March 2020 started a wave of new thinking and new behaviours in the human world. We banded together and began isolation as the Government advised we lockdown to help protect ourselves and each other from the threat of the Coronavirus pandemic.
March 22nd was the dawning of a new era for me as I said goodbye to my best friend and canine life partner Simba after having been diagnosed with a life-threatening and inoperable stomach tumour. Simba was a Rottweiler/American Bulldog mix that my partner and I adopted from Dogs Trust Salisbury. He came with his challenging idiosyncrasies but I loved him dearly and he absolutely changed my life and enabled me to emerge out the other side of a tough time or two.
He was there for me when I discovered my father had passed away, got me through losing our old rescue Rottie cross Misha, braved a house move with his new buddy Toucan the Staffweiler and accepted our rescue pup Dugong into his family.
That night in spring, pre lockdown, we prepared his last meal, set out a bed for him and awaited the arrival of the trusted St Giles vet and friend Sarah Bernasconi. After an incredible day at his favourite beach Blue Anchor we spoilt him with cheese chunks and ice cream and told him how privileged we were to have been his guardians.
The next day I began a new life without him by my side and poured my energy into my two remaining furry friends Toucan and Dugong. These guys needed me now as Simba was their guardian and protector and I had to step into his paws.
I felt that we could offer some foster respite to the rescue dogs at the centre and over the last two months, we have fostered 4 dogs who were not so fortunate and needed a break from kennels and some sofa time. I felt this could also be mutually beneficial for my own dogs as this will enable me to continue their socialisation with other dogs as lockdown pressures meant we had to pause Toucan’s group agility training and Dugong’s intermediate puppy classes as he was just 6 months at the start of lockdown.
First of all, I took home Lily the Staffy/Beagle mix who had been used as a breeding bitch. She was very shut down and needed some home assessments to help her find the right fit for her needs (Lily is now in a foster view to adopt placement), then Yana the Mastiff mix came to stay for a week – who was just a dream with the right mixture of athleticism and snugglebugness (Yana has now been adopted). Then her brother Brutus came for some rehabilitation as he was struggling with his back limbs as he had been overweight for some time in his previous home and, being a large breed dog, this had taken a toll on his joints. Brutus came into the centre weighing 62kg and went into his new foster home weighing 40kg. He looks incredible and the vet is very happy with his weight loss and a new sense of mobility. Fingers crossed his new family will fall in love with him and adopt him.
Finally, I snook in one last foster dog in the cover of night so my partner couldn’t say no. This was Moana, an ex puppy farm Beagle who, unfortunately, was returned to us after struggling in her new home, we discovered that Moana really needed another dog to help with her confidence and sadly the new owners were not in a position to take on another dog so felt the kindest thing was to allow her to be placed with a family who already had an established dog/s in the home. Moana benefits from doggy buddies as they can guide her and teach her how to be a real dog, how to play, how to be the little spoon as she had so many years in the puppy farm without such pleasures. Moana has had quite a lot of interest and I am certain the rehoming team can find her the perfect companions who can allow her to blossom.
All in all the last few months have been tumultuous with extreme highs and lows, however knowing that my partner, my own dogs and I have helped these rescue dogs throughout this crazy time has been a nice distraction. I can at least say I have not wasted my lockdown journey and feel privileged to be a part of the St Giles Rescue team. I can also safely say Simba would be proud of me and no matter how much I miss him I know he was loved and cherished and he changed my life in so many wonderful ways.
One thing I have learnt through all of this is “remember who you are” and if you can’t, try and find a way too, you never know, maybe a rescue dog may help you…
Written by Ros