I read an article recently that suggested dog and cat owners had different personalities. While dog lovers were more likely to be adventurous, outgoing, and energetic, cat lovers are more likely to be sensitive, less adventurous, and more introverted. It’s a great informative article about caring for cats and dogs, but I’d say I’m a bit of a mix of those personalities, even though I have fallen head over heels for canine companions in my adult life.
Dogs can be full of energy before they’ve had a good run around, but I find a lot of calm in the way they live in the moment. The calmness you get from an animal that just wants to ‘be’ is a magical thing but working with dogs that haven’t had the best start in life is satisfying beyond belief.
I didn’t have a childhood dog and if anything, I had some experiences that made me wary of dogs up front. But my auntie and uncle had a gorgeous Airedale while I was growing up, and in my late teens I met my husband to be, and I was introduced to his beautiful springer spaniel. That’s not where it started for me though. I was probably too young to even consider looking after another living being at that age. It started for me some years later when my in-laws adopted a Heinz 57 dog called Dill. A little black dog with big eyes and floppy ears who loved to jump on your lap for maximum cuddles, was the dog that ignited my passion. Perhaps it was a time of life, or perhaps it was the breed of dog, or the fact it needed help and found it, but I loved Dill and consciously or subconsciously decided I would one day own a dog of my own.
My first dog
Our first dog actually ended up looking a lot like Dill, but was an older chap called Max. We had visited a couple of the local dog homes because we knew we wanted a rescue dog, but at Bristol Animal Rescue Centre Max rushed over to the fence of his kennel and jumped up to say hello. We fell in love straight away, but when we were told he had been in the home for two years and was at the top of their ‘old timers’ board, we knew we had to have him. The centre quite rightly didn’t pack any punches. They told us they had picked him up as a stray wandering the streets of Bristol, so while he loved people, he would need a lot of training and he wouldn’t ever be able to be homed with other dogs because he had shown some aggression to the other animals in their care.
Putting in the hours
We worked hard with trainers, but it was difficult to join any classes with Max’s determination to lunge and bark at other dogs. So, we quickly moved on to work with a dog psychologist. It changed how we saw Max and how we worked with him. We had already suspected that what Max was displaying wasn’t aggression, but the psychologist helped us to see that he was barking and snarling towards other dogs because he feared them. He was warning them off so they wouldn’t get too close. Understanding this, helped us work with Max in the best way for him and grow his confidence in making other canine friends. It took a lot of time but helping him to stay calm around other dogs and ultimately live a much happier life, was so satisfying, I decided I wanted to do the same for as many dogs as I could!
A friend for Max
While we still had Max, we found Nellie, our first Collie dog. The opposite to Max on the surface she was timid and scared of everything. But the first introduction to Max went brilliantly. Max was calmer anyway, but clearly wasn’t threatened by her timid nature, and Nellie liked the fact Max didn’t want to get in her space too much. Nellie’s problems required a different approach as she was so nervous at first, that she used to hide down the side of the sofa every time anyone came to visit. But again, with a lot of love, time and understanding, she learned that she was safe with us and came out of her shell no end. Her new found confidence was very handy indeed when we introduced two new human beings to the house over the next few years and she soon had the nickname ‘nanny dog’ as she snuggled up to the children, tried to round them up, and guarded their pushchairs.
By the time Max and Nellie had passed away, we decided to take a break from being dog owners while we raised our two children and tried to juggle the new, more complicated, work life balance. This new life was difficult and put too much pressure on all four of us, even without any four-legged friends in the mix. Which is why I decided to take the leap into working for myself by setting up Blog Write. Once things had settled down and we were all in our new routines (post lockdown) we decided we had the time, space, and love for another member of the family.
And then there was Patch
We still can’t really believe we found Patch. Another Collie, but just the perfect fit for our family. He’s still a work in progress as far as the training goes, but the value he has brought to our family already, is worth any effort he needs. Both children had mixed feelings about getting a dog, they wanted one, but were still a little nervous around dogs. I was confident they would love a new four-legged friend, but their care, support, and love for Patch has far exceeded anything I had imagined. It’s a joy to see. And I understand why. As soon as you stroke a pet and they utterly surrender to that feeling of love, it slows everything down and helps to bring you back into the moment.
I’m pretty sure this is a passion that will be in my life forever now, so I’m thrilled my children will grow up with the experience of owning and loving a dog, and I am grateful that we are once again in a position to be able to take care of another dog in need.