Saving Smeegle from the Fiery Brute


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.


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Yola S.
.2 years ago

So glad Smeegle is happy at last.

Joan K.
Joan Keijer2 years ago

You are a gem!

Joan K.
Joan Keijer2 years ago

You are a beautiful person to have all the love and especially patience with Smeegle....what a lucky dog he is...thank you!

Carole R.
Carole R2 years ago

Great story. So glad he has a new loving home.

Rosemary H.
Rosemary H2 years ago

I'm so pleased Smeegle finally got the loving home he deserves!

Maggie W.
Maggie D2 years ago

As someone who took in a very abused dog I want to thank you for giving Smeegle the love and patience he needed to blossom.

Claire Jordan
Claire Jordan2 years ago

So glad he found a good home. A Border Collie is the last dog that somebody who isn't used to dogs or has a short fuse should get: they're professional-level working dogs who need huge amounts of exercise and stimulation, and tend to be quite eccentric even if they haven't been ill-treated and made neurotic.

Renata B.
Renata B2 years ago

Those bastards should have been reported and prosecuted. They are a disgrace. Sorry to say that many large (and sometimes not so large) British organisations that exist to rescue and rehome animals are very selective in the choices of the new carer: if you have a foreign accent you won't get any animal. It doesn't matter how reliable and committed you are, how many recommendations you have, they don't want to deal with you. They can even tell you that there are no unwanted cats in this blessed country!
But if you have the native accent (and you are white of course) then no-one says anything. Many animals are put down because there are no homes, but excellent homes are refused based on racial discrimination.
I adopted one of my cats from an English family that should be taken to court. I would do now, but at that time I was too new to the country. The vet recommended I did because of the problems she had. Then it turned out that she was inbred poor thing. Many things need to change in this country and with the new government the changes are not for better for sure for the animals and the environment.

Yvonne Wey
Yvonne Wey2 years ago

Super you took this dog home now he has the best loving home for him to be away from his rotten previous owners thanks for sharing this touching story

Monika Aniserowicz
Monika A2 years ago

You make my day :-) Smeegle is a beautiful dog - and his eyes are magnificent.