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!