Perseverance makes a good dog owner...
|It was a cold,crisp but bright January Saturday in 2002, as we drove up the hilly, leafy lane that leads to the dog's home; a place where unwanted dogs have to wait and wonder if anyone will rescue them, give them a loving home, and take care of them.
We already had a Springer Spaniel called Holly, but felt it was possible to welcome another pet into the household, and give her a playmate.
We had been looking for a Labrador, but the only dog at the kennels was another Springer Spaniel; 18 months old and very lonely, rather smelly and needing a lot of love.
We could hear her barking in the compound and as we got nearer to the large concreted and 'bare essentials' kennel, we spotted a very shaky,
frightened - looking dog. My husband's soft heart melted, and within the hour we were able to take her home.
We were told her name was 'Birch' and that was just fine with us, because it so fitted in with 'Holly!'
Birch had been extremely mistreated by her previous owners and had become a very frightened dog, acquiring a number of vices that needed to be addressed! Of course, none of these are written down before you accept a dog as they are only discovered as the relationship grows!
For the first few weeks I truly thought of giving up! She was such a handful!
One of the first incidents was finding her sitting on top of the kitchen unit looking out of the kitchen window, and then, on realising she had been spotted, proceeded to knock all the pot plants and 'whatnot's' off the window sill! Total mayhem!
My kitchen is a place where hygiene counts, and I was thoroughly mortified and, excusing the pun; barking mad!
Every time we went out of the back door - even if it was only to go into the garden, we had to watch her like a hawk! She would eat, steal and catch anything that moved...including the hens!
I had decided to make doughnuts! Very rarely do I get around to baking, but on this day, I had found a free slot in my routine and so, after they had been made, I placed them on a plate in the centre of the table to cool. Within minutes of returning to the kitchen, every doughnut (all six of them!), down to the last little sugar crumb, had disappeared...into Birch's tummy! Yummy!
Oh, and there was the time where I had left a pot of cold frying fat on top of the unit
and on going to use it, found the fat had vanished! Never! She couldn't have!
She did? Yeah, she did! Birch had drunk every last drop, only to re-introduce it some time later on the lounge carpet!
Slowly, I started to build up a bond with her, although there was a love/hate relationship for a while, because I had no idea the psychological problems this dog had developed over her 18 months of life, and there were some tough moments where I was at the end of my rope! She was truly, a canine delinquent!
As she began to settle in, we realised that she was beginning to show signs of becoming a very beautiful dog. As time went on her vices started to go and her virtue began to shine through.
Today, four years later, we would not be without her. She loves her walks, enjoys company with 'Aunty Holly', tolerates our twenty year old cat, and just craves affection! She will sit up on our knee like a 'wee pooch' looking as though she would be quite at home with a diaper, baby bonnet and soother to suck! She tucks her head under our chin and will cuddle up as long as she is allowed.
As for those early vices: they are all away and I am really glad I stuck it out. Because of my husband's perseverance and care, he taught me that patience is a virtue and that it can pay back in great reward!
Sometimes we need to give that extra time to work with rescue dogs, for most of them will have a vice or two which can be addressed and worked on by simple love and care.... but with a lot of patience mixed in! Don't ever be put off by giving a new home to an animal that has been rejected and left homeless, but please be aware that you will need to be willing to put up with a lot of hard work for a while. Some habits do die hard!
I will never understand why there is so much cruelty to animals; in fact to anyone!
All some folk have in this life are pets to love, so we need to give them place too. Whatever the pet, they can give a home so much love and affection.
Oh by the way, one last thing! If you can invisage a Springer Spaniel that looks like Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars, then you have just given yourself a great virtual photo of Birch!