Companion Animals

1st January 1981 – 1995
I got Fergi from Battersea Dogs Home around 1981 while I was living in London. He was thought to be about 8 months old and had been found wandering with a short, frayed (aka chewed?) length of rope tied to his collar. To his dying day he would not tolerate being tied up to railings, etc. Like all rescue dogs he was hard work at first but settled down after we moved to Shrewsbury and had him ‘snipped’. Add in a pre-release of the Halti and he became quite the model dog.His ‘party trick’, if you can call it that, was each Christmas when the inevitable news item about stray dogs came on the news from Battersea Dogs Home Fergi would go and hide under the kitchen table at the sound of the dogs barking. The really spooky part of it was that I got chatting to a young woman with two young Whippets and an elderly Greyhound on Newcastle Town Moor while Lola and the Whippets raced around and Fergi and the Greyhound pottered about amiably peeing on clumps of grass. Totally unprompted she mentioned that she had got the Greyhound from Battersea and how it went and hid when the Dogs Home came on the news each Christmas! Eventually Fergi came to live with Lynne and I until we lost him to Liver Failure. The next day Be-Bop came into our lives.

I got Lola round about 1982 whilst living in Shrewsbury. I got Lola as a companion for him but they pretty much ignored each other all their lives! She was a lurcher that looked like a small greyhound that had been picked up off the streets with her litter mates at about two weeks old. We saw her at four weeks old and had to wait until six weeks to adopt her. If we hadn’t already got Fergi I would have taken her brother that hadn’t yet found a home, he was the clone of her. Her poor start in life left her blind in her right eye but otherwise healthy.It was a real joy to watch her run like the wind on Newcastle Town Moor. Once, before we left Shrewsbury she discovered a rabbit in short undergrowth. The rabbit shot off in one direction while Lola legged it at twice the speed in the opposite! She was a nervous but strong character even surviving running in front a bus doing about 40mph with only a cut cheek and bruised arse to show for it! She ended up living with the Ex’s cousin and died at the age of eleven.
PC & Macintosh
PC 01/12/1995 – 10/01/2006 Macintosh 01/12/1995 – 19/09/2011
PC & Macintosh came to us from the same litter. Although they came from a litter of a political friend they did not have a good start in life. It turns out they already had had cat flu before we took them at six weeks old. This left them both with mild heart murmurs. Nevertheless they both enjoyed good health most of their lives.PC in particular led a charmed life and could often be seen from the back attic window sitting or lying in a hollow of the long grass on the waste ground behind us just soaking up the sun, pale almond eyes watching the world go by.Macintosh was a very outgoing cat until Linux moved in on us. He too loved the waste ground behind, constantly making mad dashes up the Elders trying to catch birds unawares.It turned out that part of his hiding under the living room bureau all the time was because he suffering with an abscess that we somehow never managed to spot until it has almost healed. Even after we lost PC, Macintosh and Linux did not really get on and would spat occasionally bringing first Be-Bop and then Helga running to sort out them out.Once we lost Linux through his disappearance, Macintosh started to show his old more assertive self, despite being a real porker and over 14 years old. So he had a good final year or so until suddenly declining with the weight melting off him. This time we resolved not to leave it too long and he went peacefully and painlessly in our hands.
1st January 1994 – 14th March 2007
We went up to the RSPCA the day after we lost Fergi and came home with Be-Bop. That was the name he came with and we decided, as he appeared to know it, to keep it. He was estimated to be about 18 months old so we worked his birthday out from there, doing the race horse birthday date thing into the bargain. He loved water and swimming and he could not get enough of flinging himself ino the Leeds-Liverpool Canal.On Wednesday, 14th March 2007 at around 10:15am our vet had to put Be-bop to sleep. He had been ill for over a year but had declined increasingly since Christmas. We scattered his ashes into the canal at his favourite spot. We shall miss him very deeply for a long time to come.
??2005-ish?? -2nd May 2010
He simply moved in on us, no amount of discouragement would dissuade him that our home was not his home. Mind you the fact he was a pretty young cat with a heart shaped face and large eyes that give him an owl-like look probably helped his cause. It was after a few weeks of trying him to send him on his way that I received a call from Lynne while I was away telling me “I’ve given up! He’s been to Terry and he’s been jabbed, chipped and snipped. He’s now ours!”.On the morning of the day we were flying to Spain for our two week holiday Linux was nowhere to be found, so we could not take him to the pet hotel with the dogs and Macintosh. Friends kept an eye out for him while we were away but no sign. After a month we had to face the fact that we had lost him. He was a dear little thing and we will miss him, whatever has happened.
18th May 2004 – (a long to come we hope)
Helmut came into our lives on the 18th May 2007 after a trip to Spain following our losing Be-Bop, the theory being that it would be wrong to get a dog from a rescue kennel only to put it in holiday kennels for two weeks. Those few weeks were awful and re-inforced to both of us how much we like having a dog around. During that period we had a situation with one of our troublesome neighbours (now thankfully long gone) that decided us that we didn’t need another medium dog, we needed a large dog. We wavered between Doberman and German Shepherd for a while before settling on a GSD. So we looked at a few web sites which helped the decision (although we did see one Doberman that sounded ideal but of course had been swiftly re-homed) and went over to the RSPCA in Bradford. Once again the GSD we had seen on the site as ideal had already been re-homed. We saw two GSD’s and were not impressed; wildly excited and no sign of connection. We thanked the staff and turned to go but were implored to see one more dog. “He’s a bit bigger and a bit stronger but he’s a lovely dog” they said. And that’s how we met Helmut, or Brownie as the staff called him. He too was wildly excited but connected enough in all his jumping around to sniff our hands and then stick his nose in Lynne’s crotch and those were the connection signs we had been looking for. We took him up to the exercise yard and played with him for about fifteen minutes during which time he calmed down a lot and played fetch with Lynne showing signs of having been trained. That convinced us and we agreed to take him. He had zero history being left in the reception by someone who staff got no details from and had been with them five months; a big improvement from Bops who had been in five weeks and was less than a week from being put down. The other big change was that we could not take him that day but had to wait a week and submit to vetting including a home visit.He settled in very quickly, aided a lot I am sure by our joining the local Leeds Branch of the British Association of German Shepherd Dogs (BAGSD) and taking him each Sunday morning for training classes. Over a period of about 18 months he made steady progress and became well socialised with the other dogs and their owners. We eventually fell out with the Branch and left BAGSD but that is a story told in Helga’s section. By which time his life had changed totally, from being the only child (oops I mean dog) to having to get used to the fact that a bitch had moved in with him and us.
25th April 2005 – (a long to come we hope)
Helga was a bonus to an excellent concert at the Sheffield Arena on the 16th September 2008 when we went to see Nickelback. Her arrival at our home started with an e-mail circulated around BAGSD members with a link to a website that held details of a GSD bitch that needed rehoming. Following a series of e-mails with Lesley Cooper of Gentle Bears we arranged to take Helmut to Lesley’s and leave him while we went to see Nickelback. The idea was that they could meet on neutral territory and it also gave Lesley a chance to assess us I guess. So we arrived and left Helmut, me hobbling about on my crutches and went off to the concert. When we returned hours later all was very well and it was agreed that Helga would come home with us. At that time we had no ‘Dog Pods’ so they were loose in the back of my Jeep together but we got home without incident, a very encouraging beginning. At that time Helga’s name was ‘Dusty’ but she didn’t know it and Lesley was very pleased we were going to change it. Her Kennel Club name is ‘Deep Scarlet Secret’. It didn’t take us long to realise from things like she didn’t know her name, she didn’t know what a lead was or what being offered a treat meant that we had in effect taken on a 30 Kilo puppy with no manners to speak off. Thank heavens she was house-trained! The dominance issues were bad in the beginning resulting in many a ‘spat’ between her and Helmut but eighteen months on and she is a happy girl who ‘wafts’ (rather than wags) her big soft tail most of the time. She and Helmut are very firmly bonded together and some their play now makes the ‘spats’ look mild!Unfortunately she did not take to BAGSD and after a demand to muzzle her at all times at the Club which we refused to do it all ended up in a rather acrimonious parting of the ways, involving seeking advice from West Yorkshire Police about threatening phone calls from two of the BAGSD members.Helga, like Helmut, loves visiting my Mum in Newcastle, they seem to find her garden liberating even though its not that much bigger than our backyard. And we are taking them more and more places with steadily increasing levels of success. At first my Mum was very concerned that we had got another 30 Kilos of energetic dog but after seeing them together a few time, the progress they’ve made in bonding together and with us and the interaction they enjoy she now ‘totally gets it’ that it is a good thing to have two dogs not one.

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