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!