“Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.”
– Anatole France
Easily the best thing I’ve ever done is rescue a dog. For my soul, my relationship, my happiness and my sanity. Every single day, I’m happy with our decision to welcome a dog into our little family. There’s no better therapy, no truer friendship and no better company than a dog’s presence in your home. I highly recommend it.
I knew that convincing my beloved to get a dog was simply a matter of overwhelming him with cuteness. So I sent him photos of homeless dogs every day until he gave in: little dogs in cardigans, scruffy dogs with kind eyes, old dogs with missing teeth. They were all gorgeous, and homeless. As I suspected, my boyfriend agreed to come with me to Monika’s Doggie Rescue to get a canine friend. No pedigrees, no puppies, no poodles. Just a darling, abandoned little dog who was lovable, but unloved.
Now, it’s not an easy process, adopting a dog from Monika. She’s not that keen on humans, and I don’t blame her – she spends her days rescuing dogs from their cruelty and negligence. She drives around, picking up dogs on death row in pounds. She’s a modern-day saint if ever I saw one, but she’s very discerning about who gives her dogs a home. She interviewed me, my boyfriend and my flatmate extensively before she introduced us to any dogs, and I’ve seen her turn people away if she suspects they’re not sincere.
First, we met a scurrilous little guy called Dunstan. He bit me in the face, and I took this to mean perhaps he wasn’t quite right for us. The second dog we’d asked to see was waiting under Monika’s desk in her office, too frightened and fragile to be around other dogs. She was cowered in a basket, and didn’t move. I got down on all fours, trying to coax her out, cooing and chatting away to her like she was a child. When she was in my arms, she froze. Her whole body went floppy, like a deadweight. She was clearly terrified, and I knew within moments that she had to come home with us. She was eight years old, the vets estimated, and we don’t know anything about her previous life. She had rotten teeth, matted fur and a back injury. Her temporary dog-shelter name was Natasha.
We very quickly renamed her Lady Fluffington. Seriously. Lady Fluffington. Lady for short. Her silent middle name is Beyonce. Cos I knew she’d be sassy, eventually. It was probably two months before she really grew to trust us. Just like I wore down my boyfriend with cute photos, I knew we could get her to trust us if we persisted with love and cuddles.
This is a Happily Ever After story.
Lady is now unstoppable. She sleeps on my bed, and when it’s cold she curls up into a little ball right in the curve of my lower back. She hides all her treats in my shoes. She barks, she eats, she chases toys like a pup half her age and she does this adorable tap-dance on our wooden floors when we come in the front door. She’s no longer in pain with her back, and she goes to the park most days. She’s very nervous around other dogs, and we assume that’s something to do with her previous life. She has serious attitude. Just the other day at the park, a woman said “Ooph! That dog’s got swagger!” as Lady walked by. It was probably the proudest moment of my life.
That, and the day Lady featured on the cutest tumblr of all time, AnimalDressedAsOtherAnimals.tumblr.com. Dressed as a lioness, to reflect her inner fierceness.
She’s also on twitter, at The Fluffington Post (@ladyfluffington). She occasionally posts about canine fashion, but mostly she posts the pictures and details of homeless dogs that need human saviours. She’s very altruistic, my Lady. A real mover and shaker in the world of dog rescue.
If you need any further proof that the companionship of a dog can heal pain, ease anxiety, and make your life complete… Look no further than my gorgeous grandma’s story.
My grandma adopted a dog from Monika’s Doggie Rescue a few years ago – a scruffy little guy with black hair and matching brown feet and eyebrows. I’ve never seen a dog more devoted to his human friend, nor a woman more besotted with her dog. I just know she feeds him cake for afternoon tea, and he won’t leave her side for more than a moment. She was in hospital recently, so one day my mum and I snuck Archie (whose shelter name was Bruce) into the hospital grounds and wheeled her out to see him. She cried, I cried, we all cried. Archie jumped straight onto her lap, licked her on the nose and made happy little yelping noises while my grandma said his name over and over. I know that visit gave her the will to live.