Tag Archives: lurcher

Our First Visit – P.A.T

So in our last post we were all thrilled with the news that Annabel had passed her assessment to be a Pets As Therapy dog. Yes we were – not just me. Well, we didn’t waste much time, and started our venture together today at the local nursing home. I am pleased to report that Annabel was a super star and did her new job to perfection. I was pretty sure I’d enjoy the experience, but I was unprepared for how moving it was.

It was a lovely establishment, with wonderful staff and a nice atmosphere. I was nervous signing in and going through into the day room, but the faces that lighted up on seeing my girl trot in to say hello melted away the nerves in a heartbeat.

L has bright blue eyes and a lovely smile. He was thrilled when Annabel put her head on his lap, calling over the nurse to have a look “She likes me! See?” and telling me all about the Labrador he had as a young married man.

D is a happy soul but doesn’t retain much short-term memory or new information. She forgets my name every few seconds and asks the same questions over and over again. D is really friendly and I instantly like her.  “I can’t stroke her lovey,” she tells me “my hands are twisted, look” and she shows me her hands in a fixed position, I imagine due to arthritis. “Perfect for tickling her head with D. She likes that.” D smiles and tickles Annabel’s head. Annabel does indeed like it, and grunts appreciatively making D laugh.

We are then taken by a nurse to visit some private rooms, where I meet a wonderfully sharp and well dressed lady I could’ve talked to for hours, who is fascinated by the charity and the work we do. A few rooms down is a resident who seems totally in her own world. This second lady doesn’t speak to me, but spends a long time very slowly stroking Annabel’s head and whispering in her ear. I wonder what they were talking about? None of my business.

The last person in a private room we see is a very frail looking, tiny women curled in her bed and sighing deeply. Bless her, I think. In we go . . .  Annabel wags her tail and puts her head onto the bed, and the lady springs to life making me jump a little. She is literally squealing with delight and laughing out loud at my lovely lurcher’s gentle hand-licks. “Fantastic!” She cries out. “Ooooh, isn’t she lovely. OOoh ‘hello beautiful!'”

As we travel back down with the nurse in the lift, she agrees that seeing the faces light up as we introduce ourselves is a very special thing, and I am surprised to feel a little emotional.

Back in the day room for a quick goodbye, some family have arrived to visit some of the residents, who point to Annabel and introduce her to their loved ones, seemingly enjoying being the giver of some different news rather that the receiver. As we are walking out the door D shouts over “Bye bye Annabel.”

And that’s why it works. Pets As Therapy give people in nursing homes the chance to be the one to impart care for a change. They give people the pleasure and chance of an unconditional cuddle, or chat that does not require a response. They make people smile. They encourage reminiscence of previous dogs the client may have owned and loved, and comfort those who may have had to give up a pet to be there. As the charity themselves put it:

“These dogs bring everyday life closer and with it all the happy associations for them of home comforts. The constant companionship of an undemanding animal, that gives unconditional love, is often one of the most missed aspects of their lives. Pets As Therapy was formed to help make this loss more bearable.” – P.A.T

We are going back next Saturday.

Photo: Our first official visit to a nursing home 󾌵 #PetsAsTherapy

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I noticed something . . .

I noticed something today.

When I first saw Annabel at the shelter she was emaciated. She had burns on her. She also had a tiny sore patch on the top of her nose, apparently caused by rubbing on the wires of her rescue kennel in distress.

I’ve carefully monitored her as her weight crept up to a healthy one.

I have treated the burns and checked them daily.

But only today did I notice that the little pink spot on her nose had gone. The injury she inflicted on herself out of sheer stress has totally healed – and not because I put cream on it.

And this has warmed my heart and made me smile.

And I wanted to share it.

Maybe she is slowly healing from the outside in. Maybe we really are getting somewhere . . .

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Separation Anxiety Part 3 – One paw forward 4 paws back.

One paw forward 4 paws back. That’s how things feel at the moment. I have been very consistent with Annabel over the past week or two (for those that don’t know our rescue lurcher has separate anxiety – manifesting itself in the form of house soiling . . . Several times . . . Every day. Read the start of our story here.)
So with professional help and a programme of behaviour training put in place, we are soldiering on.

The next step it would seem is a den / cage / crate. Something i have previously had mixed feelings about. Both dogs have already been in a kind of make shift “den” in the kitchen for the past week, and when they are closed in – as expected – there is no soiling. But when out of the den, Annabel will soil the moment we are distracted, be it a phone call, putting our daughter to bed, or even watching a bit of telly. Short of staring at her the entire time she is out of her den (a virtual impossibility with a 4 year old child), there is nothing for it right now but to keep her in it to break the cycle. As this is a little unfair on our well behaved greyhound, Badger, Annabel will be getting her own crate today.

I have been reassured that although this seems extreme, it is none-the-less preferable to rehoming or even more drastic measures.

Our poor girl’s case is quite extreme, and we are certainly not ready to give up on her, so crate it is. I have to think of it as putting her through cold turkey – tough love of you will. We are stepping up the walks to make sure she is sufficiently worn out when at home.

We don’t know her history, but due to the sorry state she was found in it is obvious that her behaviour is the result of human-kind’s failings. She was not treated properly in the first few years of her life, and it is my belief that she has never known love, or a kind home, and she can’t quite cope with it in a healthy way.

Therefore surely it is human kind’s responsibility to try and fix her. Our responsibility.

Annabel came to us for a reason – I have to keep remembering that on a bad day. Maybe other familes could not have coped with the extremeness of the anxiety. Maybe she’d have ended up back in rescue kennels – something I feel sure would be utterly detrimental to her ever finding a permanent home.

I may have to to take deep breaths and remind myself “it’s not her fault” on a daily basis, but we are determined to stick with her.

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Separation Anxiety Diary Part 2 – implementing changes.

So our lovely animal behaviour expert Dr David Sands visited last week with a wealth of information about how to implement his behaviour programme – a programme that will hopefully help with Annabel’s constant soiling in the house.

There was a lot to take in, but everything discussed was handed to us in written form to go over again in our own time, and were left feeling re-assured and enthused to start. Some things about the programme we were able to implement straight away, such as re-locating the dog beds and clicker training. Some things would need to be gradually introduced over the coming weeks and days. A large part of re-programming our Annabel’s pattern of behaviour, means a big lack of attention for her around the house. Let me tell you: it is EXTREMELY difficult to ignore this face:

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Attention is given at specific times and in specific ways in order to break the cycle, and not just when madam demands it.

(NB – I do realise I am being vague in my description of what exactly we are implementing, but this is with good reason. Dr Sands has spent literally decades studying animal behaviour and modyfying his techniques. Each programme is adapted specifically for individual dog – and indeed family – situations. Our programme is specific to Annabel, but feel free to look at the information on his website , here.)

SO – two/three days in and although it was tricky to remember everything, there was no denying that we definately had fewer accidents. We were doing really well.

Or so I thought.

Four/five days in and we seem to have total regression. Not only with an increase in accidents, but now with the added pleasure of her whining – something she didn’t previously do in the house when she could see us.

Our new regime means that – for now – we spend less time with her at home, partitioning them off at certain times. This is not proving a popular decision, and although she can see us . . . she cries. And cries. And cries. I guess I can understand it – it’s a big change for her. But it’s not much fun right now, and I can’t help but worry if her anxiety level has simply gone up.

I know it is key that I have to stick to my guns. Essential in fact. But because we’ve had a bad few days it makes me question all of my actions. I read and re-read the instructions, and had a lengthy discussion with David over the phone (he is so very generous with his time and keeps the lines of communication open 100% – very reassuring), but for some reason I’m not yet feeling confindant that I’m implementing everything correctly. Mostly because Annabel never responds how we expect and keeps changing the goal posts.

This is hard.

I am anxious myself about getting home from work and what might be waiting for me on the floor when I do. I guess I’ll be re-reading the notes again and hoping I’m on the right track. . . . (and putting Dr Sands on my friends and family list for cheaper phonecalls!)

Got to keep on keeping on . . . I soooo want to crack this. Come on Annabel . . .

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Welcome!

This is my first official post as a pet blogger, so welcome indeed! Here’s the shizzle:

– I am not an animal expert, either in medical or behavioural matters, but OOooooh I just lurve my fur-babies (yes, people who don’t have pets, that IS what we call them) and I look forward to writing about them.

– I am passionate about animal rescue.

– Our little family consists of: Me, my husband, my little daughter, a retired racing greyhound with extremely potent flatulence, a lurcher with zero recall (we’re working on it), a rather snooty ragdoll cat, and a big, black and very affable longhaired moggie.

Wanna meet ’em?? DO ya?? Huh?? Aaaahhh, go on then:

Chicken

Chicken

This is Chicken. Or “Chicken Toerags” if you go by her full title, or “Madamoiselle Poulet” if you go by what I’d like her full title to really be. She’s the only pedigree in the brood and my very special girl. She’s been with me for 9 years, and I think you’ll agree – is one very pretty lady.

Likes – Me. Sleeping on my chest at approximately 5am most mornings. Ham. Crispy Duck from the Golden Harvest, Bolton.
Dislikes – Every other living creature in the house. Fresh fish/chicken/every food cats are supposed to like.

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This is Badger. Beautiful Badger. Not brimming with intellect, but full of affection and poetry in motion when he’s running. More people should consider taking on a retired racing greyhound – I intent to post more on this subject at a later date. He is the first one my 4 year old daughter goes to for a cuddle when she’s in a grump – (a frequent event.)

Likes – Anything edible that isn’t nailed down. Having the backs of his ears rubbed. A tiny little pug we sometimes see walking named Mr Darcy.

Dislikes – My daughter getting upset – bless him. And not much else to be honest -our Badger is a happy Badger.

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Annabel. A three year old (approx) lurcher and a truly gentle soul. Annabel is a new addition to the clan. I went to donate some blankets and food to our local rescue shelter just before Christmas and my little daughter spotted her. “This one looks sad Mummy. Can we take her home?” Well who was I to say no?! It really was love at first sight with this lady – she’d been found living rough, emedicated and with burns, bless her heart. Badger had been pining for the Belgian shepherd we’d lost to old age a few weeks previously. We were all devastated by losing him, but Annabel has been very healing.

Likes – All of us. Me, husband, daughter, Badger, cats. Won’t take her eyes off whoever is in the room. Also likes hugs, often putting her head on any available shoulder and nuzzling in.

Dislikes – Thunder and lightning. I have a feeling fireworks are going to be an issue too.

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Last but not least, meet Fluffbomb. (I find the name is best pronounced in the style of the Batman theme tune – Danna nana nana nana nana nana nana nana FLUFFBOMB!)

Fluffbomb was inherited. He belonged to my aunty, who I was extremely close to. She sadly passed away in 2012 aged just 49. Fluffbomb needed a home and I knew what a good natured boy he was, so we gave him a try. My aunty was very close to my daughter – so I liked the idea of her growing up with Fluffbomb (or Bobbum as he’s sometimes called.) Fluffbomb sleeps on her bed and never leaves her side when she’s poorly. He is a very affable chap and is often more dog like than cat like, coming straight away when his name is called. Bobbum is brilliant.

Likes – To sit and squint at you for hours. to meow replies when you talk to him. Turkey ham.

Dislikes – Aw do you know what? I can’t think of anything. Lovely Bobbum.

Well that’s me and my fur buddies. Any other lurcher/greyhound/ragdoll fans out there? They may all drive me nuts at times but I wouldn’t be without them.

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