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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The rest is history.