Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Adopting Charlie

Our family has always been a 'doggy' one, I have strong, 'smelly' memories of the dog we had when I was tiny, before my father died - he was a rather portly Spaniel, by the name of Scallywag! I have no pictures of Scally, but one of the few pictures I have of my father is of him in his Merchant navy uniform, with his dog on his lap.  We had a dogless gap after my father died, we were very broke, and my mother struggled to provide for herself, my baby sister and myself, never mind a dog!  I help us acquire a terrier when I was about 10/11, a very intelligent little dog who my mother taught to do many useful things! She would have made a great support dog for a person with disabilities in this more enlightened age.  At about the same time we started doing a bit of fostering for the RSPCA, including a starved Guinea pig collected one Christmas Eve, to be cared for over the holiday, who finally died in our care nearly 8 years later!
I had various other animals as I grew up, but have few pictures of them, the cat in the above picture was Minou, a black cat rescued from the 'care' of some lads in one of my mother's bedsits when I was 23 and passed to my care. She went though many moves and traumas with me and my children, dominating both any dogs that came into the family, and my children! She finally died at the age of 19, with the collie in the picture (Mutt) and a black Labcross (Tara) still firmly under her paw to the last.

Mutt was an Orkney collie, a working dog acquired while I lived there, at the urging of my eldest daughter! She was an amazing dog, intelligent and loving, and, as you can se from this picture, totally devoted to my husband, who was far more enamoured of Mutt than me! At about the same time we had a little terrier, bought from some travellers as a puppy, slim and elegant in her movements, we called her 'Lady", a gross misnomer, as she would more appropriately have been named 'Anybodies'!
Lady & Mutt both passed on in their turn, as did Tara, who had also been an addition via my eldest daughter! When Tara passed on, all our children had left home, and we went dogless for several months, but eventually realised that we felt bereft, and went to the Dogs Trust near Shrewsbury, explaining that we needed a small, adaptable dog, as we lived in a motorhome and travelled alot, because of my husband's work.  There was alot of umming and ahhing, saying that they didn't often get small dogs in, let alone young ones, but to leave our contact details. A young dog came in the very next day! Picked up by the police after moving some travellers on from a site in Manchester, they had named her 'Gypsy' - she seemed fated to be ours, and we picked her up almost immediately. We knew her as 'Sioni', short for Sioned, the Welsh version of 'Janet".  That was in 1999, and she finally left us this summer, having brought us 13 years of companionship and entertainment, comfort and challenge.
This was Sioni just after we got her, sleek and black, bright as a button!
And this was Sioni shortly before she died in June, grizzled and a little portly, but blissed out!  During Sioni's life we also, briefly had a retired racing Greyhound, whom we called Ioan (Welsh version of John) and who was a delight and a challenge!
When Ioan came to us he had only known kennel life, stairs and traffic were a terrifying new challenge! I had never before had a greyhound, and was enchanted by his gentleness and loving nature, I miss him still.
Sadly, in 2007 I destroyed my right elbow completely, leaving me quite unable to manage a large and unpredictable dog like Ioan ( he was scared of his own shadow, bless him, and inclined to suddenly leap off!)  After Sioni died, we thought that, maybe, I could at alst indulge my tearning for a chihuahua, having loved them since 'dog sitting' a delightful pair when I was in my 20s, so we made an appointment to go and see a litter of pups. Fate had other plans, as it so often does! Our landlord's sister in law fosters for the RSPCA, on a rather larger scale than we did! They had a young Schi Tzu/Poodle cross brought in who had already been in more than one whom, and had been passed to the RSPCA as a biter, would I give her a chance, see if we could sort her out? If not, she would be put down. Had to give her a chance, the appointment with puppies was cancelled, and Peta came into our life.

To cut a long story short, Peta was pretty and charming, except that she would turn without any warning and sink very sharp teeth into you!  We tried for 3 months, but she just got more and more determined to embed her teeth into us - and anyone else she felt like, with no warning whatsoever.  reluctantly, with many tears, we returned her to the RSPCA, knowing what her fate was likely to be, but also knowing she could never be safe in a domestic environment.
Rest in peace, little Peta.  After that experience, we were very reluctant to take on another dog in a hurry, if ever, and decided to give ourselves space to enjoy each other's company, and do the kind of things it's hard to do with a dog in tow.  That was until lastSaturday, 3rd November, when we went for a walk on the beach at Burnham on Sea, which is a regular treat for us! The beach was full of dogs, and reminded us of how much more one shares in when walking with a dog!  So, we decided we would open ourselves to the possibility of another dog - let life lead us.  On Monday, as I surfed my Twitter stream, I read a ReTweet from a lady I follow, who rarely RT's other peiple's tweets. It was a picture of a little Yorkshire Terrier, posted by an animal rescue centre in south Wales, simply saying 'I need a home'.  Charlie was calling us.
Poor little Charlie is 12 years old, and has lost his elderly mistress, so he's been 'widowed', and his world has turned upside down.  His mistress obviously struggled to care for him towards the end, and he hasn't had much exercise for awhile - as for his diet, I dread to think what he was eating towards the end of his mistress's life, cos he's quite tubby! However, he has a very sweet nature, and knows what's good for him - none of this processed rubbish, please! His choice is a little lean meat with fresh fruit and vegetables, so he'll soon be a healthier little chap!
Although his legs are weak and a bit wobbly, he's keen to explore a wider world, so walks are 'little and often' and his new territory is being thoroughly marked and investigated - and the resident yellow Lab, belonging to our landlord, has already been told to mind his Ps & Qs! His coat is very thin, so I've knitted him a jumper for chilly days, and the vet has checked him over and cleaned up his nether regions for him, so he's good to go! Onwards and upwards, Charlie!