Rescues, Rehomes & Fosters – Mo’s Story
I have no qualifications related to canine care or behaviour. I was born into a farming family and have been surrounded by a variety of animals since I was born. Let’s just say I learned on the job!
The ‘rescue’ gene was inherited from my Mother who was a collector of waifs and strays. When she went into our local market town to do her weekly shop (1950s), she was as likely to come home with a parrot as she was to bring home half a pound of boiled ham!
She took a monkey from a street photographer because she thought it was cruel, and ‘Bimbo’ lived with us for three years until a particularly harsh Scottish winter finished him off – in spite of the many jackets she had knitted for him and his bed beside the Rayburn.
Next was a cockatoo who lived in a barbers shop and was going to be ‘got rid of’ because some of the customers had taught him to swear, and this offended ladies who were passing the shop. The cockatoo lasted until he was 90 and outlived my Mum by a considerable number of years.
A calf, which literally fell off the back of a lorry at the bottom of our drive, two goats who were on their way to the butchers, a family of peacocks who were keeping the neighbouring village awake with their distinctive calls. All these were rescued and housed with us, her long suffering family. We could have been a Scottish version of the Durrells – minus the glorious Mediterranean sunshine!
Anyway, the article is not supposed to be about this,so here is my rather pedestrian (in comparison) record of my rescues and fosters…
My first ETT, Polly, bought in 2002, was my introduction to the breed after a lifetime of owning GSPs. I have always been attracted to sleek, short haired dog breeds, so an ETT was the perfect ‘downsize’.
Polly was a delight and lived till just short of her 16th birthday. She was easy to train, well behaved, not a barker or early riser and never showed any sign of separation anxiety – all in all – perfect.
My next girl was Lizzy, she was a stunning dog who was entrusted to me when her show career ended. She was a gem in every way. All she wanted was to be by my side. Loved her to bits. Another perfect dog.
Polly in old age and Lizzy
Firstly there is Jessie, a pretty dog whom I collected privately from Northampton. She is the boss lady and keeps the boys in order, she is now coming up to eight years old and is a delight, although a bit of an early riser! Once she is up, everyone else is expected to follow suit. I’ve never managed to have a long lie in beyond 7.00 am since I got her – be warned – at birth, most ETT pups are fitted with the finest of Swiss chronometers which can tell the difference between BST and GMT! You will be lucky if you get one who sleeps late. Jessie settled in very quickly and became a ‘Velcro’ dog straight away.
Jessie the pin up girl
Mr Tubbs is next. I went to Lincolnshire for him after a message from someone who had seen one of my articles. House training had become a desperate issue. He is the tiniest of my ETTs. I think he is now about 4 years old but have no papers for him and don’t know any history. He’s an exuberant ‘teenager’ who just throws himself onto your lap even though he may be landing on another dogs head! It took about 6 months to get him to toilet correctly (still wouldn’t trust him with floor length curtains though, so he is banned from the dining room)!
Mr Tubbs looking angelic!
Dibley & Ozzy
I then fostered two little boys. Dibley and Ozzy. It was over a Christmas and New Year period. They were not thriving in kennels whilst their owners were abroad on an extended holiday. They had lost a lot of weight and I had real trouble getting them to eat anything. Thankfully, because it was Christmas time I could buy pigs in blankets – success! Not the healthiest balanced diet, but it got the weight back on them. The eldest of the two is sadly no longer with us, but Ozzy has found a wonderful new home with Daniel and Chris, firstly in Edinburgh and now Germany. A real little globetrotter who is treated like royalty.
After that came Rufus, a gentle, ten year old big boy who seemed to not be able to find a home where he could settle. I was meant to be fostering for a few weeks but guess what? I fell in love with him so he is now a permanent member of the pack!
My final rescue ( for now) is Ollie. He is the elder statesman at thirteen years of age and came in stages from Wales to N Yorkshire during the very early days of lockdown in March. I drove to Manchester to pick him up on the last stage of his journey. It must have looked like the dodgiest transaction ever. I drove into a deserted service station, the lady who was helping bring him from Wales pulled in a little while later about 10 feet from my car. We both had a quick chat and handed me Ollie on an extending lead. Pleasantries done, I popped him in the car and set off home to North Yorkshire.
On the whole journey to Manchester and back I must have seen 20 cars in total! There were quite a few police cars out and about and I fully expected to be pulled over. I obviously looked so trustworthy that they didn’t bother with me (anyone in need of a getaway driver after a robbery – I’m your woman).
Ollie has been the most challenging up until now. I’ve had him for eleven months and he still doesn’t like to be picked up and held on a lap. His favourite thing is to lie in his bed where he can watch me and, when the mood takes him, he walks over to me for an ear rub and a back scratch. He is at least wagging his tail now. It’s all progress. It’s all about what the dog needs, not what I want. The longer I have him the better it will get.
It’s not always easy. Be patient, praise them outrageously when they have done the right thing and just take a deep breath when they don’t.
I have heard many stories of owners taking their new dogs out for a walk and letting them off the leash within a few hours or days of ownership. They will be disorientated and just may run, give it plenty of time. Better to keep them on a leash than to lose them.
The only advice I can give is be patient, be consistent, give praise whenever they do well and realise it might not be a quick fix. If you have the time and commitment it’s such a worthwhile thing to do.
Many good people have done much more than I have, but I just thought that in these difficult times a good luck story could be just what we all need to cheer us up!
On a final note. I may not have rescued as many exotics as my Mother, but two years ago I went to an auction to buy some garden statues and ended up coming home with a Messerschmitt bubble car. Who said apples don’t fall far from the tree! Watch this space!
Raising Funds for Welfare
Mo created a series of greetings cards and prints – read more about her artwork below.
All profits go to the English Toy Terrier Welfare fund.
An International collaboration: When a Photographer from Norway and a Painter from England get together to produce stunning English Toy Terrier prints and cards.