I'm lucky enough to be working from home, therefore it wouldn't be left alone for long stretches. Other advantages were that we have a secure garden, and overlook a park. There was no reason not to go ahead. We'd discussed puppies, but my heart told me that cute as they are, so many abandoned dogs were literally crying out for someone to take them home and love them. My family had rescued dogs in the past, and I knew how rewarding it could be.
I began searching the websites, and read about 100's of dogs. Many had been found as strays, and others were there because their owner had died or moved away. We knew one of them would be the new member of our family, but we couldn't rush it. It had to be right for us and the dog. We were attracted to many, but had to be practical. I suffer with my back and shoulder so it had to be a breed and size unlikely to pull too hard on the lead.
One day I saw a photo of a gorgeous little Lhasa Apso gazing into the camera with sad eyes. That was it. I fell in love with him instantly.
We drove to the kennels at top speed (keeping just within the speed limit) and after having an interview, were taken to see him.
He had part of one ear missing, likewise a tooth, but to us he was beautiful. He resembled a skinned rabbit as the staff had had to shave him, he was so badly matted. But soon he would be ours. We named him Bailey. (He hadn't been at the centre long, so a new name wasn't going to confuse him)
We had a house/garden check shortly afterwards, and a few days later we brought him home. The first signs of how nervous he was, was in the car. We'd been warned that this would take a lot of work, and the first few times he shook violently. I'm happy to say his favourite word (after walk) is now 'car.' He loves nothing more than sitting on my lap with his head out of the window.
Three years later I can't imagine being without him. He's stubborn, but adorable.
He's also featured in my debut novel 'The OMG Test.' Here he is called Buddy. The rest is purely fiction. I do not take Bailey out to stalk people in the park, nor do I call him 'Flowerpot.' Oh, ok, I admit I do call him that on occasion...Oh, and for every sale of the book I will be donating a percentage to dogs trust. The cover is in the process of being changed to feature their logo.
Anyway, we haven't regretted rescuing him for a second, and wish we could rescue them all. It's a great feeling. One of the worst is walking past all the others, and seeing the hope in their eyes. I cried a lot, knowing I was taking that hope away with each passing step.
We considered rescuing another, this time an older dog. We love the idea of giving one a loving home for the remainder of their life, and spoiling it. We now know Bailey wouldn't tolerate this though. We met another couple in the park, in the same position as us. We love going abroad, as they do, but refuse to put the dogs back in kennels. This wasn't an option given their backgrounds.
Over the course of a few months we slowly built up contact, both outside and in the houses. The dogs then had 'sleepovers' with each other. It was gradual, but we can now pack our suitcases safe in the knowledge that both dogs have a home from home. Bailey however, still doesn't exactly roll out the red carpet for his friend's arrival. He is very territorial. That said, he tolerates it, because he has no choice. There's no getting away from it, dogs are tying, and we do sometimes need to have some time away from them. We're lucky to have this arrangement because we don't have family close by who can help out and dog sit.
If anyone reading this is in two minds, please go along to your local rescue centre and have a chat with the staff. Dogs are such great company, and like me, you will get to know people through the dogs. We now even have conversations unrelated to our furry friends! You may not feel like walking in the rain or hail on cold winter mornings, but chances are you will meet someone to share a joke with...or like me, give me an idea for a character for a future book!
On the downside, nice handbags are replaced by poo bags. I've even been in a different country minus pooch, and pulled a stream of them out of my pocket. There's no escape...but I wouldn't have it any other way!
One more thing...If you're out walking and in a rush, do not ask anyone 'How are you?' If you have a few hours to spare go ahead, at your peril :-)
If you're thinking of rescuing a dog I'd love to hear from you. Also, if you've gone ahead and done it but it didn't turn out as well as you'd hoped. Please click on 'Comments' below, or go to 'View my full profile' and get the links to my Facebook and Twitter.
The day we first saw him at Dogs Trust- Kenilworth
First Christmas - 'This isn't what I wanted...Where's the rest?'
'I love my new home...holidays at the beach in Whitby!'