Gracie and NEBHR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nellie looking festive

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

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

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

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

General link to the website’s home page is

http://newenglandbassethoundrescue.org/ 

And our Facebook page is New England Basset Hound Rescue

 

Dixie and Maddy rescue

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.

Chilterns Dog Rescue Society

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

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

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

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

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

Ray

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

Toby

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

Tonya

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

Mocha

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

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

International Rescue

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

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

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

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

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

Goon.

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

Bean.

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

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

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

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

Boo (Taboo)
Nut.

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

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

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

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

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

Oggy.

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

Oscar

The rest is history.

Griff Rehomed

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

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

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

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

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