It all started early one Monday morning; another Monday morning, no different to any other morning—or so I thought at the time.
At this point in the story, Izzy was now five years old and had mellowed somewhat. She was still prone to the odd bout of reckless behaviour, but on the whole she had developed a greater sense of self control, much to our combined relief. Misty, on the other hand, had not changed one iota. She remained her quiet, sweet and obedient self, seemingly incapable of getting into the sorts of mischievous scrapes that Izzy could never seem to avoid.
I was busily working away at the veterinary clinic, where I continued to enjoy my role as a veterinary nurse, and had taken a short break in order to have a little catch-up with Anne, one of the practice’s team of receptionists. Amongst the many snippets of information that she gave me was a brief rundown on the latest intake of dogs at East Midlands Dog Rescue, a small Leicestershire- based charity that our clinic worked closely alongside. She casually mentioned that Sandy, the lady who ran the rescue, had taken in a male whippet-type lurcher puppy, one of a batch of assorted strays that had travelled down from a council pound in County Durham. Anne described this puppy as being ‘cute’, ‘tiny’ and ‘adorable’, along with many other complimentary terms of endearment that have now long since slipped from my memory. She also informed me that this little puppy had been earmarked for almost certain death at the stray pound before being saved at the last minute. This little ruse of telling heartbreaking stories was frequently deployed by the reception team as part of their ongoing mission to nudge certain needy waifs into the paths of others. They are a wily and crafty bunch who know full well which buttons to press—and so, from that moment onwards, she had my complete and undivided attention. Anne deftly slipped into the end of her summary that this particular puppy was also suspected to be blind. ‘Too late for me to worry about a trifling matter like that,’ I thought, pushing this little nugget of information to the back of my mind. A larger part of me was already being drawn to the sorry plight of this little stray and I wanted to know more.
I still do not know to this day the true reasoning as to why I was so attracted to this one dog in particular. Yes, he was described to me as being a whippet; but Sandy had taken in many whippet and whippet-type dogs and I had always managed to resist the temptation to succumb to taking on another. Three would have just been one too many. I hadn’t even laid eyes on this puppy but the cogs of my mind were already turning, warming to the possibility of maybe shoehorning in just one more…?
I spent the rest of the day mulling it over, weighing up the pros and cons of adding another dog to our already close-knit family. Izzy and Misty were such a tightly bonded pair; would they accept another dog—and a male dog at that? I had no idea what Paul would think to my even considering taking on a rescue dog. It was just something that had never crossed our minds before and so had never been discussed.
As was my usual way, I broached the subject with Paul the very same evening in a roundabout and vague manner. I merely brought up the subject that Sandy had taken in a young whippet-type puppy and that it was a terrible shame that one so young had found himself in rescue. Paul acknowledged with a nod and a sympathetic, ‘Oh bless him—poor puppy. I doubt he will be in rescue for long,’ and carried on reading his TV magazine. I left it a short time in order for Paul to digest this first chunk of information before pushing on. ‘Yes, it is such a shame—and the poor little mite is also blind…’ Bullseye! That got his attention. Paul put his magazine down and started firing a barrage of questions at me about the puppy: how old was he, how did he come to find himself in rescue and lastly, when could we meet him?
Not one to rest on my laurels, I rang Sandy straight away and she filled me in on the puppy’s background. She told me that he had been found as a stray on the streets of County Durham, and was consequently picked up and taken to one of the local stray pounds. With no identification to connect him to an owner, he was then held at the pound in order to complete his compulsory waiting period to see if he would be claimed before being considered for rescue placement. Initially it seemed that the gods were not smiling on this poor puppy—whose age was estimated at the time as being around four months—as it was suspected that he may be both blind and deaf. He was suffering from a bad case of mange and had also contracted a severe bout of kennel cough. Early thoughts seemed to have been that his combined problems were perhaps just too much for him and it was considered that the kindest thing to do was to have him euthanised. After all, was it really fair to keep a dog with so many problems?
It would seem that the fate of this little stray puppy rested in the hands of two people, and it became their unenviable task to decide on his future. The two people in question were Sue and Lucille. Sue was a volunteer from a charity called GALA (Greyhound and Lurcher Aid) and as the name suggested, the charity was heavily involved in the rescue and rehoming of the aforementioned breeds. Lucille was the president of Lancky Dogs, a Lancashire based group who, amongst other things, helped to raise funds for small independent northern rescues such as GALA to help greyhounds and lurchers in need.
After much discussion, it was decided that Sue would try to gauge the severity of the puppy’s disabilities, and so she arranged to pay him a visit at the pound. As the puppy had been severely affected by kennel cough and had subsequently become very poorly, he had been transferred to the warmer cattery section of the pound to keep him both isolated and comfortable. Once Sue had located his whereabouts, she sat herself down next to him, on the floor of his holding pen. She then carried out a little test to try to assess his hearing by gently tapping on the floor close to where he was resting to see if he responded to the noise made. This simple test would mean the difference between life and death for this particular puppy. It had become obvious in his short time at the kennels that his vision was very poor, if not non-existent, but there was still a big question mark hanging over his ability to hear. If it was confirmed that he was deaf then euthanasia still seemed to be the kindest option; but if he responded then maybe, just maybe he could be saved.
Sue tapped and waited…