A Sunny disposition

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.

The air of freedom. I love it.

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!

This is new. I wonder if I will be loved?

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!

Wake me up when it’s lunch o’clock.

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!

These people are great. It’s good to be loved.

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.

What happens when the novelty wears off?

It occurred to me today, in the middle of this latest quarantine lockdown, that it is ninety days since my nanny went to the Rainbow Bridge to see grandad and all my buddies who have departed. And it made me wonder again about my life. I know I seem to be quite cogitative recently and maybe its because of the current situation with this virus and many other things happening. The time has flown since dad took the fateful phone call in mid August. Nanny and grandad are still in our hearts and minds. Sometimes I think I can see dad looking toward the heavens when I have allegedly done something silly.

I know I am a little disparaging about Lenny but it’s good to have a little brother to run around after, play with and generally share my life. I say it often enough however I am a very lucky dog to have love, safety and security showered upon me. Walks every day come rain or shine, food twice a day, biscuits and treats on other occasions and the pick of seven beds to sleep in all add up to me feeling happy. I am happy also that Lenny has somewhere safe to call home. He deserves it.

There are way too many other furs who don’t have the singular luxury of a bed, love, food or security throughout their lives and this makes me sad. Since the global virus marched its way through almost every country on the planet, I read about dogs being sold for extraordinary amounts of money because the demand outstrips the supply. Thousands of pounds for a puppy sold over the internet, on the back of no visit to see the little fur in its “home” environment, not seeing it with mum, sometimes a lack of health certificates and no check on any breeding or bloodlines. Are we a commodity, to be sold and bought in the same way as traders sell wheat, coal or motor cars? As sentient creatures, should there not be a more respectful and measured approach to us. I know that there are some people who look after us, breeders who make sure that they see where we will go, ensure we will be looked after and keep in touch for further questions.

People are at home for far longer than they used to be and crave company to combat their lack of social mobility. What happens when, or if, the virus is controlled a little and people start to carefully return to their places of work. What is to happen to the many pets who have been purchased and who may be left alone at home, almost fending for themselves with no walks, interaction with their humans and losing the regimentation of a regular daily life? I fear that a large number will merely be surrendered to a rescue centre, or shelter whose facilities will become bursting at the seams with the influx. I hope I am wrong, I really do.

Then we turn to the dreaded “C” word. Not Covid, but Christmas! How far will “pester power” stretch this year? How many dogs will be introduced to a new home with all the noise and joviality going on around us. Sitting there bewildered by this new place, the brightly coloured surroundings and not knowing what to do, how to interact and feeling completely confused with it all. The novelty often wears off quicker than a Christmas Day dinner and we look for some guidance and interaction to make us feel wanted and loved. Maybe this year should be the time for people to do their homework before bringing us into a new home. Speak to a rescue centre, ask what would be the best dog to suit the human and canine needs and then see if there is an unwanted dog at the rescue or shelter. I was a Christmas rescue dog, my parents did their homework as far as they could, they spoke to the rescue centre, saw me three times, walked me on each occasion, asked questions and thought about me for about three weeks before I came home. I was, and remain, lucky because they persevered with me despite some difficult early months for us all. People will say “oh but the rescue centres and rehoming centres aren’t allowing visits” which is often times true at the moment. That doesn’t stop them from researching our traits, which would be the best type of dog to get and then ask more questions.

Maybe what I am saying is this. Instead of “What will happen when the novelty wears off” it should be “Don’t let us be a novelty in the first place”. We are a serious and timely commitment. We will love you, play fetch, sleep in strange places, make you smile and be your best friend. However we will also make you sad when we have accidents, fall ill, run off on a walk and need you to take us to the vet and clean up after us. This applies to puppies who have their whole life ahead of them as well as older dogs who want only to have their years of dotage in a warm comfy place with gentle ear tickles and soft cuddles.

Are people ready for that? If not, then think really carefully about our suitability.