Written by Ness Watson of West Sussex, United Kingdom
In the Autumn of 2007, our very old Border Collie, Frog, went out for a long walk as usual without any problems. On her return, she climbed the steps to where we lived, got to the top and lay down and couldn’t get up again. We rushed her to the vet and they told us that at nearly 15, she was going into heart failure quite quickly and although they may well be able to make her comfortable, there was no coming back from it. I said goodbye to Frog and she crossed the rainbow bridge.
Cut to a few months later and we were having a lot of difficulty adopting a new dog. I live in a very large apartment and this went against me when it came to adopting from all the larger organizations in the UK. ‘Dogs cannot live in apartments’ I was told. I felt this is incorrect as I take my dog out for four long walks a day, a lot of dogs I am aware of just get to do their business in a garden and rarely see the outside world.
One day, I received an email from a lady who was desperate to rehome her dog, JJ. She told us all about him, how he was 8 months old and a handful. She said she and her husband had four kids and that her husband no longer wanted the dog. I went immediately to find out more about the situation. When I got there and first met with JJ, he cowered and cried so much, I couldn’t put a hand on him as he shied away and he wouldn’t walk properly, just crouched so low to the floor. He was bald in a lot of areas, very underweight and most of the fur from his face was gone, only pink skin remaining. He did his best to keep well away from my partner and would try and disappear if my partner put a hand out for him to smell.
When He Walked in, the Dog Hid Behind Me
The husband came back just then and the dog tried desperately to get out of the room we were in, his tail disappeared between his legs, his eyes looking at the ground and he hid behind me. I began asking questions.
It turns out the husband would beat the dog with belts and fists and kick the dog whenever he saw him. The dog was made to live out in the rain and cold with no shelter at all and had not been socialized with human nor animal. We didn’t get a single thing for him and even then I pressed £40 into the womans hands and said to keep it for the kids or herself. JJ was bearly 8 months at this point and I believe to this day he was taken from his mother way too young.
We Showed Him that Hands Could Deliver Love Instead of Pain
Back at home JJ, or Smeegle as he’d chosen to respond to, started his journey to become a well rounded dog. At first he couldn’t even bear the lightest touch to stroke him, but would tolerate it. Slowly I could build that time up until at last we could stroke him for 5 minutes before he ran away. His fur grew back in nicely and he filled out, putting on 8 klimograms (17.6 pounds) as when we got him he barely weighed half of the weight he should have been.
He still took a long time to get used to having my partner around and would have serious issues when males would come into the house, running away only to return, bark and run away again. It took him more than two years to stop barking at my dad. The best advice I could give to people was ignore him completely, don’t look at him, and after half an hour of people being there he would appear and begin to settle down a bit, although he’d be ready to run if need be. He’d have trouble eating foods and so we’d let his holistic biscuits soak for ten minutes before letting him have his dinner. He hated his paws being touched or even looked at and became funny if you found a mark on him, preferring to run to the safety of his bed.
We bought him toys and like most Collies, he became best friends with a variety of tennis balls, handy as we live next to tennis courts and a big park. But he wasn’t very socialized with other dogs. He doesn’t have aggression, but more curiosity and fear. It took at least a year of hard work to get him to the point where he could bring a ball to males who visited and then retrieve it when they threw it for him. It took nearly a year to get him to come onto my bed for a hug and when he started doing it, there was no stopping him. Lovely & humorous Smeegle photos here.
Don’t Stop Now
Smeegle now lives for attention and woe betide you if you stop stroking him before he is ready as he’ll be ready with a slap of the paw as if to say ‘why did you stop? I want love!’ He loves people and even my 4-year-old nephew is treated with kid gloves by him. He has learned Spanish commands as well as English commands and has a hilarious ‘sense of humor’ doing some very wacky things. I hate to think what would have happened if someone hadn’t contacted me out of the blue.
Brought to you by The Great Animal Rescue Chase….heroes welcome.