle family?

Nut and Boo came from the local hunt. I found out about Boo by pure fluke whilst visiting Pets at Home with Bean in the days after Goon had passed away. A lady approached me and started chatting about Bean and beagles in general. I explained that Bean was on her own for the first time in her life and was showing signs of separation anxiety. I also commented that I was tentatively looking for another rescue. The lady explained to me that the local hunt may be a starting point. She explained that, when the hounds reached the end of their career, they would usually be put to sleep unless someone stepped forward. I went the same day and met Boo (originally named Taboo). She was 6 and had a fabulous spirit. There was no way I couldn’t take her. The prospect of her life ending just because she was no longer of any use to the hunt terrified me. I walked her with Bean and although Boo ignored her at first Bean was evidently elated. After some serious persuading (I was unknown to them I guess) of the Hunt Master, Boo came to live with us 2 weeks later. In the fortnight between meeting Boo and her coming home, Bean and I travelled to Scotland to Goons final resting place. We scattered his ashes in the surf of his favourite beach. We closed a chapter together, and were ready to start another. 

I still don’t know the name of the lady that approached me in Pets at Home but I owe her. She undoubtedly saved Boo’s life.. And later Nuts life too.

Boo (Taboo)
Nut.

We moved on to speak about Oggy, who I knew had come from a rescue organisation called Unite to Care (UtC). He had been experimented on in Hungary. When I met him soon after he arrived in his forever home, he was very scared of many things and was being handled with great care and thoughtfulness. Oscar is the most recent member of the family.

Oggy came about as I had previously put my name down as a foster for Beagle Freedom Project and Unite to Care. I will never forget the day I got the call from UtC about Oggy. I vividly remember where I was and who I was with. There was a sense of “is it too soon?” from the caller as I had lost Bean only a matter of months previously. My response? “No, it’s not too soon, these babies are coming regardless and one is coming to me”.

Early in 2012 I stumbled across a video of a BFP release (The Spanish 40) on Facebook. The video started me on a journey of discovery and understanding in respect to animal testing and the welfare of animals in laboratories. I remember watching the video over and over with tears pouring down my face. The more I learnt the more I was horrified that animal testing was still happening. I watched as many videos as I could find and read as much as I could. Often subjecting myself to heartbreak and desperation. Someone asked me why I did it my answer was simple “watching what these animals go though is nothing by comparison to the pain they physically and emotionally feel”. I changed my life choices and began living cruelty free. It was an easy transition and one I am proud of.

During that summer I went to an awareness event in Manchester where I met people from Unite to Care and started to learn more about campaigns in the UK to not just put a stop to testing but to release animals once testing had been completed. Later the same year I attended my first protest in Hull and met various people that have become key people in not just my life but within Unite to Care. My support of them has been unwavering since.

Since Oggy came home I can’t watch the videos of animals tests any more. There is something much deeper and personal now and the fury I feel is frightening. But I will never stop campaigning, I will never stop fighting. I will always be a voice for animals the world over.

Oggy.

Oscar is the first I’ve seen on social media and made an enquiry about. He was a street dog in Cyprus who had ended up in the pound. Cyprus Beagles pulled him from the pound, had his bloods taken and passport arranged then flew him across. I spotted his plight when he had been in the UK for a couple of days.

Oscar

The rest is history.

Griff Rehomed

I recently had the pleasure of spending a day with Griff, his brother Boot and their pawrents. Griff is a Beagle who had just been re-homed so I decided to try and find out some more about him.

Griff was living with an older gentleman who had recently suffered some heartbreak. As such he couldn’t look after Griff as fully as he would want to. The gentleman made the brave decision to have Griff adopted. Griff’s details were shared. Thankfully Griff had been noticed by Charley Beagle & Boots pawrents and he was soon looking forward to the prospect of living his life in the Shropshire Hills with Boot, the Cocker Spaniel whose brother Charley had sadly passed over the Rainbow Bridge in early September 2018.

Charleys pawrents weren’t really looking yet for another dog to share their home with, but they had promised themselves that if another Beagle or Cocker needed another home through no fault of its own, they would consider this. They had thought of getting an older dog as there appear to be a larger number of older dogs needing rehoming or rescue, compared to pups. When they heard about Griff, who is 3.5 however, it felt as though fate was intervening and that Charley had a paw in guiding them to go and see Griff.  Before setting off to see him, there were conversations with the older gentleman to ask many questions about Griff and to try and make sure that the re-homing would be the right thing to do by everyone. When they arrived Griff came bouncing out of his first house to greet his prospective new pawrents. It was decided that he would be taken to his new home, on a trial basis at first. Everyone wanted to make sure that he would settle in a new environment, with a new family and a new fur brother who would also have to accept Griff into his home and life. He slept most of the way to his new home and trotted happily around the garden when he arrived, sniffing all the new and wonderful scents that cascaded through his nose. Thankfully Boot seemed to have taken a shine to Griff very quickly and the re-homing was agreed and concluded quickly. Griff’s first owner is kept informed of his progress so he can know that Griff is safe and well looked after.

On the way to his new home Griff had a quick check up at the vets who noted his weight at 31.5 kilos which is quite a lot for a Beagle. Ideally Griff would need to lose around 13 kilos so a stricter regime of exercise and diet seems to be on the cards. Having had little exercise for the previous 12 months, Griff was taken for short walks, half an hour at a time and twice a day. His paws soon hardened and the walks are getting longer as the weeks go by. When he first arrived he was fascinated by the sheep and cows in the nearby fields but didn’t feel spooked or worried by them. He still enjoys sitting and watching them, even by moonlight from his bed next to a big picture window.  Once he got over the initial concern of changing his home and indeed his entire life, Griff realised that this was a good place to live. He is very respectful around Boot, who is 12.5 years old. Griff instinctively seems to know that Boot, being a Cocker Spaniel with a working background, doesn’t really want to play all the time but Boot does enjoy the company of another dog. It is hoped that Griff will have his walks increased from now on to take in more of the beautiful countryside and even a visit to the pub that Charley used to frequent and enjoy. 

Griff knows he won’t be a replacement for Charley, as no fur could ever replace the one off, inimitable, funny and happy go lucky Charley. However there is a determination on Griffs part to try and help heal the Charley sized hole in his new pawrents life. He is happy to have the chance of long walks, seeing the countryside and smelling all the new scents that find their way into his memory banks via his nose. He loves his new home and is already shedding some of the excess weight. Griff is determined to make his own life better, be more active and explore as much as he can in his new home. If he can do all this, and help to heal the hearts of his new pawrents even a little, then he knows it will all be worth it.

Charley’s Bench

It was the dead of night and my parents were out of bed and making ready for the day ahead. After weeks of chicanery and subterfuge with various friends, we were at last on our way to rural Shropshire to make Charley’s parents cry, albeit in the nicest possible fashion. They were blissfully unaware of our impending arrival and this was the way it was supposed to be.

We met up with Raffa Beagle and her mum, and thence on to Charleys house. “Oh my, what are you doing here?” asks Charleys mum, whilst his dad expressed similar surprise from an upstairs window.  “Who, us? Oh we were just passing and thought we would drop by to see you”. Griff the Beagle and Boot the Cocker bounded out to greet us and the humans settled down for coffee, buns and chatter, all the time waiting for the unexpected delivery.

After an hour or so, panic sets in as there is no sign of the delivery truck bringing the unknown gift for Charley’s M&D. Off we set on our walk with Raffa and her mum having to turn back as it is feeding time. After phone calls it appears that the delivery will arrive, however not until later in the day. “Do you not realise we have people from London and Liverpool who have taken time off and driven for hundreds of miles to be here?”. The rest of us kept going around the fields and arrive at Charley’s final resting place. It is a place of contemplation and maybe some sorrow but also of great beauty, looking out over the fields where he would run, roam, laze and watch the world go by, all in the shadow of the Shropshire Hills.

“Who’s that at the door?” – action stations and all hands to the pump time. Charley must have known something was up for, as soon as the unknown package was removed from the truck, a wonderful double rainbow appeared over the house with one end landing close by Charley’s last resting place. pGeg687ySciXJBgcVb35Dw To see the look upon the faces of Charley’s M&D when the bench was removed from the crate, of joy mixed with reminiscence of some long held thoughts, was strangely comforting to us all. The culmination of a plan to honour Charley had borne fruit, and the fruit was mellow and welcomed. Griff explored the bench quizzically. Boot strolled in his nonchalant fashion toward the bench. Charley’s M&D sat upon the bench and looked at the rainbow stretching over the house and toward the fields and hills. 

  A suitable tribute, a timely reminder and a place of contemplation. All considered, it was a good day. I could return home content. I am not sure that we made Charley’s M&D cry, but I hope we made their hearts feel full of the love of their friends.

Dunstable Downs & Ashridge

What a week of walks and shenanigans. Sunday started with a great walk around the local lanes and fields. I love all the smells and sniffs, as well as all the rabbit warrens I can stick my nose into.

Having returned home and eaten my breakfast, it was straightaway into the car and we drove north through winding roads and lanes, then across the Grand Union Canal to a place called Dunstable Downs. There were many people there, enjoying the walks and sights on a warm late summer day with the wind blowing breezily through my ears. I was getting excited about visiting the woods and hill tops I could see. However we seemed to be heading toward the Visitor Centre. I had a lovely surprise when I saw Raffa Beagle and her mum waiting for us. Raffa lives in Liverpool and was visiting locally for the day. We walked and woofed with each other whilst scenting the longer grass and admiring the views. Of course we were both asked if we would like strokes and belly rubs which were not turned down. We found a great hill to sit atop and watch the gliders take off and land. It was great fun all day, however we were sad when Raffa had to leave to go home again.

 

 

Monday through to Thursday I was able to drag one or the other pawrent around the fields or lanes locally. I even got to meet some Alpaca who live on a farm near me. I don’t go near them as one of them was attacked last year by an off lead dog.

 

 

Today was another adventure, this time to Ashridge Estate and Northchurch Common. We had driven past on our way to Dunstable on Sunday but this time we stopped and I got to experience all the sounds, sights and scents of the woods and long grass. We dexplored for about 2 hours and it was great fun to see somewhere new and get all the lovely scents in my nose. I saw squirrels leaping from tree to tree and would have enjoyed chasing them, had I not been shackled to my humum. It was fun wandering about not really knowing where you would end up. Its not big enough to get completely lost in the woods, but the scents and sights would keep me occupied for some considerable time.

 

 

It was quite windy which was welcomed as the scents were blown quickly into my nose and my ears flapped happily in the breeze.

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We left after a couple of hours and I expected to return home. However we continued our adventure to the Tring Brewery for some “supplies”. I got to meet Ronnie the Lurcher cross whilst my humans made purchases. There was only one thing left to do when I got home. I had to run around my garden arooing at squirrels and making a noisy nuisance of myself.

My day is done and I can sleep soundly.

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Best dexplorations

Some days you wake up and the sun is shining, the birds are singing and those pesky squirrels are frolicking in your garden. You hear the dawn chorus and think to yourself “Hmm, life is good today”. Breakfast is completed, the harness goes on and I am out for sniffing and snuffling around the lanes nearby to my house. Second part of breakfast duly proferred and then its onto my bed for some morning snoozes. Aah, this is the life.

But what is this, my harness is going back on, my mum looks a little apprehensive and dad looks like he’s taking me out. Again! Up the road we go. Quickly, quickly no time to lose. It appears I have to be somewhere on time. At the station I am ushered through the barriers and the overground train arrives. On we get and my settle mat makes an appearance. This is serious, dad means business. For forty odd minutes I watch the world go by, including Harrow and Wembley with its huge arch cutting the sky. Then suddenly it all goes dark. What is this witchcraft I wonder, nighttime in the daytime. We arrived at Marylebone Station in London. OMD I am actually in London, the capital, the big smoke. Cough cough splutter this air tastes horrible.

We stroll some back roads until we arrive somewhere called Regents Park.

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I have heard of this place, and it doesn’t disappoint me. I saw 4 squirrels , yes 4 of the little blighters and I of course had to introduce myself. Having crossed the Euston Road we then entered the bowels of London at Great Portland Street and took a trip on the smelly choob to somewhere called Liverpool Street. I surfaced onto Bishopsgate to a tumult of people and a single fur. Indeed, there were 2 of us amongst the throngs of people. Stay close, dad said. Stay close. Dont lick that, its disgusting he said. After I allowed dad to use my ibone to make a call, we met with one of the people he worked with in London and I got my first ride in a lift. Upon arriving in the office, I was greeted by many more people in the office, all wanting to give me tickles and cuddles and generally make a fuss of me. I cannot woof that I can blame them. We stayed for a while and they chatted whilst I slept and mooched about getting more tickles, cuddles and a considerable amount of love. I could get used to this. After a while I got a bit bored and needed to dexplore more of the area and reminded dad that it was time to go.

We strolled (I pulled) up Cornhill to Bank to see the Bank of England and the Royal Exchange. Thence down Walbrook and across Cannon Street, along the river to Southwark Bridge and across the mighty river Thames.

We strolled past Shakespeare’s Globe and back over the wobbly bridge over the river Thames to St Pauls, gleaming tall and majestic in the near distance. Around St Pauls, into Paternoster Square and up to Postman’s Park for some quiet reflection and thanks to the people who selflessly gave their lives to save others.

We arrived at Barbican station and caught the choob to Baker Street and then strolled (quickly) to Marylebone Station for our homeward journey.

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I was out on my paws when I got back onto the overground train, I curled up on my settle mat and dreamed of my day dexploring some brilliant and wicked places in London.

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I met lovely people, saw some brilliant places, walked through millennia of history and even managed to cross a wobbly bridge. And to top it all, dad just told mum I was perfectly behaved.

A top day of dexplorations and I have proud ears. Now I am off to sleep and dream. I really am the luckiest Beagle Harrier I know.