Sunday, 22 March 2009

So where the hell have we been..? (Take 2)

Have finally updated the website today after an even longer lapse than last time... Same old, same old... have been horribly busy with the day job.

We are, in truth, not taking very many dogs at the moment because of this, but of course the ones we are taking are crackers... (in a good way, not a mad-as-a-bag-of-snakes way). Cruelty case Jet arrived with us last week and is currently residing at BRX HQ - a resilient young girl who is amazingly trusting given her history (what little of it we know). Just down the road from us we have lookalike Max, a less resilient youngster who is still looking for his forever home as we rehomed him to a family where he is an only dog when it turns out this lad needs the company of another dog to give him confidence. He's not a real scaredy-cat - but he does get a little anxious and clingy on his own and would undoubtedly be happier with another four-legged companion. Coming in soon is Nero, a very handsome chap from West Cork who is a classic black retriever x - fun and boisterous with it.

Who else? Ah yes, the gorgeous Ryan - another looker who I am feeling very guilty about. Ryan arrived in December and is being fostered by Sheila near Heathrow. It's not often our foster homes end up having a dog for so long (honest!), but what with my being so busy, poor Sheila still has this boy three months on. Hopefully, with the new pictures showing what a stunner he is, he will be snapped up soon.

Finally, we still have Jake with us.. and he may end up being a permanent member of the family as we're making ridiculous demands about what kind of home he goes to. He has almost the perfect life here: large garden, other dogs to play with, huge walks on Salisbury Plain every day (that's him at the top and, below, with our Boz) and I confess he gets to sleep on the bed (the only one of the gang who does, although Tickle sometimes sneaks on for a while). Not quite sure how Jake gets away with it as he's huge. Fortunately, it's Jon he tends to push out of bed. But there is one way in which Jake's life is not quite perfect - and that is that he has to share me with a lot of other dogs. If a home came up that could offer Jake what he has here, plus a bit more individual attention, I would give the big fella a huge hug and send him on his way.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

So where the hell have we been...?

Today, I managed to update the website for the first time in two months and there's some terrific new dogs looking for new homes. So why the apparent lack of activity? In fact, the rescue has been pretty busy but I've had no time to update the website because I've been so flat out with my day job as a film-maker, particularly with our latest documentary, Pedigree Dogs Exposed, which aired on BBC1 on August 19th, to five million viewers and quite a bit of fuss.

At the moment, I'm on Anglesey taking a few days out. The weather is dreadful so the dogs and I have the beaches to ourself, and to be honest it's bliss... I have with me Boz, Tickle and Jake who think they have died and gone to heaven. Boz thinks seagulls are flying rabbits and he spends so much time chasing them I am having to shovel food into him - to little avail as he's such a naturally skinny boy.

One of the rescue cases we've been busy with is Gemma, a little lady we rescued from Dunboyne pound in Ireland last year. We rehomed Gemma some months ago to a home in Cheshire where all seemed fine. But a couple of months ago, her new mum got back in touch to say she was having problems with her. Gemma was becoming increasingly unpredictable, aggressive even. We're not quite sure what had gone wrong - but the situation appeared to be so serious that there was even talk of putting Gemma to sleep.

We asked Paula Summers a behaviourist from Merseyside to assess Gemma for us and she reckoned that in a different home, Gemma would flourish. So two weeks ago, we moved Gemma to a foster home in Somerset where she proved a real star - getting on wonderfully with the three resident dogs. There was a bit of attention-seeking barking - soon nipped in the bud by foster mum Kerry - and, er, she ate the sofa when left one day. But other than that, she was fine - a really sweet, very affectionate girlie.

So it was with some confidence that last Thursday I dropped her off with Anna and Andy, a lovely couple who live in an idyllic stone cottage on Anglesey with their two dogs, Millie, a gorgeous rescue Belgian Shepherd and Robbie - a truly amazing 20-yr-old mixed breed still going strong (hybrid vigour, you see...) So far so good - and we all met up on Sunday for a walk along the sand dunes. Gemma's eyes were simply sparkling. Lovely to see. And to think this girl could have been put to sleep.

Now you behave yourself, Gemma and do us all proud.

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Tangle's web

I was up filming at Manchester Dog Show last weekend when I got a call from Maura, who runs an Irish rescue, asking for our help. Maura had sent Tangle, an oldie, over to another UK rescue who had placed him in a home with an elderly owner. But 24 hours after Tangle arrived, his new owner was on the phone complaining that he didn't bark when someone came to the door. Then a couple of days later, she rang to say the dog was vicious. Apparently he'd tried to bite first her and then the vet.

Maura was really upset. She'd saved Tangle (above) from being put to sleep in a local pound (after his owners, who had taken the dog in as a stray five years previously, decided to move back to Germany without him). Tangle had shown no hint of aggression in the five weeks he had been with Maura and had got on famously with her other dogs. It sounded like he must have been traumatised by the trip over (it's rare but it happens). Now, the UK rescue wanted to put him on the next van back to Ireland. No one wants to be landed with an aggressive dog and we rely on the Irish rescues to filter out those with real problems. But poor boy. Something had clearly gone very wrong and my heart went out to him.

I said I would help and managed to get Tangle into local kennels until I got back from Manchester on Monday. Promisingly, the kennels reported that he was no bother and when I went to see him on Tuesday, I was met by a total sweetie. Deaf as a post, though - which explains why he proved to be a rubbish guard dog.

We were warned that he would bite if you touched his ears or feet. But he's been totally fine with us and, indeed, enjoys having his ears ruffled. Absolutely no reaction if you touch his feet, either. Yesterday, we took him out for a long walk with two of our dogs. He loved it and when we stopped and lay down on the grass, he came running back and showered us with kisses.

I have a passion for older dogs and Tangle is such a gent that I am sure we'll have no problems finding him a terrific home.

More about the old fella here

Sunday, 6 January 2008

A special appeal for Prince, the rottweiller-lite...

Just before Christmas, the newspapers reported that a rottweiller in Yorkshire killed a one-year-old baby. It's hard to imagine anything more awful than losing a child in this horrific way. It also further tarnishes the rottweiller's reputation, despite the fact that most rotties are as soft as butter.

We took on Prince last year, knowing he was a young springer/rottie mix. He was clearly such a divine, bright, soft dog and we felt deperately sorry for him. He had once been much-loved, but after a family split-up, he was stuck in a flat in town with a relative who didn't walk him. Prince was very sad - and in danger of being given away to travellers, as the other family dogs had been.

So Prince arrived a few weeks ago, and went into foster with wonderful foster mum Moira and her flatcoat Ellie in High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire. As he was so terrific (and looks just like a very fit labrador) we thought he'd quickly find his forever home. But there was a hitch: Prince is a sensitive boy and was shaken by the transport over. He arrived very scared. And when Prince is scared, he growls. Five weeks on, Prince has his confidence back. There is still the occasional rumble indoors when he meets someone new for the first time, but outdoors he's fantastic: brilliant on a lead, terrific recall, great with other dogs and friendly with anyone he meets. It's only when confined that there's any problem and we are confident that this will resolve completely soon. (Prince lived in Ireland with several boisterous young children who hung off his ears and he was totally bomb-proof with them.)

Foster mum Moira has worked wonders with Prince and has total confidence in him. But other commitments mean she cannot keep him for much longer and we're now faced with the awful prospect of putting Prince in kennels, which we know he'd find so traumatic.

Many of our retriever homes are put off by his ancestry, but we know there's someone out there who would adore Prince and could offer him the home he needs. Our behavioursit Lez (a retriever gal herself) thinks he is completely stunning and has offered her ongoing support to anyone who takes Prince on. Lez does competition obedience and says that Prince would be brilliant. But he'd also make a wonderfully loyal, loving family pet for the right person. And, really, because he's so perfect in every other way, he's not a big project.

Is there anyone who could offer Prince a lifeline - either as a foster or a forever home? And if you can't, can I ask you all to put the word out for this gorgeous boy who simply needs a bit of love and understanding to fulfil his immense potential?

Thank you!

Friday, 21 December 2007

Where there's a will...

..there's a way and, da-daaaaaa, we did it! In the past two weeks, we've managed to save every dog we hoped to and all except for young Gemma, who cannot travel until after Christmas anyway, are now in the UK and in foster homes. A huge and massive thank you to all who have helped - it's been really inspiring that so many of you responded to the Christmas Appeal, particularly those willing to open your hearts and homes to a rescue dog at this time of year.

It's good news all round, really, as we've managed to save Finn's tail (well I say "we" but it's entirely down to foster mum Jan who has been so diligent). Then there's lttle Gemma, who went sick when she came out of Dunboyne pound, but has now made a full recovery. Oh, and Tickle's cast is off and an x-ray reveals her leg has healed well. Above is a pic of her on Salisbury Plain yesterday morning on the dog's mammoth Christmas morning walk in the traditional pouring rain.... (That's a clump of dry grass in her mouth, not some unfortunate furry thing.)

So now to more important things. Who to wear the ridiculous Christmas hat this year...? Tickle refused. She doesn't think it's fair that she should be some kind of Christmas poster pup for Black Retriever X Rescue given that she is neither black nor a retriever. Boz (right) was willing enough but didn't really get into the Christmas spirit. ("Er... exactly why have you lifted a dog my size on to the window sill...?")

Maisie (left) gave it a shot despite protesting that she was way too posh (being a purebred flatcoat an' all although we don't tolerate any of that purebreds-are-superior nonsense round these parts). Luka, though, pulled off the impossible (below). He wore the stupid elf hat and still looked dignified.

Happy Christmas!

Sunday, 2 December 2007

The BRX Christmas Appeal

Christmas is a bloody awful time for dogs in Ireland as the whole rescue system grinds to a halt.

The rest of the year, it works like this: a stalwart band of volunteers, come rain or shine, go round the pounds, taking photos and posting on the internet descriptions of the dogs in danger. The UK rescues monitor the Irish rescue boards and make offers on dogs they think they can help. The Irish volunteers then get those dogs out of the pound and into foster homes and kennels, where the dogs are vaccinated and usually neutered.

The dogs that don't get offers and are not reclaimed are put to sleep and many thousands of young and healthy dogs die needlessly in Ireland every year. It is not usually out of meanness on the pound's part (although there certainly are awful pounds, with 100 per cent euthanasia records, that volunteers can't reach); it's often because they have to make room for the next raft of strays and surrenders coming in.

For the lucky dogs that get offers from UK rescues, there's a 10-day wait until they can travel to the UK on one of several transporters who tirelessly take the overnight ferry to Holyhead or Pembroke - a pretty grim journey at times. The UK rescues meet the transporters at various drop-off points, often at the crack of dawn at motorway service stations. It must look very suspicious, but of course for the lucky dogs it's the start of what will hopefully be a wonderful new life.

But at this time of year there's a problem: the transporters stop mid-December and don't start again until January, which means that there's a mad push now to get as many dogs as possible out of the pounds, foster homes and kennels. That way, there's still some small chance of survival for the dogs coming into the pounds over Christmas.

All of which is a very long way round of saying that I have offered on as many dogs as I can in the past couple of weeks. As a result, I have black retriever x's like Echo (top), Danny (right) and Henry (below) coming out of my ears - and nowhere for some of them to go.

They are all lovely. They all deserve a chance. And we could really do with some help. If you could offer a temporary refuge to one of them, you really will be helping to save a life. A donation towards kennelling costs (our only option if we can't find enough foster homes) would also be a huge help (and it's very easy and totally safe to donate via the PayPal button on the bottom left of our home page, here).

The Black Retriever X Rescue website is now getting an astonishing 6000 hits a month so I know there's a lot of you out there.

Thank you to all those who have supported us in the past year, particularly those of you who have opened your hearts and homes to one of our wonderful black retrievers. Very special dogs. Very special people.

Friday, 30 November 2007

Tickle gets the boot

It's wet and muddy and miserable and we've had a terrible time trying to keep Tickle's splinted leg and foot clean and dry. There are dog boots available but of course they're dog-foot shaped and Tickle's foot is currently encased in a straight-up-and-down cast. So how on earth to protect it?

The genius solution (if I may say so myself..) is a cut-down child's wellington boot - £3.99 a pair from Woolworths. If you get the right size, it simply wedges on with no other fastening required.

Tickle's leg is encased in vet-wrap, that amazing bandage that only sticks to itself. I have a spare roll of it, so can add or subtract it to ensure a good fit for the boot.

The red fleece, by the way, is made by Hotterdog. We don't approve of clothes for dogs. Oh no - not for our rufty-tufty beasts. We got this only as an alternative to an elizabethan collar which the vet wanted Tickle to wear to foil the little witch's attempts to remodel the top of the splint. Really. And if we've also brought her a black one, too, it's only so we have a spare.