The nagging doubt

As a Beagle Harrier rescued at at early age, I missed out on a large chunk of my formative years both socially and in puppy training.  This proved to be quite disruptive when I first arrived in my forever home. No one really knew what to expect of each other, so it was almost like a stand off. I knew it was warm, I knew it wasn’t draughty and I knew that I got walks, food and some play time. Oh and my beds, I knew all about those. But there was this nagging doubt; was this permanent or was I just in another temporary home whilst these 2 gave up on me after a few months or so.

IMG_0169

After the initial efforts at Dog Training School it was clear that it wasn’t for us. I was confused, I was skittish, I was directionless I suppose. I needed a purpose, some regimentation. I did not need to be dominated, shouted at and told off which was the routine at Training School.

IMG_4495

The walks in the early days were very helpful in getting some energy out of my paws and allowing me to rest a while when we returned home. However I was still anxious to know what was going on and where. Every time a door was opened or someone left a room, I wanted to know where they were going and why it didnt involve me. Settling was clearly a problem. Play time was great but when it finished, I wanted more and didn’t understand that it was down time. Toys were shredded in frustration quite regularly. While this may have been funny to see the dismembered soft toy stuffing strewn like a crime scene across the rug, it probably hid an underlying feeling of anxiety that I had to make the best of this house, whilst it lasted. I was trying to find my way through life, I had been in a home, as well as the rescue centre twice, and I didn’t want this one to be just be another home on an ever growing list.

IMG_0879

I could see these two people wanted to succeed in getting me to settle down and they were learning at the same time as myself. They clearly wanted to work with me, and when the training came along I took to it well. They were very canny however, as the treat based training didn’t go over board. There was significant use of praise to show me what was good, bad or indifferent. My mind wasn’t really occupied at first. Walks, tearing toys and sleeping remained the primary objects in the early stages. However when the training was increased and became more varied, it gave me something to actually think about. And to do something right, getting praise for it, was good as I could see the happiness for the humans too. I could feel my life changing. I was occupied with all sorts of activities and I was settling. When people left the room, now and again I stayed where I was. Sometimes I would get up and follow, but mostly I would stay where I was. The over riding fear of being moved on again was going, almost imperceptibly as I relaxed into my forever home.

IMG_2089

I knew I wasn’t going anywhere without these two. Doubts? What doubts?

Adopt dont shop

When I see the dogs & cats all waiting for a new home, it makes me wonder sometimes if people really do care about us.

IMG_1494

We watch tv programs and see articles on the internet and in the printed news about cruelty, starvation and abandonment amongst other fearful acts. Dogs being abused, beaten, tested upon, left for dead having been shot, garrotted or had their muzzles taped closed with duct tape. There are stories of cats being beaten and abused, also being tested on and deliberately tortured. All truly horrible things to see and hear.

Then you see designer dogs and cats being promoted by the popular press as being the “next accessory”, the “must have” in your house.  Dogs & cats being bred for their looks or size to make someone happy or so they can show off to their friends. What happens when they aren’t in fashion any more?

There are thousands of dogs and cats out there, all waiting for a home, all wanting a stroke of the neck, a tickle on the tummy, a walk, some food and a bed. We don’t ask for much, but pay back your love and kindness in spades. I’m lucky. Very, very lucky. I have found my forever home. I’m safe warm and very much loved.

You could make this much of a difference to a stray or abandoned animal. From this…

IMG_0062

To this…

IMG_1833

Rescue, stray & abandoned animals aren’t vicious and scary in the main. We are missing love, affection and the kindly human interaction of friendship. We have the paw of friendship, waiting for someone to take it.

A dog may not be around for all your life, but you will be around for the dogs life. Imagine the pride you could have from helping a stray or abandoned animal get back to feeling some love.

Thank you.

Dexter

Sleep

One of the most important things for a Beagle Harrier is sleep. It lets me recover from my walks and supervising in my grounds.

IMG_0471

When I am sleeping it allows me to dream and wonder what my life might have been like if I hadn’t had the fortune to chose my human M&D.

IMG_1005

I know I wouldn’t be as comfortable and looked after as much as I am here. I have six beds so I have enough places to sleep and think about how lucky I am.

IMG_1141

Sleep is very important, I need plenty of it. And I intend to get as much sleep as possible. I have many shenanigans to do, So I’m off to bed.

IMG_1491

My Garden

When I arrived in my new home, I had no idea that there was a wonderland of a garden attached to it. For the first few months I was shackled to one of my humans so couldn’t really enjoy it as much as I would have hoped. The number of trees made me suspicious that there were loads of little squirrels around. They would need chasing at some point.

I was allowed to roam fairly free after a couple of months, albeit on a long lead so I could at least chase a ball. I chased pigeons but they were pesky and kept on flying away. I think the squirrels were watching me and stayed out of my way. I could hear them, and sometimes see them, but they didn’t stray into my garden.IMG_0129

After a while I had calmed down enough to allow my humans to let me off the lead and to be trusted. It happened one day when I could hear them talking. I walked into the middle of the grass and sat down, the lead was unclipped from my harness and I just stood up and wandered off. I think this shocked all concerned. One thing I learned very quickly was that I could survey all the garden if I sat on the patio table.

IMG_1015

One day I wasn’t allowed in the garden as usual. I wanted to go and explore and play but I was being kept indoors. When I looked out again, there were many people in the garden and they were taking away 2 of my trees. Apparently the trees had a nasty disease which was eating them from the inside. They would have fallen over if they weren’t taken away.File 06-08-2016, 21 45 42

I have found many things in my garden, many of them are somewhat grisly and gruesome. One day, I was nosing about under one of the Yew tree and I was surprised to find a squirrel, but it wasn’t moving. Normally they like to run away from me but when I picked it up gently in my teeth, I saw it was headless so very dead. Another time there were two legs sticking out of the grass so I think the rest of the pigeon had been eaten. My human mum then found a ball of feathers and blood, so another pigeon had succumbed to the red kites who live in the area.

Now the only wildlife that I see in my garden is a tiger. Sadly I cuddled my tiger with my teeth and he doesn’t look like this any more.

File 06-08-2016, 22 10 52

I love having freedom to run and play, I’m very lucky. Its safe for me. But I’m still waiting for the squirrels to dare to venture into my garden.

 

Different dog

Apparently I am a different dog? I’m not sure what they mean, as I look the same as the day I turned up, albeit slightly greyer around the whiskers. That’s called being distinguished I have heard it said.

When I arrived in late December 2013 I was a frightened, confused and bemused Beagle Harrier. Having been rehomed twice I wasn’t really certain if this latest house was to be my forever home. The humans looked quite nice, the house was more than adequate and the garden was like some magical playground which I wanted to explore immediately. However I had seen this before and for one reason or another, it hadn’t worked out. I was confused, I wanted to feel settled, to feel part of a family I suppose, but I didn’t have the mental stimulus or ability to know exactly what that entailed.

This was me, a couple of days after I arrived. The green fluff is all that remained of a toy I had “cuddled” with my teeth.

IMG_0062

I had no stability or regimentation to my life. I was looked after very well by my friends at Chilterns Dog Rescue Society and I had some basic training and command structure. But there was no routine to my day. I woke up, strolled about my kennel, ate my breakfast and then had a whizz around the fenced in play area. I strolled back to my kennel and lazed about in there until it was time for snoozing again. There were plenty of other dogs to play with but I was missing something. I was feeling lonely, I didn’t feel part of a pack, I didn’t have humans to look after. When these humans arrived to see me for the first time, they were told I was beginning to lose my “aroooo” as I was becoming quieter and somewhat more withdrawn. It was a fortnight after we first met, that they returned to pick me up and take me to, what I desperately hoped, was to be my forever home.

It was a struggle for quite some time for us all. We didn’t understand what we wanted of each other, and I could see that they were getting frustrated at the communication between us. I was taken on walks, went to the park, went to the woods, through some fields, even walked through the town centre. Pigeons are great to chase! I saw new places, smelt new scents and met different people and dogs. But there was still this nagging doubt in my mind, was this my home. Without realising it however days turned into weeks, then into months and on to two and a half years currently. Gradually I was getting a routine, I was walked around a certain time, I had breakfast at approximately the same time, I had to find my treats around the house around the same time each day. I was allowed to snooze, I could wander about the garden and sniff the scents whether it was rain, sunshine or snow. The walks  changed areas slightly as we tended to go to the woods or fields where I could let off some steam and be satisfied, both in mind and body. I was enjoying this much more as the days, weeks and months passed by. I was being trusted in the garden, not to run away, not to try and jump over the fence and not to dig holes. I managed two out of three, the hole digging remains particularly appealing. I was finally getting my routine, I knew what was coming. Gradual, subtle changes were taking place, so subtle that sometimes it took other people to point out what we didn’t realise. I am a happy dog, I am content and I have routine. I’ve got what I have been missing for a large part of my life.

This photograph was taken on Sunday 17th July 2016. Even I can see a change.

File 21-07-2016, 21 13 11

I’m a different dog, I’m happy and content. I’ve got proud ears.

Ouch, my paw

One day in late summer 2015 I was out on one of my usual walks with M, pulling her around the fields and woods local to my house. When we got back, I had an itchy paw and decided the best thing to do would be to nibble and chew. An itch turned into a rash and then I started to limp as it was very painful.

IMG_1452

My humans decided that I should go and see the vet so they could check out my paw and see what was wrong. The vet lady couldn’t be sure but was worried that I had a grass seed in there. Grass seeds are quite dangerous so they decided to put me on some pills called antibiotics to help my pain and limp paw. Sadly I also got punished with the Cone of Shame. IMG_1454

Now this may look like a problem that needs to be resolved.  But the Cone of Shame had advantages as my human helpers had to get out of my way when I charged around the house. It also allowed the smells in the garden to be channelled into my nose.

When I returned to the vet, they still couldn’t be sure and said I needed an operation so they could be certain that anything in my paw didn’t stay in there. One day I went out for a walk early and then something strange happened. I asked for my breakfast as I usually do, but nothing was provided. Not a sausage, not a smidgen of anything remotely looking like food. Then we went to the vets and the nurses looked after me so well, that I started to feel quite sleepy. When I woke up, I felt very strange and was wearing a lovely warm blanket with paws on it. Best of all I had a bandage with bones on it. Sadly they were bones I couldn’t chew.

IMG_1471

I was allowed home at the end of the day, they couldn’t find anything in my paw but I was fixed. I had to keep my paw and bandage completely clean so that the stitches didn’t get infected. Anyway I didn’t want to go back until I had to have the stitches removed. It got even more embarrassing as I had to have a plastic bag on my paw, so I couldn’t chase squirrels around my garden. Within 2 weeks I was back in the vets to have my stitches  out and they were very pleased to see that the wound was clean. I managed to blot my copy book as I chewed 2 of the stitches. Another week with a plastic bag on my paw and I was then free to run amok, as I had always done.

I must try to remember not to get paw infections. I like seeing the vet lady, as I always get treats, but I’m not so sure about the bandages, injections and operations.

Making up for lost time

No one really knows where I came from originally. The one thing, maybe the most important, is I know where I’m going to remain. I didn’t have a settled early life, I probably missed out on a good part of the growing up that puppies usually enjoy in a stable environment.

It was a struggle when I first arrived, I was uncertain what was required of me, and my new assistants were also struggling to get to grips with this new part of their life. Having been in a rescue centre, and a good one at that, I hadn’t really known what it was like to try and get on the sofa, to have to ask politely when I needed to go out or even to have one, two or more walks a day outside in the big world. I was learning quite slowly, and I was very lucky that I could see there was frustration but it was fairly low level and I was being given time to learn and understand.

I escaped twice within a short time after I arrived. I now realise this was incredibly stupid, but I wanted to see the big wide world and didn’t realise that I was on a lead in the park for my own safety. My Beagle Harrier traits take over completely when I am out. All dogs love to be let off the lead. Some of them run around in a big circle, others will race about barking and playing. However it appears I am slightly different, in that once I am off lead, I  run away. In a straight line. Very quickly. I don’t look back. The first time I ran away, I was off for 3 hours and was only recaptured after I had run into some barbed wire and cut my ear open. I was tired too. Sorry about the photo, Hudad took it..

IMG_0433 2

I was carted off to the vets quite quickly after the first escape, but given a fairly clean bill of health. I got a bit of a telling off too. It didn’t seem to make much impression on me however, as I escaped again soon after and in the same park. Fortunately I was recaptured fairly quickly by what appeared to be the only person in the park who thought it strange there was a dog running around loose, with the collar and lead attached. Trust my luck to be sniffing a dead squirrel.

It was back to training in the garden, long leads and a super tight harness to make sure I couldn’t escape again when outside on my daily walks. The continued theme was that I wasn’t settled, I didn’t know if this was forever. These two were, and very much remain, my saviours. But I wasn’t sure. Until now I didn’t have the continued affection, there was no routine to stick to. I had been here six months and I felt sometimes that there was still a struggle to feel that this was permanent. The walks were also a struggle. I was, and remain, quite an obstinate lad, and I was being asked to walk to heel for extended periods. As we live near a busy road, I could handle the first section of the walk. However when I got to the field and my hunting instincts took over, it was nigh on impossible for me to walk to heel. Indeed they were lucky if I sat down for more than three seconds.

IMG_0320

One day I was out with my Humum and we met a man coming towards us. He said I was a handsome dog, and of course, I had proud ears. He said that as a scent hound I was always going to sniff around in the hedges and long grass, it was my nature. If I could be walked to heel for the early part, and then left to sniff and explore for the remainder, this might cure some of the incessant pulling I was managing on the harness and lead. We tried this and it started to work a little better. I still pulled a great deal, but I was happier as I could exercise my brain, senses and body so I was more content.

I was also becoming more at ease in the house and garden. I was getting used to the routine of daily life and, to be honest, I was being looked after really well so I couldn’t complain, too much. It was dawning on me that I was here to stay, I was relaxing and feeling more at ease with my surroundings. Even the garden was becoming a calmer place for me. At  first, I couldn’t be let off the lead, so the many jobs around the garden were not done and I could sense the frustration. Gradually I got a little more comfortable with my surroundings and realised that, when I was in the garden, the squirrels weren’t and I didn’t need to chase them away. Then one day it all changed. I was in the garden on a lovely summers day. I sat down on the grass and the lead was unclipped from the harness. I was free, kind of. And I just sat there. They expected me to run around the garden and probably do something silly – again. And I just stood up and trotted off to explore. I soon found that the patio table was a good vantage point to survey my garden. It also meant I could keep an eye on my humans, and make sure those pesky squirrels stayed away.

IMG_1015

I was becoming more content, I was being trusted and it felt good. I began to realise that if I wandered about in the garden, then I was allowed to roam at will, sniff the flowers, arooo at pigeons and generally feel more at home. It had taken time, but I was beginning to feel like this was it, my new forever home. I was making up for lost time. It felt good.