What being a dog mummy has taught me…

My beautiful Lexi

My beautiful Lexi

In January of this year, the bf and I took the HUGE step of adopting a pooch of our very own. We found our little Lexi online as her family were splitting up so she needed a new home. The instant he saw a photo, the bf knew she was the one; he kept coming back to her profile over and over again until he finally took the step of making contact with her family.

As soon as we met her, I was also convinced; she was shy, her tail didn’t wag but she still climbed straight onto our laps for cuddles and had the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. Her eyes were and still are full of hope, trust and optimism; she really couldn’t have sold herself to us any better than she did. So we said we’d give her a new home and we haven’t looked back since.

When our baby girl first arrived home, she was understandably nervous, very clingy and couldn’t relax enough to fall asleep for any decent period of time. When we took her for walks, she’d stick to us like glue, unsure of what to do as if we might punish her. When we let her into the garden for toilet time she’d tremble like mad and refuse to go out there unless we both went out with her and proved that we weren’t going to lock her outside. It was difficult to watch and all we could do was give her love and time and hope that she’d settle in, luckily she did that just fine 🙂

Then she attacked a dog.

We thought it was a one-off and she’d been provoked. Then she did it again and then attempted it many more times; no real damage to the dogs but enough aggression to know she couldn’t be trusted with other dogs. It petrified me and I freaked out, I thought we’d made a mistake and that we couldn’t possibly handle looking after a dog like that. But we had to, we’d promised her we’d look after her and that meant we bloody well would. The bf, being much stronger and more mature than me just told me to stop being so dramatic and that we’d deal with it one way or another and we have.

These days, we walk Lexi on the lead – always. We don’t let her get near other dogs unless she has her muzzle on and we’re good at spotting which dogs are riling her up before she has a chance to get fully into that frame of mind. It’s not a perfect solution and we want to get beyond this, to the point where she ignores other dogs but it’s a good start and it means we can take her out in public with safety. It’s the opposite of what I wanted though, I wanted to have that dog that I could trust to trot along by my side with no problems at all. I wanted that perfection that the media shows you dog ownership should be but I was being stupid.

As I sit here writing this, Lexi is curled up with her head on my lap, snoozing soundly because she knows she’s safe and that I’ve got her back so she doesn’t need to stay alert. Every time I look at her face I smile and I feel a warm swell of pride at my core, because this loving beauty is ours and we’ve given her a home that’s allowed her to relax with us and do crazy things like go in the garden on her own. In return, she makes us laugh and smile every single day; even when we were on holiday without her, we spoke about her and her crazy facial expressions constantly and that made us giggle like children. When I was ill, she was my nurse laying by my side almost constantly for 3 solid days so I didn’t feel alone. Every time one of us comes into the house or down the stairs, she greets us with utter joy and excitement that makes us feel incredibly loved and wanted. She gives us everything and in return all she asks for is cuddles, (lots of cuddles) some food and some walks. What an absolute babe!

So, what have I learned from having Lexi? I’ve learned loads; I’ve learned that happiness really doesn’t cost the earth, I’ve learned that real achievements are about the relationships you build, not the things you buy. My ideas of what perfection would be are not always right, sometimes you find that what you were looking for is not what you really wanted. Compromise isn’t always a bad thing; my dog doesn’t trot by my side with no problems but she is more cuddly than any other dog I’ve met and she’s never once woken me in the night. That’s not bad as trade offs go! Biggest of all though, I’ve learned that I do have that “maternal” instinct that enables me to consider the needs of others above my own and love unconditionally. There’s not a thing that Lexi could do that would stop me loving her, she’s incredible and genuinely has a heart of gold.

Having Lexi has been a real awakening; she’s shaken up my life and I can’t thank her enough for it. Here’s to all the gorgeous souls in this world helping people like me every day! x

What does it mean to “rescue” a dog?

For anyone who doesn’t know me that well, one thing I can’t get enough of is dogs! It all started way back approximately 15 years ago when my parents brought home Winnie, our gorgeous Old English Mastiff puppy. Suddenly my previous fears about dogs evaporated as this cute puppy grew into a giant, slobbering, clumsy oaf with the biggest heart you could imagine. I realised that big dogs really aren’t scary and that I’m happy to just rub that slobber into my jeans rather than freaking out and screaming about the slime that just landed on me. My world was changed.

Winnie being abused by a party hat!

Since then, my lovely Princess Winnie has passed on and my parents have a new pooch in their lives, Rudi the Miniature Schnauzer who has featured on this blog before. Rudi really is the dog’s doo-dahs, he is just so cool! He’s got this great personality which really brightens up everybody’s day and nobody, I mean nobody who meets him fails to fall in love with his cute, beardy grin.

The dude that is Rudi!

My problem is that I don’t live at home any more so dogs pop in and out of my life only briefly and I’m always pining for the waggy tail and chew toys that are missing from my world. I have quite a hectic lifestyle, so for me a potentially good option would be to adopt an older dog; one who is a bit calmer and happy to spend chunks of time on their own without ripping the house to shreds. I’ve looked into this a few times but haven’t yet seen quite the dog for me; a lot of rescue dogs need extra attention due to a traumatic past whereas I need one who is happy with people and dogs from the get-go. What I have done though is spoken to a few rescue centres; initially this was great but recently it’s started to worry me…

I won’t name names but the most recent rescue I contacted really don’t seem to care about the dog I enquired about and I can’t imagine they’d be much different about other dogs. I rang up to check how this particular dog would be if left alone for a few hours at a time and also to understand more about how she is with other dogs (getting on with Rudi is essential). Well, I was told that the dog is living in a kennel centre at the moment and the rescuer really doesn’t know how she’d be if left alone but I could always put her in a crate. I was also told that they think she is ok with other dogs but again, this hasn’t really been tested. So then I asked about the rehoming process and was told that I’d need to go and visit the dog and so long as I liked her, that was pretty much it.

Now you may be wondering what my problem is; well, my problem is this: that dog has been overused for breeding in the past and then dumped. She’s had a hard life. Now, although she has been “rescued”, it seems that the rescue centre are happy to palm her off on anyone who wants her. How do they know my house is suitable and that I have open space for her to go out? How do they know that she will fit my lifestyle? Why don’t they care about my motivations for getting a dog? What about experience? This dog is a bull breed, she could seriously harm another dog if left alone and she turned; when are they going to mention this? Essentially, anyone could pick her up, take her home, mistreat her and then dump her again because actually she wasn’t the right dog for them. Thankfully other rescue centres have been much more thorough and conduct home checks, etc. and then follow up with you about the dog afterwards to make sure everything is ok.

So I am angry and this is my rant; I appreciate that this dog has been rescued from being put down at the pound but I question the point of doing that if she is later to be used and abused again. Surely the point of rescuing a dog is to improve their life, not just move them around, so the rescue centres need to do their best to get to know the dogs and their potential new owners as best they can to ensure this is the case. That’s all, just had to get it out of my system and I’m hoping this little lady is still there when I can visit in 2 weekends’ time! x

The Empty Space You Never Knew Was There

This gloriously long bank holiday weekend just gone, the bf and I were once again dog sitting, however this time it was not my parents’ delectable Miniature Schnauzer, it was a friend’s Beagle. Meet Harry:

Harry - Such a Handsome Boy!

Now I have to admit that compared to the Schnauzer, Harry was a handful. He jumped all over my furniture, left muddy paw prints on my leather sofa and left fur EVERYWHERE! (The Schnauzer doesn’t malt at all!) That’s not even mentioning the walk we went on with said Schnauzer when Harry disappeared into the woods for a good 10 minutes – just long enough to make my dad and I panic that we had really lost him. I could also mention his vile bottom activity, vomiting, stealing other dogs’ toys, keeping us awake at night…but you get the picture!

However, he was so happy to see us every time we entered a room; he snuggled into me on the sofa and generally looked so adorably cute at all times that he had a really calming effect on me. The Schnauzer also has the same effect – and he’s a puppy so has that cute puppy innocence going for him as well.

Both dogs get away with murder and thoroughly mess up my life whilst they’re here but they’re so worth it. As soon as they go I feel sad enough to cry, like someone has stolen part of my core being. It really makes me wonder how I get by day to day without a dog to lavish my affection on and how people live without animals in their lives.

So there it is; the empty space I never notice until its filled. Until I have a lifestyle that lets me fill it, I’ll just keep on dog-sitting as and when people are happy to let me. If you’ve never had a dog, I seriously suggest you go out there and spend some time with one, they are just awesome! x