Posts Tagged ‘Labrador Rescue’

Annie the Labrador with two toys in her mouth

A bit blurred because she wouldn’t keep still long enough.

This will be Annie’s fourth Christmas with us. The drama that surrounded her arrival is still so vivid in my mind that it seems hard to believe it was more than three and a half years ago.

The shut down, terrified, flea ridden dog that wouldn’t come out from under the dining table for three days is thankfully, nowhere to be seen these days. To say that she’s blossomed is an understatement of grand proportions.

The real Annie was in evidence yesterday as my mother arrived for Christmas. The dogs excitement was so off the scale that I have thought about not giving them their Christmas treats this year but instead sticking a bow on ‘grandma’ as by all accounts she’s all the present they need.

To see Annie take her new soft toy then steal Little Bear’s too and refuse all of his attempts to take it back was such a joy.  That she was enjoying her new gift was obvious by the frantic wagging, but to us it was a sign of just how far this girl has come.  There was a time not so long ago when she’d only take a toy to please you, but obviously had no idea what to do with it.

As Dog Rescues all over the country brace themselves for the influx of the Christmas puppies that will, with depressing predictability, be dumped upon them in the weeks and months ahead, I hope anyone looking for a dog will first consider a rescue. A dog like our Annie who far from being broken, just needed a chance to be loved.

Annie the Labrador with her new toy.

And so to bed. Annie and her new toy.


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Annie in her beloved bed

Annie in her beloved bed

When we took on Annie her first bed was a folded quilt under the dining table which was her bolt hole of choice after her ordeal.  She soon discovered the delights of the sofas and as we were only fostering her at that point it seemed fine to let it go.

When we adopted her, we bought her a bed.  It felt symbolic, a way to mark her joining the family officially and after months of being squashed between two dogs on the sofa of an evening, the idea of them sleeping in their own beds was appealing.

So we went to the pet shop and she picked out a bed. Or rather, we bought the only one she seemed vaguely interested in.  It was stupidly expensive, but I justified it on the basis that all the bits came apart for machine washing.  “She’ll have it for years” I confidently told Other Half as he scoffed at the price tag.   It fell apart in the first wash.

We got a refund and decided to get her a sturdy plastic bed that we could fill with soft (and washable) blankets instead. Then came her surgery so ‘bed’ became a crate for almost 12 weeks while she healed. When at last the crate was packed away, we put the new bed in its place.  She ignored it.  She’d sit in it occasionally, as did Little Bear and now and then, Camden Cat. She’d even lay down in it if we asked, but you always got the feeling that she was doing it under sufferance.

Impulse buy

A couple of weeks ago I saw a bed I just knew she’d love. I was only in the pet shop to buy cat treats. She didn’t need a bed I told myself, she had two sofas and two arm chairs to choose from for crying out loud. I left the shop and walked to the car. I opened it and locked it again before even taking the key out of the lock.  Minutes later me and the new bed were heading home.

LB was incredibly excited.  He dug out the inner pillow within seconds and then promptly chewed off the tag putting pay to any ideas of returning it, but  he quickly got bored and wandered off to find a tennis ball while Annie, unusually aloof gave the new bed the eye.

I love my bed

That was a few weeks ago now and she’s very rarely out of it. She loves her bed so much she’ll lie in it no matter where it is. She’s even choosing her bed over the sofa. I have some theories of course. Maybe she likes having somewhere that’s entirely hers. The sofas after all are shared and she can and does get turfed off them if there’s no room for anyone else to sit down.  Or maybe it’s just the fact that it’s comfortable. We’ll never know for sure, but she certainly does look like one very happy dog!

Annie snoozing in her new bed

Annie snoozing in her new bed

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Our school motto was ‘Manners maketh man’. Now I didn’t go to a posh private school, quite the opposite in fact, but we, my peers and I were brought up to understand that manners were important. They’re not just social norms, they’re a way of conveying respect for one another. Sadly, I often see far better behaved dogs than I do owners these days.

The other week we were walking the dogs on the large football pitch near the house. It’s a vast space with multiple exits so for reactive dogs like ours it’s great. You get plenty of warning of other dogs and can make a quick calm exit if needed.

We’d just arrived at the field this particular time when I noticed Annie had dropped her collar torch. It was getting dusk so OH back tracked to look for it. This left me in the field with both dogs on waist leads, which we prefer as it gives you two hands to sort out clickers, treats or poo bags. It started when Annie, much worse than she is now almost dislocated OH’s shoulder and now it’s sort of stuck.

Just as he went out of sight a woman came the field with two dogs and was soon joined by another lady with three dogs. Annie and Bear, until then doing okay with their sit stay and watch me got a little agitated so we moved to a safer distance.

They were walking directly towards us, all five dogs now her off lead. I moved down the field, zig-zagging to a spot I was sure was safe as it was off their trajectory. They changed direction and headed once again, straight towards us.

By this point Little Bear and Annie had had enough. They lunged, they barked and clipped around my waist, were doing a great job of cutting me in half. The women looked up to see what the commotion was, shot me a ‘god, your dogs are awful look’ AND KEPT COMING!

Now any normal person seeing that would recognise a fear reaction in a dog. Even if they’d never experienced it, who in their right mind would walk their own dogs towards dogs who are lunging and barking?!

I was incredulous. How could these women not realise that their presence and that of their mob of dogs was seriously upsetting mine? They had an entire football pitch to walk on but seemed intent on hounding me out of it. Thankfully, their dogs had more sense than they did and gave us a wide berth, but the damage was done. By the time OH returned a few minutes later they were extremely agitated and despite trying to lighten the mood with some chase once we were free of our stalkers, Little Bear walked home with his tail down.

I thought of this yesterday. We were out in the woods and spotted a couple with four dogs coming towards us on a narrow path. We called our dogs, they called theirs. We had them sit and wait. So did they to the point that for about a minute nobody moved.

When the stalemate became apparent we walked ours on past them, only to find their dogs sitting patiently just off the track. We exchanged a round of thank yous and all went on our way. To my deep joy our two looked but continued on their way without a murmur. I couldn’t have been prouder or more grateful that there do seem to be some owners out there with manners as good as their dogs.

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Annie & Little Bear

Annie & Little Bear

I’m not a fan of going out on New Year’s Eve. Of course, it was obligatory in my youth (god, how ancient do I sound?!) but it was usually marked by at least someone crying in the pub toilets, having a blazing row or otherwise getting morose.  Add to that the exhausting game of ‘dodge the midnight snogger’ those slobbery little creeps who think that midnight gives them carte blanche to pucker up to complete strangers and all in all it was as much fun as bathing a cat.  Thanks all the same, but I’ll be chilling at home tonight.

What I do love about New Year’s Eve is the chance to reflect on the departing year. I won’t be sorry to see the back of 2011 for numerous reasons, but dogwise, it’s certainly had it’s ups and downs.


It’s been a huge year for Annie for sure.  It started with the TPLO operation to repair her damaged cruciate ligament.  Then came the 12 weeks of crate rest.  It’s amazing how we forget the weeks of disturbed nights as she cried pitifully from her crate.  Getting up three, sometimes four times a night with her was normal for weeks.  Other Half and I were punch drunk from lack of proper sleep.

Then there were the four walks a day she needed to build up the leg muscles and the desperate attempts to avoid the sight of any other dogs for fear that her lunging would undo the surgeon’s hard work.

Annie post TPLO

Annie post TPLO

In May came the freak puncturing of her thigh muscle by the metal work in her leg and the 3am race to the emergency vet.  She’s been spayed this year too and had her first holiday; the disaster story I’m sure we’ll continue to dine out on for years to come. But she’s also made amazing progress.  After months of on-lead walking while her leg heeled and we plucked up the courage to trust her recall, she’s now a sight to behold as she bounds through the woods.

Annie's bionic leg

Annie's bionic leg

She can still be reactive on the lead, but she’s a total pussycat off-lead.  She’s even made some new doggie friends. To see her running with other dogs and initiating play with Little Bear is just amazing.

She’s even learned to retrieve a ball in the past few weeks, which just goes to prove that you don’t really see the whole dog for a long time after their adoption.

A particular highlight came in the shape of her award from Labrador Rescue South East and Central.

Little Bear 

Little Bear too has made amazing progress. We had a setback the other day, but the overall trend is a positive one. His reactivity is much reduced and that’s something I’m really proud of. If someone had told me this time last year that he’d be walking past screaming children, cyclists and other dogs without barking I’d have been amazed, but he’s doing all of that.

He also did really well at his agility lessons.  Again, being in a class with lots of other dogs isn’t something he could have done last year, but he coped brilliantly and even though he doesn’t take agility very seriously, he proved that he can make short work of all of the equipment despite the presence of lots of other dogs.  I’m not sure sitting on the top of the A Frame for a rest is in the rule book, but he certainly enjoyed being the class clown.

Little Bear goes swimming

Little Bear goes swimming (well, nearly..)

He also learned to swim, an achievement of the highest order given his complete terror of the pool on his first lesson. He’s not up to the backstroke just yet, but we’ll be starting lessons again in the Spring so that he can pick up where he left off.


So here comes 2012.  I could fill pages with all the things I’d like to do with them, but I’ll restrain myself. I’m immensely proud of my dogs and plan to spend as much time as possible enjoying their company and helping them overcome their fears in 2012. For that opportunity I feel really blessed.  Happy 2012 everyone.

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