I wanted to return to one of the recurring themes which has allowed me to write this blog and, hopefully, keep people interested in reading it.
As some of you may know I, along with many others, had a beagle friend called Fred who lived in Germany with his parents. Sadly Fred made his longest journey on 22nd January 2021 and there were a large number of people who were extremely upset, not least his parents. Within a few months of Freds farewell, his parents rescued a lost soul called Ignaz (subsequently called Sunny due to his happy demeanour). This is his story of safety, love and security. Thus far.
I spoke with Fred’s mum, auntie Cathy and I am very grateful for her help in writing this blog.
Ok, I am going to start with the sad part (sorry) about Fred. Please don’t cry too much. When Fred passed over the Rainbow Bridge, you were both obviously very sad. However did his passing ignite a desire within you to get a rescue or did you harbour a desire to get a rescue anyway?
When Fred died we were so broken, the grief was unbelievable! He had been my side kick for 12 years and I had no idea what to do without him. I had always wanted to rescue a lab beagle and we said that the next Beagle would be a rescue or a lab Beagle. But we didn’t think we would do it so soon. We just started researching who could help us and then we found http://laborbeaglehilfe.de and Sunny (previous name Ignaz) was on there with his brother and we enquired, never thinking we would be able to get him. We thought it would take months and months to find a rescue but as soon as we saw Sunny, and found out he was still available, we were smitten and really wanted to give him a forever home! It didn’t end my grief but it certainly brought the light back into our lives. Definitely. I wish Fred was here as well – he’d be teaching him all the bad habits. I had Fred from he was 12 weeks old but I always knew that I wanted a rescue at some point.
What processes did you have to go through in order to get Sunny? Did you meet him (Covid etc) before he arrived and how much did the rescue tell you of his past
The rescue process? We were looking for organizations that could help us and Klaus found laborbeaglehilfe and that was it. We saw Sunny and knew we had to try to give him his forever home. They are small but I think quite well known. We had a couple of very long phone calls with the rescue lady from http://laborbeaglehilfe.de where she asked about our experience with Beagles, where we lived, how often would he be alone, did we have a garden (we don’t!) and many other questions. We were then waiting for her decision and really hoping we could get him. We checked the website and saw that he had been moved to ‘reserved’ but we hadn’t heard anything. So then we were panicking that he was going to someone else! But thankfully not as we received confirmation that we had been successful.
We didn’t get to meet him until the day he arrived. I think it was mostly COVID that meant we couldn’t meet him first but also think they like to take them straight from the lab to their new home if possible. The ladies from the rescue came in first and checked out our house (and us too!). Then when they were happy they went outside and brought him in with another Beagle (Robin) to help him not be so nervous. We know he is from a lab that did medical testing but the rescue don’t tell you anything else – no testing details or location. They just said that this lab was one of the better ones in terms of the care they take with the dogs (apart from the horrendous testing obviously!). It’s scary to hear how much animal testing still goes on in Germany!
Were you expecting what walked through the door? Did you have expectations or pre-conceptions of Sunny and his behaviour?
When he arrived I sat on the floor and he came straight over to me which was great because we had no idea how he would be with people. He’s been very snuggly since day 1. The rescue people had us prepared for all the worst case scenarios. For instance that he wouldn’t come near us, that he wouldn’t be house trained, that he would jump on the table. However he was the opposite! Teaching him how to use stairs was the main thing but after 3 days he had it sussed and he’s now really confident with them. As for sleeping in an actual dog bed – forget it! He’s set foot in it once. Its only sofas and the big bed for this boy!
How did you approach the basics of showing him his new life?
He made great progress really quickly. Indeed his curiosity was stronger than his fear (most of the time). He’s such a sweet, funny little goof ball and it’s amazing to see his personality come out more and more. We were prepared for all the worst scenarios with him but he is so snuggly, well house trained and also has no interest in human food (unbelievable for a beagle!). We tried to get him into a routine as quickly as possible to help him feel safe and secure. Now he sits outside the kitchen in the morning impatiently waiting to go for his walk.
Did you speak to anyone else about taking on a lab beagle?
We didn’t speak to anyone about it. We just started looking, thinking that it would take a long time and suddenly he was almost here.
The house was so empty without a dog in it and we knew we could give a rescue a great life. It all happened really fast.
I have heard other people say that their dog who recently passed to the Rainbow Bridge had “sent” the current dog. Do you think Fred had something to do with Sunny?
I do think that he was ‘sent‘ by Fred. The day we heard we were getting Sunny, a Robin bounced across my path as I was running and I knew it was Fred telling me it was ok. We wanted a lab Beagle because it is something I am passionate about – ending animal testing. It was through following the Beagle Freedom Project that I came across the Twitter pack so it feels like it was meant to be!
Are you strict with him, given the possibility of his previous life being pretty awful?
We are not very strict with him. We figure he had a hard enough life and now he can enjoy the sofa and the big bed as much as he likes. We do make him sit and he is really good off the lead. We work with him on that so he is learning and getting good stimulation. Thankfully he is really keen to learn. We push him only if it’s things like going out for a pee etc. Really its to keep him to his routine but otherwise we are patient with him and let him make progress at his own pace.
What do you think are his best and worst habits?
His most endearing trait is his goofiness! He’s a bit a clown and falls over himself quite frequently. His one bad habit is he is a poop eater. Big time!
He has quite a nervous character so we have to watch him with loud noises and new things but his shaking episodes are not so frequent now. Recovery from trauma is not a linear process so we just take it day by day and if he has had a lot of stimulation and activity we will make sure he has a quiet day so he can process and recover.
He’s such a sweet boy – he really brought the life back into me after losing Fred. Life with no Beagle is not fun!
Thank you auntie Cathy. I think Sunny is in very safe hands and will learn that love and safety are now his for the rest of his days. He’s a very lucky beagle. And yes, life without a Beagle is no fun.
As he has been here for yet another year, I thought I should conduct Lenny’s appraisal. Thankfully I didn’t allow him to have one of those new fangled 360 degree appraisals. I don’t want him spreading false rumours about me. Anyway, sit back and make what you will of our chat.
So Lenny, 2020, what did you make of your first full year?
Well Dex it was very strange wasn’t it? We started the year off quietly, then too many people broke the rules. After that those who are in charge didn’t take action quickly enough so we went into three further quarantine periods. Thankfully we had each other, as well as our parents, in our own little bubble. We seem to be on the right path now, so I just hope everyone can continue to be careful and not become blasé.
Then we had the strange goings on when we were barred from bitey face in the guest room because loads of boxes appeared. Our parents never told us about the new kennel. All we saw was them disappear now and then, to suddenly reappear a few hours later. When the guys came to take away our possessions I was a bit worried, especially for all the toys that suddenly weren’t strewn across the floor in inappropriate places for mum and dad to fall over.
Do you miss our old stomping grounds then?
I do. Sometimes. When I arrived in 2019 you were kind enough to show me quite a few excellent walks from a couple of miles to a really good 10 miler that I did with dad once. I actually think we took a wrong turn and he just couldn’t admit that he’d gone the wrong way. Apart from that I enjoyed walking around the many places and seeing tons of really nice views. The deer and squirrels helped to make our adventures interesting. And, of course, we got to travel into London on the train or tube which was fun. I can see why you enjoyed the big field around Botley as you can see for miles from the tree line. As for the regular Pednor trips, yes I do miss them as I got to know plenty of other furs and people. It was nice to have some routine and, I suppose, regularity to life.
I do like it here though, as we have plenty of new places to visit and we’ve already been to the beach. The deer are bigger here too, although thats a bit scary if I think about it too much. There are many places we haven’t been to yet so I am looking forward to those. Also we haven’t been to the pub yet, and that is always interesting.
What do you think to the new house?
Oh I like it as it is very different to the previous one. Firstly it has these strange “stairs” that we can run up and down, whilst we chase one another. Also it has many different rooms in places that I need to get used to. I keep on doing things like chase you into the living room, only to find its actually the kitchen. A downside, if there is one, is that the garden is smaller than the previous house so I can catch you more quickly so we tend to shorten our garden exercise. I suppose the fact also that there is a water gun to curtail our over exuberant shenanigans is also a bit of a downside too. Dad is far too good a shot with it. I feel like I have settled really quickly here. I just feel like it’s safe and warm, I suppose. Also I have you and the parents so I feel safe in that regard, knowing I have you to rely on.
Did you find it strange that for a large proportion of 2020 we were under a degree of restriction regarding moving around and meeting people?
No, not really. We were lucky that we had the lovely walks almost on our doorstep. Combined with that we were sensible and stayed clear of people as much as we were able. If we met people when we were out dexploring the countryside we were able to greet them in typical Beagle fashion whilst staying at arms length. When we were allowed some freedom from the restrictions we didn’t really venture too far. It was almost like we knew that we were in the middle of a storm and were just riding it out. We did see Raffa’s mum in September when the rules were relaxed slightly but then people in general didn’t really behave properly and we went back into quarantine. I think as dogs we just followed our daily routine of walks, eating, sleeping and shenanigans in the garden. We had the freedom to do that without having the human worries about the virus, money, work and life in general.
Is there anything that you would do differently looking back over the last year?
Erm, no not really. I think the virus made everyone think a bit more about their local area and their life outside of their regular workplace. Maybe I would like to have had more days out on the train or tube, meet ups with pals and trips to the pub with our parents. Wow, I sound like I am desperate to go to the pub!
I think there were days when I could have done with a bit of a scenery change and had something different to look forward to. You did some trips into London the previous year up to March 2020 with dad which I would liked to have done but couldn’t due to the travel restrictions. Also now we have moved and we are much further away from a train station it would prove to be much more of a challenge getting to and from the station, let alone wandering around the big city saying hello to people. I am hopeful though, if people behave themselves, that I can still get to do some additional dexplorations, especially if I can do them with you.
Is there anything you think you have got better at?
Yes. Walking nicely on the lead and playing bitey face with you. I have learned from the Master of Bitey Face so I think I had no choice but to get better. Dad has worked harder with me when we have been out and I do listen more to him when he wants me to walk nicely or stop eating disgusting stuff. Well, most of the time I try to listen but you know how difficult it is. Mum is a bit more cunning when she wants me to obey commands whilst dad is a bit more direct. I suspect both their training styles have had effect on me. They both still roll their eyes when squirrels or rabbits are in my view though. I probably have to work harder with mum though, as I am not sure she believes I can walk nicely.
If you could bring one thing from the old house to the new one, what would it be?
Easy. The garden. It was like an adventure playground for us. Once I had been living in your house for a few months and had the chance to fully dexplore the garden, it just kept on giving up more secret places and scents to me. The new garden will be ok but it isn’t as large and there aren’t as many scents or nooks and crannies at the moment.
Apart from that, it’s really nice here in the house. This underfloor heating stuff came in handy when it was a bit chilly for the first month or so when we got here. And carpet instead of hardwood flooring in some rooms? Luxury as we could lie on the soft carpet and feel the warmth coming through.
Is there anything here that you would change?
Yes. I would stop the oven and hob from bleeping and upsetting you. I don’t like seeing you leave a room or go and hide in the study upstairs when the kitchen is in full flow. You look so worried sometimes, although you have got much braver recently and returned to make sure dad was ok when he is cooking. However I would still stop the bleeps.
Have you got a favourite walk yet?
I like the circular walk through Thakeham via the church on the hill, down the farm track, past the church, past the next farm and then back via the gravel track. It’s about five miles or so and is a good stroll. Also I have to admit the walk I did recently with dad when we went to the top end of Knepp Country Park was great fun. It was over seven miles and we saw the biggest deer I have ever clapped eyes on. And I was very tired when we got back although I think that was dads plan, the meanie. I hope to be finding some more favourite walks soon.
What are you looking forward to doing in the next twelve months?
Ugh good grief, where do I start? Now we are far more settled I am looking forward to the beach, walks to the pubs and seeing pals as often as possible. Summer is on the way and I hope to get to walk to many places to experience different things here. I haven’t tried this “ice cream” yet and you promised me that I would get to taste yellow snow in the winter, so I am looking forward to those treats. Apparently we are close to the South Downs so I want to go walking over those. And our fur cousin Minnie doesn’t live too far away now so, if I am lucky, I will meet her too.
Do you feel safer, or more secure, now?
Yes, I do. Now I have been living with you for two years I do feel much more part of the gang. As we said last year I was feeling my way around at first, maybe taking some liberties with your toys, beds and food until I understood better what was yours and what was mine. Now I can see that I am safe and loved, I feel more relaxed and I am happy in my fur. I have got used to being your little brother and it’s good as we knock along together quite well now. Often times we can do our own thing, and then meet up afterwards for a chat and snooze. I don’t feel like I have to compete for space any more and we can share things either in the garden or the house. We still squabble over the ownership of that bouncy orange ball but I haven’t seen it for some time so I assume it’s appearances are being limited.
I noticed recently that when you go into your cave bed which is next to mine, you curl up closest to my bed?
Oh, erm do I? Ah well erm. Ok here goes. I feel really settled and secure here. That is due entirely to you and our parents. As I am not allowed to sleep on the big bed, despite being found on there some mornings, I like to curl up next to you as I feel like I am safest when I am with you. I know I was like the proverbial hand grenade when I arrived into your house, and you all accepted me and made me feel really welcome. I just try to repay your trust by being nice. Yes, I know that’s difficult to believe when we are rolling around in the garden playing bitey face, but its a true story.
Ok, last question. What will you like to see and do in the coming year?
I want to go out more often and explore plenty more paths around here. I also want to go to the hills which I can see from my house. Then there are the beaches which are now much closer. If I can meet grandad more often we can take him with us as long as he behaves himself.
I would like to improve on my technique of creeping up on you from behind to play bitey face. I seem to permanently get to you just as you roll over and see me. I think I need to make my approach a little quieter. I do suspect that you know I am advancing upon your neck so I will have to work harder.
Hmm, yes that is something you need to improve upon. However I think that we can conclude this appraisal by confirming that I will allow you to spend the next year living with me so I can continue to train you as my apprentice.
Erm thanks Dex, that’s really kind of you. I will try not to disappoint you. Now, can I go and get some food?
As Lenny has been here for a calendar year, I thought I would sit down with him in between bitey face and garden shenanigans to see what he’s made of the last twelve months of living in my house. So, grab a gravy bone or ten, fill your bowls with Adam’s Ale and hopefully enjoy our woofs.
Lenny. Lenny!! Over here, yes it’s me, Dex. Hello!! We are supposed to be catching up on your first year.
Oh hello Dex, what’s up brofur? Oops sorry, I’ll just stop eating this stick. Right I’m all yours, what do you want to know?
Good grief.Right, first question.When we first met in Jo’s house in Essex, did you have any idea what was going to happen next?
Erm no. Not a clue. I was happy to be in the UK and to be having walks every day and the chance to practice my bitey face skills with the other dogs at auntie Jo’s. I hadn’t been here long from Cyprus and I was getting used to all the different things. Then you showed up, we went for a walk and I got to woof with you whilst we strolled across the park. You seemed quite a nice fur.
Erm, thanks. Did you find it difficult to adjust when you arrived in the UK?
I don’t know. As I say I hadn’t been here that long, I was still getting used to things like lots of grass, all my new buddies in Essex, the climate and different food. To then be whisked away and deposited in your house was a strange moment. I had been on an aeroplane and in cars so I suppose I just thought it was another adventure. What an adventure it is though!
So, when you got to my house what did you think?
Well I had met you the week before and to meet you again was a bonus. I remembered we had played in Essex and you were pretty good at snout jousting. We were allowed to go out into your garden straight away and we just chased each other. You were making a lot of noise in pursuit of me. I was happy as your garden is big so we had plenty of space. When Jo and Amelia left I didn’t really register what was happening as we were having so much fun. I suppose I didn’t realise they had gone. When it did dawn on me, I was a little bit worried as this was all very new and unfamiliar so I wasn’t wholly certain what was happening.
Did you struggle with the language?
No, I understood your woofs quite quickly. There is a common language of Beagling so I had the basics already in place. It just took a while for me to fully understand these “commands” things we are supposed to respond to from the parents.
We spent quite a while in the first few weeks “playing”, did you feel that you were settling?
Not really. At first I think I was still trying to find my paws in this new house with you and our parents. It was all quite strange for me, and I don’t think I quite appreciated how much of an upheaval it was for you too. I didn’t know you were an only child before I arrived so I suppose I didn’t understand what effect my arrival would have on you and your life. I was waking up quite early and wanting to go out, I was trying out all your beds as well as mine and I didn’t quite comprehend that you eat from one bowl whilst I eat from another. Things like that really. I didn’t have any set routine but that came fairly quickly so I started to settle soon.
You know that our parents were concerned at us two going at each other for the first week, don’t you?
Indeed. I got the impression that they were struggling a little with our tendency to continually squabble throughout the day, even down to not being able to sleep on different sofas. I suspect that the first elongated session of bitey face after a week did us the world of good though as I was whacked out after that. I think it was about two hours chasing each other around the garden and the parents were looking at one another grimacing with fear and trying to suppress the urge to step in. We just stood there panting and grinning at one another.
However I also think one of the seminal moments in the first week was when I had an accident in the house. I was worried that I was in big trouble but it was all just cleaned up and life went on. I think I even got some ear scratches. I could see that we would all get along ok after you and I had got our squabbles out of the way.
We got better eventually though, once you started to settle down.
Yes, we do get on better now, although we still do excellent bitey face games in the house and garden. I like learning from you, it’s fun. I’m quicker, but you have all the shortcuts worked out.
Hmm, anyway, moving swiftly on. What did you make of the short series of training sessions you went to?
I thought it was good, an excellent way to teach Dad how to feed me treats for a little effort on my part. As you had woofed, he is a pushover when it comes to sit, stay, lay down and wait. And the frankfurter treats were very welcome. I was with a group of other pups and I think I was the oldest. It was interesting to see what was required of me. I hope dad doesn’t read this bit about being easy to persuade on the treats front! We continued our training on the patio and in the garden at home so I think I got something out of it and now I am much better. Apparently I still need work on my recall outside, as they want to let me off in some places.
I have no idea where those places are, as the outside is full of scents, squirrels, rabbits and foxes. Oh and deer too.
This is true, and I wouldn’t mind being let off in the woods to be honest. Having woofed that, I suspect I wouldn’t be seen again for quite some time.
You didn’t like the car when you first got to ride in it?
No, I am afraid I felt really ill and got car sick. I went to see a nanny and when we arrived dad saw I wasn’t feeling great. Unfortunately he didn’t quite manage to get me out of the travel crate quickly enough and I was a bit ill. Again though it was all cleaned up without fuss. It was just about ok when I was going to training class as the journey was about 20 minutes but, when I saw nanny, we went round this motorway thing and it was quite a long journey. I enjoyed myself at nanny’s flat though. I don’t think dad was looking forward to the return but I managed to hold it all in on the way back. Mum and dad worked it out that it was the peripheral vision that was causing me problems so they sorted that out. Also I now travel with you in the car and we can while away the time playing cards, drinking beer, playing video games and watching sports. Oops I meant to say we just make sure each other is happy and then we go to sleep.
Well, you were certainly better when we all went to the Beagle World Record Reunion in September 2019 in Macclesfield near Manchester.
Indeed, I had got used to the car by that time and I was travelling with you so we were, erm, able to sleep and just not worry about anything. That was a great day, I loved every minute of it. I couldn’t believe my ears and eyes when we arrived and there were over 600 beagles. I just wanted to get out and about and meet as many of them as possible. Great day and I was completely whacked out when we were coming home.
Indeed, we met many friends that day.
We did. I had the honour of meeting Raffa, Griff, Boot, Daisy, Dolly, Ruby and even Tink and Tyrrell’s mums who were over secretly from Australia amongst many others. I know you had told me that I needed to be on my best behaviour when I met Beagle Twitter royalty that day. I tried my best. Meeting so many friends was just wonderful, I loved every minute of the day. And I especially liked that I could walk mum around the world record course, that you had done with dad the previous year. I was proud ears to be amongst illustrious world record breaking company. And you were there, of course (ouch!!)
We started to do more trips out in the car so you could get better at travelling.
Oh yes, I remember we went to Wendover Woods and then to Ashridge Common on consecutive weekends. They were brilliant as I was able to scent creatures and see so many things, I was tired before I got back to the car. It was also fun as dad decided we should go to the brewery on the way back from Ashridge so “everyone was a winner”.
Then we went to visit our other nan and grandad, and ran around their house like a couple of loons. They had those stairs that we weren’t supposed to use but our bitey face game was made all the better when you stood at the top of the stairs arooing at me. It was a shame we were only there for the day really. However it was a fun day. We went out for little day trips after that, so I suppose I got more used to it. Now I’m good at it although I don’t like the jumping into the boot and settling down bit.
The longer you were here, the more we tried to show you the different areas we can walk in.
We did. I liked one walk in particular, when we went through the woods, into and through three fields, down a byway and then circumnavigated a really big field to retrace our steps. That was fun, and full of new scents.
Ah, you mean Botley.
Probably. We went in a big circle and then came back via small paths over the top of the hill. Actually I like the walk around Pednor, the walk to Mayhall Farm and the one up to Chalfont as well. I think what I am woofing is that I like all my walks. It was good in the summer as it wasn’t too hot and we could walk in the shade of the trees as well as in the open fields.
I introduced you to the London Underground. What did you think when you first saw the tube train?
I was excited ears. I hadn’t come across one of these things before and to travel on one was fun. I remember we walked through the woods and lanes to that Chalfont place and then rode the tube back home. At first I didn’t know what to think, but as soon as it started moving it was fun. I was allowed to sit on mums lap as well and I could see the countryside passing by so that was a bonus. We went on the tube a few more times and you woofed to me that usually that meant something was in the offing for the future.
And I was right. The trip to London to meet Raffa.
Aw what a day. I was a bit worried when we only went out for a really short walk. And it was quite early when we had our breakfast so I thought I would be hungry. Walking up the hill to the train station, you woofed that this normally meant we were getting a longer trip so would be going on an overground train. When the train arrived I thought it would be like the tube, but it was much faster and I wasn’t allowed to sit on mum or dads lap. We arrived in London and my eyes were trying to take in all the sights and smells. You woofed it would be smelly air and it certainly was. We went through that Regents Park and then met Raffa at the train station. We went on tubes, walked streets, through markets, passed monuments, saw Towers, crossed bridges, woofed at people, saw sailing ships, crossed wobbly bridges, marvelled at cathedrals, went to the pub, waved at the Queens house and then took a black cab ride back to the train station. I even saw a big wheel covered in lights next to the river. No wonder we slept like logs on the return journey. I was so tired I could hardly put one paw in front of the other for a few days.
Indeed. Then we went and did it all again!
Of course, we met with Lucy’s mum and dad and we strolled around part of London again. Dad was trying to show them parts of London that people may not usually see. And I remember the Police lady on the horse was laughing at you as as you were arooing loudly near that Bank of England. It was reverberating through the streets.
Yes well, we can gloss over those small details about the Mounted Police lady.
We had a great time and I was quite sad when we woofed cheerio to Lucy’s parents at the Tower of London. Again though we slept all the way home and my paws were aching. Fun times. I hope we get to do that sort of trip again, hopefully with some other pals and buddies. I like exploring and there are so many places I want to go and see. Off lead would be good, but I suppose I will have to make do with being attached to a human for a while.
Oh you mean that time when the little green tree was put up and we received gifts without needing to obey commands? It was fun. We even got that turkey in our dinners for a few days after. We still went on walks, and the frost was on the ground. I’m not sure where this snow stuff was that you promised me? I was a bit disappointed to be honest ears as you woofed that I was going to be allowed to taste this yellow snow delicacy.
Ahem cough cough, yes well. You’ve been here a year. What are you looking forward to the most in the coming months and years?
I am looking forward to getting out and about and being able to meet new pals and play bitey face with them, without the threat of being arrested and put into dog prison for breaking the rules on being outside. This virus isn’t very nice to be honest ears and I wish it would go away. However, that means that humans have to behave themselves and listen to what they are told. If one of our parents is anything to go by, he doesn’t usually listen to anyone so we could be stuck with it for a while. He is being sensible about this virus though. I am looking forward to summer walks and paddling in the river to cool off. I want to go in the car and visit pals. I want to see new places and smell new scents. And if I can do all this with you, then I will be a happy beagle. Once this virus is beaten, we can do all sorts of exploring, visiting and shenanigans with our pals.
And what have you most enjoyed over the last year?
Ooh, good question. The snout jousting with you, as well as waking dad up by standing on him when he’s being lazy and trying to snooze around six am. I have enjoyed running around the garden listening to you arooo at the top of your voice. The walks through the fields and woods are great, travelling on the train and tube is fun and meeting pals on my walks is exciting. Being here though I think is the best. I have a solid routine with treats, walks, tickles, training, beds and love. Much love. I suppose I landed on my paws really when I got here. I had no idea what was going on when I got onto the big aeroplane in Cyprus and then found myself on the other side of Europe within hours. I’m glad you let me live here and I am pleased we are brofurs. I have enjoyed meeting pals and visiting exciting places like London. I have also enjoyed contacting many friends through our Twitter account. It’s good to see friends from all over the world and woof with them, especially when you are asleep. We’re like a big family and look after one another through good times and bad.
One last question, and then you can go back to chewing your stick. If you could do one thing in the next year what would you like to do?
Hmm, I think I would like to have a massive party with pals in this Lake District place you woof about. I have seen the pictures and it looks like beagle paradise so thats what I would like to do. Oh, and I would like to bring back all pals who have gone over the Rainbow Bridge. They all sound really good fun and I would love to meet them all. I know that’s two things, but I am a beagle and can’t count.
Cheers Lenny, that was fun. Enjoy chewing your stick. Hang on, what do you mean woofing with my pals when I’m asleep!!
Oh, erm, nothing Dex. Love you mate.
As a final comment from me, it is lovely to have Lenny here. I know we always have fun at each others expense but I feel like we have made great strides to living well together and, to be honest, I wouldn’t be without him now. We look out for each other and I enjoy showing him the places to go and what it is like to have a strong and stable life. I’m glad he’s my brother.
As people will be aware, little Lenny was adopted from Cyprus Beagles. Now he is well and truly esconced in the house with his paws firmly under the table, we thought it would be a nice idea to try and find out some more about Cyprus Beagles. As he is the main recipient of the kindness and love of the ladies at Cyprus Beagles, I am going to let him loose on the blog, so over to you Lenny.
Hello again friends, I am honoured to be asked to do a blog on Dexter’s behalf. He asked me what I would be interested in finding out and I, of course, said the lovely people who rescued me.
There are two ladies who organise the rescue of Beagles from Cyprus. Erin Scott (ES) in Cyprus and Joanne Mason (JM) in the UK. I am proud to ask the questions Lenny Beagle (LB).
My first question was “When did it all start?“
(JM) In July 2013 my mum posted a picture on Facebook of a lovely Beagle that was in danger of being PTS she simply wrote “number 5” as we already had 3 Beagles and a Sausage! I managed to get in contact with Erin who was the author of the Facebook post. I told her we were going to be out on holiday and would like to help if welcome. It turns out Erin knew my mum as she used the vet clinic Erin works at. We arranged to meet and Wilson became our first foster. He arrived in the UK on 17th September 2013. I didn’t keep Wilson, he was rehomed. I know where all our dogs are and I’m in touch with all but one.
My love for the breed started in May 2011 when I got my first Beagle puppy (Mabel), having done no research and quickly developed a love for the breed. The rest as they say is history. Hank quickly followed Mabel in Februry 2012 as a 6 month old pup that had already had 2 homes.
Fostering isn’t always easy on the heart, each and everyone holds a very special place in my heart. Some you bond with more than others, for instance one thing I’ve learned is that if you let them sleep on your bed, you’re done for. Some of these hounds have been through so much and have every reason not to trust a human ever again. Yet they love and trust us. It’s an absolute privilege to be the UK part of Cyprus Beagles.
(ES) I started working as a vet nurse in Cyprus in 2008. I saw many cases of abuse and neglect, particularly for the hunting dogs here. However it also made me realise what amazing characters they have. I adopted my first rescue Pointer mix, but sadly he was poisoned (a fairly common occurrence here) a year later. I then adopted another, and feeling that she needed a friend, I decided to adopt a buddy for her. Having dealt with Beagles in my job, I started looking for one, and along came Jeremy Beagle. It was then that my love for Beagles began. Thereafter I went on to foster a few dogs for other rescue groups, and also created a Facebook page to share the many posts of Beagles needing homes in Cyprus. I rehomed 2 Beagles in Cyprus, prior to meeting Jo. Wilson came along, I met Jo, and Cyprus Beagles came about. In the beginning it was a learning curve, ensuring that we were doing everything correctly in terms of travel, preparing our dogs and making sure they were as healthy as possible. For example, even though blood testing is not a legal requirement we still do it. There was never a question of cutting corners or not doing things properly. We also had to find a way to fund our venture but still make it an affordable option for UK adopters. We are extremely lucky to have the support we do now, but in the beginning it was sometimes touch-and-go whether we would have the funds necessary.
(LB) Thank you for the extensive responses, I have a question on the airlines that carry the beagles to the UK. It sounds a little strange, but was there any problems with arranging the transport? Was it fairly straightforward thanks to the “connection” between Cyprus and the UK?
(JM) No problems whatsoever. The staff at the ARC’s (Animal Reception Centres) at Gatwick and Heathrow are fantastic. They care passionately about the dogs, they are always let out of their crates, allowed to go to the toilet and clean bedding etc is put in their crates before they are released to their owners or consignee. I know most of the staff by name and they know me which helps to build a good relationship.
(ES) Flights are always booked through our fabulous flight coordinator. That way we get group booking/rescue rates. I can only imagine the work and juggling involved for her especially, recently, with airlines going bust and others imposing new rules at the last minute. Check-in here usually goes OK from our side of things, with most of the staff quite interested in all these dogs turning up.
(LB) How many beagles have you rescued and re-homed to the UK?
(ES) The numbers are high, but there are always more beagles waiting. So far we’ve re-homed 56 Beagles, and one very special Jura Hound. If you include those that never left me it’s another 4, plus Snoop, who we sadly had to have put to sleep here because of his medical issues. Currently I have 2 fosters here in Cyprus, being 1 hound and 1 Beagle. So altogether it’s 64 dogs rescued under Cyprus Beagles.
(LB) Apart from being in love with the breed (who can blame you!), is there any other reason for focusing on Beagles?
(ES) A reason to be a breed-specific rescue is for the sake of my sanity. The number of stray, abandoned and abused dogs here in Cyprus is prohibitive. I had to find a way to limit our focus, as it was driving me slightly crazy not being able to save every dog. We still can’t help every needy Beagle that we are informed of, but we try and help those most in need or in danger.
(LB) If you could change something, what would it be? For instance, do you think the authorities in Cyprus do enough to protect the beagles on the island?
(ES) Cyprus needs to enforce its existing law on microchipping and registration, and be much tougher on those flouting the law. The permissable ‘standards’ for how to keep a dog should be raised, especially for hunters dogs. It’s common to see metal cages in the middle of the fields, housing 1 or many dogs. The cages are often full of poop and only a bucket of green water for drinking. The dogs are mostly only taken out to hunt. Pet dogs are often kept on chains in yards. There needs to be a positive drive for neutering. Every day I’m aware of a Beagle in need and it makes me upset. Those that obviously have Leishmania (*see footer note*) we just cannot take on, as the chances of rehoming are very small, and the potential expenses very big. I can only keep so many myself and those I have already have problems, which cost me a fortune! Thankfully we had space to take on Bosley, knowing full well that he was a serious case, but it seems that Watson is not a rehoming prospect either, which leaves me with 5 permanent dogs.
(LB) Do you think that any changes will actually be undertaken to alleviate the suffering and subsequent re-homing of the Beagles?
(ES) I don’t think the authorities will be making any positive changes soon. There have been rumours of new legislation but it actually doesn’t address the major issues.
(LB) Finally, what do you think would be the most help to you, outside of additional donations and funds.
(ES) What would help us most? This is a tricky question really. As we are, with Jo and myself doing what we do, we are limited as to the number of dogs we can help. However this keeps it more personal and I really see the two of us and our adopters and of course the Beagles as a big Cyprus Beagles family. If we had more people to foster, in Cyprus and the UK, we could potentially rehome more dogs. But I’m not sure we would be as successful.
(JM) I totally agree with Erin on what would help us. Because we are so small we can have a much more personal relationship with our adopters. They really are like family to us. A lot of the Beagles come back to me to board when their new mums and dads are on holiday. As such I truly believe we are as successful as we are, because we are so small, and we are extremely lucky to have a very lovely group of supporters.
(LB) So it’s a case of having more people to give homes to Beagles like me then? That’s more than reasonable. One final, final question. You mentioned two of the Beagles who couldn’t be homed here in the UK, can you let us know a little more about them?
(ES) BOSLEY. At the end of November 2017 I was tagged in a post for a very sick little Beagle. I knew straight away from the pictures that he had leishmania. I also knew we had to help him. He captured people’s hearts and due to the amazing donations that our supporters sent we were able to give him the best treatment possible. Bosley pulled through but has been left with limited vision. He has also had a couple of seizures. Leishmania is a lifelong disease so he will most likely be on medication for the rest of his life. But he is the most Beagly, stubborn, greedy little boy there is, and he lives his life to the fullest!
WATSON. Watson was an inmate at a local pound. No-one claimed him, so he came to us. His nose was cause for concern, and after a lot of investigation we found out he has lupus, an autoimmune disease. It’s a constant battle to keep on top of his nose problem; currently he’s on a grain-free diet and two kinds of supplements, as well as steroids. We’ve also fixed one ruptured cruciate ligament, with the second one to be done also, but it’s a balancing act with his treatment protocol right now. Watson is a strange little Beagle, but his zest for food and walks is second to none.
(LB) Ladies, thank you for giving us a better insight into how you do the rescues, why you do them (of course its obvious) and that you will continue to do them. And from a personal point of view, thank you for rescuing me. I am now in my forever home with my brother and parents with whom I am happy and contented. Without your efforts, I would be probably still be a street dog and I much prefer my life now.
If you would like to find out more about Cyprus Beagles, please visit their Facebook page and contact the ladies directly. I am sure they will be glad to hear from more prospective adopters for Beagles like me who need a new home with love and tickles. And food.
*Leishmania* is due to protozoan parasites from the Leishmania species. You get leishmaniasis from being bitten by an infected sand fly. The parasite lives and multiplies inside the female sand fly. This insect is most active in humid environments during the warmer months and at night, from dusk to dawn. Symptoms can include Skin lesions – particularly near the head and pressure points, Lymphadenopathy – Swollen lymph nodes, Enlarged spleen, Weight loss, Fever, Abnormal nails, Epitaxis Renal disease symptoms, Anaemia
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.
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:
Nellie Beagle was rescued by BREW, Beagle Rescue, Education & Welfare. I wanted to understand and learn more about how Nellie came to be adopted and what was the process. So, I asked Nellie’s mum some questions.
When you decided to adopt, did you specifically want a beagle or was it more of an accidental acquaintance?
How did we wind up with Beagles? Well, our neighbour had a beagle called Zoe. She walked by our house every day. Zoe was such a sweet dog, always happy to give a lick or a hug. When we decided to get a dog, my husband Rich said ‘Why don’t we get a beagle?’ Once we decided on the breed, I started doing my research which took around 6 months. I noticed that there were a number of organisations out there who rescued and rehomed beagles. We decided that we would pursue an adoption through BREW – Beagle Rescue, Education and Welfare. We filled out the application, had the home visit and were approved for adoption. The lady that undertook the home visit check actually brought two male beagles with her, they were called Magoo & Finnegan. Whilst looking at the available pups, I noticed Nellie and fell in love. She was just so petite and beautiful and we had to have her. We were approved to adopt her and we travelled to pick her up a few weeks later. Nellie was only in a foster home for a few weeks and I believe that she was used for hunting prior to us having her. She wasn’t potty trained and she wasn’t interested in being with us for the first 6 months. The things she did like were eating, going for walks and her bed. Her bed was a favourite from the very first day. The first 6 months were tough – she was pooping and peeing in the house and hiding the remainder of the time. We tried to crate train her and she would do the most amazing things with the crate – turn it upside down, on its side, move it across the room – just nuts. When that didn’t work, we tried gating her and she ate the gate. We came home one day to find shreds of wood all over the place from her gnawing away, trying to escape. This required a vet visit to make sure she didn’t have any splinters in her mouth.
Did you ever feel in the first 6 months that it may be a little too much to take on?
I remember telling my husband, Rich, at one point that if she peed in the house one more time I was done. Actually I think after that time she stopped peeing in the house. She also dug up a brand new rug – we put it down, left for a little while, then returned and she had made a giant hole in the rug. It was almost like a cartoon. We are not sure how one little dog ruined a 8 x 10 rug in 3 hours but she did. She was very trying at times but we knew that she was learning how to be a dog and how to live with us. This spurred us on, made us more determined to succeed and give her a life worth living. After 6 months she eventually settled in and became the perfect dog.
Why the sudden change after 6 months?
Perfect took about 6 months. There were many good things about Nellie from day 1. She liked to sleep and liked her bed so she was never up early or in the middle of the night. She always liked supper and was a good eater. She was always mild mannered and sweet to both humans and pups. She loved to go for a walk. She was a tracker, barking constantly when she smelled a rabbit. She loved her dog walker and couldn’t wait to see her each day. I think it took a village of people to get her to perfect.
Was Nellie called Nellie when you adopted her?
Yes Nellie was Nellie and as it is a cute name we decided to keep it and not subject her to having to learn another name. She was healthy, happy and friends with all of the dogs in the neighbourhood. She also made friends with all of the humans too. Everyone knew and loved Nellie.
So, was the adoption process easy and how did Nellie arrive at your house via BREW and a foster home?
Yes she was fostered in Ohio. She went from pound to a Brew foster home to us so had quite some upheaval. The process was easy but there were of course some requirements such as initial application, home visit, approval, etc. All hurdles we needed to cross.
Thanks. So it was fairly straightforward. Please continue.
Her grandparents also loved her – one grandma made chicken especially for her and the other made sure she had Christmas presents and brought treats on every visit. Nellie loved going to the dog sitters house and conspiring with her beagles (the dog sitter never had beagles until she met Nellie and she wound up having 4 and being a life long friend). The dog sitter has 5 fenced acres. Nellie would run in the front door, pick up the pack and run out the back door in a matter of a minute. We would try to say good bye and tell her that we would miss her but she was long gone. When we picked her up, her nose was always raw from all of the good sniffs she found.
After 5 years, we moved to a house that had a fenced yard. We thought it might be nice to give Nellie a friend, so we adopted Lucy, a senior beagle from BREW. Nellie was great with Lucy. She welcomed her with open paws. There were no issues at all. Lucy lived with us for about 2 years before she went OTRB.
Do you think there was a “pack’ mentality between Nellie & Lucy? Maybe luck that they were two gentle like minded beagles?
Maybe luck & pack.. I think so. I also think that Nellie was such a loving dog that she would welcome anyone.
What did you know of Lucy? Can you tell us a little more about her?
We don’t know much, again she was a pound dog we adopted through BREW. She was very sick when we first adopted her, she almost died as she had pancreatitis. She was only with her foster mom for a short time. She was at least 10 when we adopted her. We wanted someone around Nellie’s age at that time. I think Nellie was 8 or 9 when we adopted Lucy.
Thank you. So, Biscuit, Remington & Dawson are the next ones on the radar.
After Lucy passed, we thought it would be a good idea to adopt another senior beagle. We drove to Chicago to pick up Biscuit and put her in the backseat with Nellie and came home. Again, there were no issues. The two of them were like 2 peas in a pod from day one. There was no fighting, just beagle love. Biscuit had been in rescue for almost a year while she worked through heartworm treatment. She was such a happy and pretty pup. A few months after we adopted Biscuit, we learned of a terrible situation where 2 beagles were living outside, not being fed, not receiving vet care and were in danger with the cold weather coming. A friend was able to get the owner to surrender the pups. Our friend asked for our help because she travelled for her job and was not able to take the dogs to care for them. We told her that we would help until we could figure out what to do. Again my husband, Rich, met Remington and Dawson at the vet the first day they arrived. They had been living in their own filth and both were malnourished and sick. I should say that neither had names at this point and they were named at the vet’s office. Dawson had ear infections, intestinal parasites and nasal parasites. Remington had the same plus a skin issue and heartworm. We got the medication and veterinary care that they needed and then moved them to crates in our laundry room for 90 days. We could not have them with the girls as they could pass on the parasites and infections. After 3 months, we were able to get Dawson neutered and get all of his infections cleared up. Remington went through heartworm treatment and when that was successfully completed, he was neutered. Neither dog was housebroken or had any manners at all. We needed to teach them everything about being a dog. This was a very difficult time for us. We weren’t prepared to have 4 dogs, 2 of them very sick, but we figured it out. After working through all of the issues with Remy and Dawson, there was no way that we could give them up, so we wound up with 4 dogs.
Did you know of the situation with Remington & Dawson before they arrived at the vets?
We believe the boys were owned by a man who passed away. The dogs were given to his son and we understand that he did not take care of them. At least this is what we were told at the time. We don’t know if they were sick prior to the dad passing away or not. I have pictures of where they were living which was essentially a fenced in area with a chicken coop type place and weeds everywhere. We are not sure why this situation happened, only that a friend of a friend became aware of the situation and asked the owner to surrender the pups and miraculously he did. The odd thing is that he actually had another dog, I guess his dog, that was well taken care of and living with him.
What did the vet say when your friends had the boys surrendered and then picked up by you?
One friend had the owner surrender them and the other friend picked up the dogs and drove them to the vet. Rich met them at the vet. The vet knew that they were going to be in bad shape but we are not sure the vet knew how bad of shape they were in. The boys were living in their own faeces and Rich said they were really stinky. The vet said she has seen similar cases of neglect in the past and that we probably saved Remington’s life. Clearly much longer in the insanitary conditions and he would have died. Dawson would have too but he was not as sick as Remington. After the vet check the boys went to the dog wash and our friend went through 2 bottles of shampoo trying to get them clean. After the boys initial visit to our friend’s vet, we made an appointment and took them to our vet about a week later just to have them checked out and to get additional medications and make sure that nothing was missed in their initial vet visit. Getting them healthy – especially Remy – was a journey. It took Remington 6 months before he was through heartworm treatment and clear of all issues.
It is heartbreaking to hear stories like this, however it is heartwarming that the boys were saved and are happy. Can I ask about Nellie going OTRB (Over The Rainbow Bridge)?
Life at our house with 4 dogs was going well for a number of months until we took Nellie for her annual physical. They did a urine test and discovered that she had TCC or Transitional Cell Carcinoma. The outlook was very bleak as most dogs lose their battle within 6 months. TCC is cancer of the urethra and is common in older spayed beagles. Usually what happens is that the urethra gets blocked and the dog cannot urinate, so they need to be put down. We were very fortunate as the foremost vet researcher for TCC was at Purdue University, close to our home. Nellie started treatment there, first in a clinical trial, and then traditional chemo. She continued her fight for almost 3 years. She was going for chemo monthly and taking daily medications. She eventually decided that she had enough and stopped eating one day. We took her a few days later to the vet and she went OTRB. It was truly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. We sent tissue samples to Purdue so they could potentially help another pup and/or stop the disease completely.
We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of love from the Twitterpack at her passing. She truly was one in a million.
Again, thank you. It is truly heartbreaking when things like this occur. Can you say, is TCC hereditary, is it common?
We are not sure if it is hereditary but it is very common in older spayed female beagles and also in Schnauzers, I think.
Since Nellie’s passing, Biscuit’s health has continued to decline. We think she is at least 14. She has congestive heart failure and is on a number of medications. The medications cause issues with the kidneys and we are now dealing with kidney and liver issues with her. She is going to the vet twice a week for fluids to help her kidneys. Remington (9) and Dawson (8) continue to be happy pups.
Thank you for letting us know so much information about all the dogs you have rescued and loved. Giving a dog a chance of a good life is wonderful and we are truly grateful to you, and of course Rich.
In an effort to try and find out how rescues are differently managed and costed in different parts of the world, I took the opportunity to ask Dixie Beagle’s mum in New Jersey about Dixie & Maddy’s rescues. I also asked about the problems encountered with the rehoming process, but which were overcome with love and resilience. You will see that there is some considerable frustration at some of the practices used by the adoption people.
Can you tell us about your experience when you decided to get a rescue dog?
“When we finally decided to get another dog, the first thing to do was decide pretty much what we wanted. Our list was a 20 to 30 pound adult dog that would walk a few miles a day and would not hunt our Caique (small parrot) that had free run of our living room. There were only 2 brick and mortar shelters within 30 minutes of our home so we started there. The first shelter was predominantly pit bulls and pit mixes both of which are too big and strong for me. The other shelter was just as disappointing so we continued our search via the internet. Of course, now that there was no initial face to face meeting with the dog, this meant the process was lengthened so we had the chance to meet the dog before adopting it. We narrowed our search to fairly local rescues. We had friends in other states that rescued their dogs for less than $100. Imagine our surprise when we found we would be spending a minimum of $300. After months of looking on line we decided to start going to “adoption events” at local malls. We finally found a dog, we asked the foster as many question as we could think of, walked the dog around the stores and outside and agreed the 24 pound mixed breed would do the job well. We filled out the paper work and 3 days later one of the rescue’s founders brought the dog and a gallon zip-lok bag of food, and traded them for a check. We named her Scruffy for the unkempt slight curly black fur that covered her. The bird was not happy losing his out of the cage time however we needed time for all to adjust. Scruffy was great. She lay in the kitchen while I was preparing food. She walked like a showdog. She didn’t bark at every little thing, she had great manners and we were happy. After 5 days we thought the Caique might be able to spend a bit of time on his play stand. I had Scruffy across the room as the bird came out. She stayed right next to my feet for about 15 minutes, then as the bird started to whistle, Scruffy charged the playstand. The bird flew to me out of fear and Scruffy was on me, snapping like crazy, trying to get the bird. The bird bit me from fright as I grabbed Scruffy’s collar. I called the rescue and the response was, “Well she chased all the birds out of the yard but we didn’t think that your parrot would be out of a cage so thought it would be alright.” Scruffy was returned to the rescue and our check was returned.”
So, what happened next?
“Back to our search. We decided maybe a young dog would be more accepting of a bird in the house. We found a rescue that had a beagle mix litter about 5 months old. Given the age of the litter pups, we considered that a pup should be young enough to train. We called and the owner/operator said she only had a female left from the litter and would bring her by the next day. The pup was beautiful but very shy. The rescuer attributed that to being shown at adoption events and losing all her littermates. The pup won my husband’s heart right away and cried when he went inside to get her a cookie. She immediately crawled to me but kept looking for him. We had a quick talk and decided to take her. We paid $350 for her with the promise to get a $50 refund once we had her spayed. She had won our hearts so we were content to pay this. During the first week, we took her to our vet for a check up and found out that she was probably a bit older at maybe 6 months, and she had ear mites. That didn’t impress us about the care she had received at the rescue. She also was more than just shy, she was afraid of everything. She had a hard time walking away from us in the yard. She shook at anything unknown. After one mistake, she was house broken so we assumed we could bring her out of her shell. When we went back to the vet to make sure the mites were gone, he admitted that he didn’t think we would keep her and offered a bleak outlook on her ever becoming a normal dog. We made progress getting her out. After a month it was time to spay her. Dixie was a lot of work and patience but we were committed. We found a trainer to work with her and us to make her more confident. I decided to claim the $50 refund to help pay for the private training. Imagine my surprise when I could not contact the rescue. A little investigation showed me that her rescue had been shut down a week after her adoption due to animal welfare concerns! It didn’t matter. We were committed to giving this sweet little pup a good life. When we got her it took us 2 weeks to get her to walk 80 feet to the road. Now, at 7 years old, with a lot of hard work on all our parts, she walks 2 miles twice a day, walks at a 15 minute mile pace. She kind of accepts the bird, she greets anyone that says hello on her walks and makes us laugh at her antics everyday. She is no longer fearful. The only leftover problem is that she gets overexcited very easily.”
It sounds like it was hard work at first, but that perseverance paid off?
The first vet was right, she isn’t a normal dog. She is a great dog. We learned a few things during that time. First, both rescues lied just to place the dog even if it might come back. We were fairly flexible in what we wanted and even redefined our search and that is important, but we may have been a bit too flexible. While we would not trade Dixie now, there were moments when we almost gave her up because she was too energetic for people of our age. It took about a year before we adopted Dixie and I sometimes wonder if search fatigue influenced our decision to take and keep Dixie. We often say “we didn’t choose Dixie as much as she chose us.” I think we just all needed each other.
It sounds as if there is a very special bond between you all. Maybe that you feel now you have put in so much time and effort from both you and Dixie, that you are a strong unit. You must have been pretty upset with the rescue centres though?
Well, we subsequently found out some more information, which we couldn’t confirm but seems to show that Dixie was born in Kentucky. The “story” is that the litter was found under a shed and turned into animal control. I don’t know that for a fact. We have no idea how she got to NJ. Her NJ rescue was obviously not a good place to be as a pup. The woman told us she had never stepped on grass until she came to meet us. We can only imagine her life before us. When we got her she was afraid of the world and didn’t trust humans not to hurt her. Treating her ear mites did not help that situation. Although it didn’t hurt it was uncomfortable to have liquid squirted into her ears. In the beginning she did not like anyone reaching for her and especially not over her head. We started touching her back near her tail. Soon we were stroking her back and chest. It actually took about 2 years before we could ruffle her ears without her pulling away. Now she loves any kind of petting and tickling. She was ok with a collar but did not like being controlled by a lead. In the beginning, she had no curiosity. She had to be coaxed to walk a bit farther every day. Neighbors would laugh as we tried to get her around that block. When fear became too great she would just stop, stand still and shake. We were overjoyed when she made it around the block but we had to be careful how we showed it as even praise given too loudly or actively would make her cower. We couldn’t clap our hands or wave them about and “good girl” said too loudly had the same effect as “no”. We learned to physically smile whenever we praised her and eventually she got it. We stopped saying “no” to stop unwanted behaviors and made the ah-ahh sound some use with toddlers. We still use that sound today before a firm “no” if ignored. Much of our progress in giving Dixie confidence came through her daily walks. We have many dogs behind fences in our neighborhood. Many of those dogs bark at people on the street. We were told to just ignore the barking and walk by. Dixie would freeze and want to run away at the first sound. One day I picked her up and carried her by a solid fence behind which was a barking dog. This was a major mistake according to a trainer, however once by, I put her down and continued on. Dixie found some interesting smells and was happy. I had to repeat that a few times. Thereafter she would pause at the barking and then run to the smells she knew were waiting just up the road. After that it was easy to slow her down and now she doesn’t even acknowledge unseen barking dogs. Just as I went against conventional dog training by picking her up to get past a fear block, we both soon realized that each dog is different and we had to become creative in finding ways to help her get past fear triggers.
Not all triggers are alike either. She was terrified of clapping, doors slamming or something heavy falling but thunder or fireworks had absolutely no effect on her behavior. It’s not so important to know why she was afraid as to find triggers and help her conquer them. We did consult a behaviorist and Dixie was on Prozac for 4 months. During that time we eliminated many triggers and her life became much better. And then our trainer suggested one more thing. He wanted us to start Trick Training with her. Soon Dixie could sit up, play dead, wave, roll over, spin in circles, weave through my legs while I was walking, jump through hoops and other goofy behaviors. The amazing thing was that with each new trick, she gained confidence. It showed in how she strutted down the street like she owned the place. She still has some traits such as not liking change or ignoring a “Quiet” command and having virtually no recall but those are common to most beagles. We can’t change instinct. The only other suggestion our trainer had was that she might benefit if we had another dog. It took us a couple of years to take that advice, but now that we have it has made a big difference. Before she was happy with us but not necessarily accepting of others. Now she is a social butterfly wanting to meet all dogs she sees and any person that says hello when we pass. It took 4 years to get a good dog and 6 years to get a great dog.
Sounds wonderful, there is so much progress with Dixie to allow her to become the strong, confident Beagle that we all see today. Shall we move on to Maddy?
We had been told that another dog might help Dixie resolve her anxiety. When we decided to finally get her a friend, we decided we did not want a puppy and this time we would get a slightly smaller dog. With that in mind, we realized we could look at a wider age range, anywhere from 3 to 10. On this basis we started our search. We missed a dog by one person in line at a shelter. One of the rescues gave a dog to a friend after keeping us waiting for a month. We were frustrated again with the search. Then we found a rescue that was linked with a kennel specializing in end of life care for dogs. The rescue part of the organization took any adult dog but mostly had dogs 7 years or older. We stopped in at one of their adoption events and got to know them. They didn’t have a dog we wanted at the time, but they got their dogs from a kill shelter in New York City whenever they had space. Eventually we went back to see their dogs. The event was at a pet store. We arrived shortly after it began. There was a Puggle that seemed ok, though heavier than we wanted, until someone showed up with another dog and it got aggressive. I then fell in love with another but it was blind and we didn’t think it would work out. The rescue workers told us to wait as there were 3 more dogs coming. Soon two of the dogs showed up… a Shih Tzu and a Schnauzer. Both were 8 years old. They had been raised together but given up when their owner was hospitalized. The Shih Tzu was perfect. Her “brother” was having a hard time adjusting to the new reality and was fixating on her. The rescue really wanted to adopt them together. We would have taken them singly, but 3 dogs would be too much for us. Then the last dog arrived. She was a 9-10 year old long haired Chihuahua. Smaller than we wanted but we decided to take a look. The foster handed her to Tony and said she would probably whine as she didn’t like many people. He spoke with the foster for a full half hour and was holding the dog the entire time. He then passed her to me. I noticed all the other rescuers were paying attention to us. We spent about an hour holding and walking her then went home to think about it. The decision made, it was time for the dogs to meet in a home visit/inspection. When the fosters arrived they drove straight up to the house, instead of letting them meet in neutral territory on the street. The foster brought her daughter with her ,who was very attached to “Madison”, and wanted to make sure Dixie wouldn’t attack her. Dixie was very excited running around the yard and barking like a loon. Little Madison was a bit uneasy but as there was no aggressiveness from either of them, I said we wanted her.
Suddenly the foster said she had to check our references before the deal could be done. It took her a week. She talked to all my neighbors. She called our vet to make sure we could take care of Dixie and seems to have got in a fight with the vet over the response. The Vet Assistant who answered the phone told her to give us the dog and refused to answer any questions about Dixie. Without anything to prevent it, we got a call to say we could have Madison for $200. We picked her up 2 days later. First thing we did was change her name to Maddy. The foster told us she would only eat boiled chicken breast and cheddar cheese, hand fed. She was sleeping on her daughter’s bed and she didn’t like to go for walks. Within 2 weeks we switched her over to kibble. We bought her a harness that fit her properly and started taking her for walks, and she started sleeping in a crate. We took her in for a vet check and the assistant who had talked to the foster was there. She was so excited for us and told us about the call. Maddy has a collapsing trachea (common in small dogs) and luxating patellas. Other than that and needing her teeth cleaned, her only problem was her weight. She weighed 10.2 pounds! Probably due to the horrible diet which kibble and excersize would help.
Did Dixie take to Maddy straight away?
Bringing a second dog into a home isn’t hard, but its not easy. It takes a while for things to settle into a routine. Dixie is not good with change so we had a little trouble from both sides. Maddy was a bit intimidated by Dixie and seemed to have a slight trust problem. This was not helped when on the second night at home, Maddy tried to jump over a sleeping Dixie and fell short landing on Dixie! Dixie reared up with a growl and it took about a week before Maddy would go near her. Dixie was a bit jealous of the attention and special food Maddy got while we were switching her to kibble. That eased a bit once they both ate the same food. We are lucky that the food we feed Dixie makes a version for small dogs with much smaller pellets. However, Dixie, being a beagle mix, decided she wanted all the food and one night chased Maddy off her bowl. Now Maddy eats in a crate and probably will forever as she eats much slower than Dixie. Problem solved. After 6 months, Maddy had lost her excess weight and now weighs 7.5 pounds. She was building her stamina on daily walks that she loves. Early after adoption Maddy couldn’t keep up with Dixie so at least once a day we would all head out together. One of us would take Dixie for her usual walk. The other would head out with Maddy. We planned our routes so we would meet up at some point close to home and the four of us would finish the walk together with Maddy trying hard to keep up and Dixie being held back to a slower pace, kind of our version of a “pack walk”.
About the time we had made great strides in Maddy’s exercise and diet, we took her to one of her rescue’s events. Everyone was excited to see how good Maddy looked. After fielding many questions about what and how she was eating, we got the back story on Maddy. It seems she had been with her foster for at least 6 months. Everyone kept telling the foster that she was not helping the dog become adoptable by babying her so much. We also learned that the foster had overcharged us $50 in an effort to make us cancel the deal so she could keep Maddy. We didn’t care and consider the extra money a donation to the rescue. There have been many ups and downs during this year. We had to learn to let the dogs work things out by themselves, as long as there’s no contact with teeth. Dixie was barking more as she was excited more often and Maddy assumed that was correct behavior so barks a lot now. Dixie learned that Maddy got attention when she whined so now Dixie whines too. Maddy still eats in her crate but the only food she feels the need to guard is her nightly chew and even that is easing some. And just recently Maddy has become strong enough to keep up with a slightly slowed Dixie on her evening walks.(We think we see a lead splitter in our future.) Now more often than not, when the girls are resting we find Dixie lying on one side of the pillow that Maddy is sleeping on.
Apart from a couple of early incidents, Dixie liked Maddy right from the start. She keeps trying to get Maddy to play chase with her. It hasn’t happened yet but maybe next summer. Dixie became Maddy’s protector almost immediately. Our neighbor has a dog that fence fights. He charges the fence and growls and barks. Maddy was terrified. It’s great because Dixie ignores him. The second time it happened Dixie ran over and stood between the dog and Maddy until he gave up and left the fence. Maddy now wants to do everything that Dixie does. Dixie is very demanding about getting her two daily walks. Maddy is just as demanding but seeing her bounce and run in circles when the lead comes out makes us laugh so it’s ok. Dixie gave Maddy the needed confidence to adjust to her new life. And Maddy has helped Dixie too. Dixie always wanted to meet people but couldn’t let herself meet a stranger. Now she bounces up to anyone that speaks to us while we’re out walking. Dixie plays more and Maddy has started being interested in toys. Everyday we see improvements all around.
That’s the story of Dixie and Maddy. It hasn’t always been easy and is rarely quiet but we wouldn’t change a thing. We are happy every day that we have these two sweet rescued dogs in our lives.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.