My Dog

Last June I popped over to Barbados to see my son … like you do!!

He had an apartment in a home that belonged to someone who helped run a rescue home for dogs.

Consequently when I got there, there was Josie, a pitball-cross who followed my son around everywhere and lay on the mat in the sitting room when my son sat at his desk, which overlooked the atlantic ocean with the sounds of the sea lapping the shore just feet away. An idealic place!

Josie had some form of excema and I had brought some Neem products out for her. She didn’t appreciate being shampooed with the stuff and kept well away from me afterwards and promptly rolled in some nasty fox poo in retaliation! But the treatment worked. The neem products, not the fox poo!

Then in the yard at the side of the house penned in for their safety were 4 darling puppies that had been abandoned on the beach.

Upstairs in Laura’s apartment were 3 other dogs.

No this was not the rescue home itself, the actual home was full and Laura brought some dogs home with her.

In the evening Scarlet and Scar Face two elderly dogs would wander up from the beach and sleep on the veranda. They were characters and muched loved by the people there and even featured in the local hotel’s brochure.

I became an animal lover overnight! I hugged and cuddled Hannah, one of the puppies and looked pleadingly at my husband with big doe eyes: please?

Naturally it was impossible not because of the huge cost and quarantine but because Hannah was part pit-bull.

When we got back to the UK, I spoke to a friend of mine who has two rescue dogs about the feasibility of me owning a dog. With CFS/ME, I thought it would be ridiculous – how could I take it for a walk every day?

I was totally amazed when she said: “The perfect dog for you would be a Lurcher, they are lazy and when you do take them for a walk you can let them off the lead and they go haring off! You can sit on a log and read a book!!”

So I looked at our local rescue dog home and lo and behold there was this Lurcher Cross and I was hooked.

I showed my husband who was also agreeable to me having a dog and agreeable to taking it for a walk if I couldn’t! Essential to have some support if not from family then from neighbours and friends.

I rang the home and ‘Ginger’ was still available and we went to visit her. The poor thing looked clean but bedraggled and so needed me! So did all the other dogs!!

We were interviewed and although I explained my illness they weren’t really that concerned and then they came to check our home was secure. They were more than happy.

We have renamed her Lady mainly because our local lovable town tramp was called Ginger and this little lady dog is just that, a Lady she is just missing her twinset and pearls.

It is true, she loves to sleep about 15 hours a day. She loves to run and run and run. She loves other dogs to play with and unbelievably she loves me.

We did take her for training but the training was more for me than her. She was picked up as a stray in Ireland and didn’t have any idea of ‘sit’ ‘down’ or ‘stay’. She is better now and will sort of sit and will sort of lie down. She understands ‘wait’ better than stay and is excellent at that.

She came with terrible sores which the vet couldn’t really cure but mange was ruled out. I have put her on a hypoallergenic diet of only chicken, lamb or turkey and I use targetes or tea-tree essential oils when I shower her or de-flea her. Her worming tablets are olive leaf capsules.

She looks beautiful now, her fur has grown back where she had been bald.

At this moment she is lying on her mat beside me while I tap away on my laptop. She is waiting to go for a walk. She lives in hope and is so forgiving if I can’t take her.

We have recently moved and whereas the old house was secure and she couldn’t get out of the garden, this house isn’t. We back on to a wooded area and it is impossible to secure. So I have to tie her to a long line where she can still run around and get some exercise.

She isn’t very good at recall. I do try with pieces of chicken in my pocket. I can only use chicken because she comes out in sores if I use anything else.

A few days ago I was walking home when a neighbour stopped me and looking at the dog lead in my hand said: “Where is your dog?”

“Quite!” I said. “She got the scent of something and that was it, she was off!”

“O” and then: “I have got a dog whistle and mine seems to respond very well to that.”

“I may try that” I grinned and said: “She will be waiting for me at home no doubt, but will she have raided Anna’s bins again?”

(Poor Anna had to return my dog when for the umpteenth time Lady had flattened and squirmed herself under their low gate to raid some bins. This is why Lady is tied to a line when she goes outside! If she can escape to the woods with all the delicious aromas, she will!)

“Ah!” she said, “Get the whistle!”

Sure enough when I got home, there was Lady giving me that look as if to say, ‘where have you been all this time?’

She is wonderful company. I feel so secure at night when my husband is away, knowing that she is downstairs.

There are times when I feel guilty because she hasn’t been for a walk or she needs a shower or I haven’t the energy to even say hello to her but she is so forgiving. She is not neglected she is fed twice a day and her bed is big, soft, warm, clean and comfortable.

If I am bad we sleep together in the lounge and sometimes she is even interested in what is on the TV! She can be so funny and it is good for me to have something else to think about during the day. Before Lady, I hardly went out, with Lady I do get far more exercise than I did.

I have discovered that you have to be firm with dogs. No is NO. I have also found that you don’t have to shout and the quieter the command the better. Ignoring is excellent, ignore bad behaviour. Praise is wonderful, they need LOADS of ‘good girl’. She is not sure of the vacuum cleaner, so I say or have told my cleaner to say: ‘good girl’ half a dozen times and she calms down and doesn’t panic.

Lurchers along with greyhounds and whippets are dessert dogs. They have thin legs to cope with the sand. They feel the cold and love the heat. They need a soft bed. So if the weather is very cold, they may need a coat.

I would never have thought of a Lurcher if my friend had not suggested it. But they are the perfect pet. Sensitive, so intelligent and so sweet and caring. A truly lovely animal. I love her.

I would enclose some photos of her but I am having real problems with downsizing the photos. I can make them smaller, I just can’t find a facility to save and keep them in that small size for me to upload. If anyone knows how, please tell me!

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