One of the most frustrating aspects of working with rescue dogs is that when people are handing a dog in, they often lie to you.
Sometimes, it’s entirely premeditated, because they think that you will not take a dog if they admit that the dog has a particular issue. And then you can get the complete opposite – people think you will not take a dog unless it’s the most perfect dog in the world. Ever.
Either way, it’s important to know if dogs have issues so we can work with them from day one. It’s what we do.
Sometimes, the lies can be something far more unpleasant.
On one occasion we discovered that someone handed a dog in to us that was in the latter stages of terminal cancer. We discovered that it had been diagnosed with the previous vet (so the owner knew full well when he handed her in that she was dying), but the owner didn’t mention it to us – all they wanted was an easy way to hand the dog off without having to go through the grief of losing the dog. In their mind, they could imagine that she recovered and was fine.
It was only with hindsight that questions he asked like “what happens if she becomes ill?” and “if she became really unwell, would she stay with you?” that you realise that this person knew exactly what they were doing, but didn’t have the decency to be honest about it.
There was no miracle cure, and there was no relapse, poor little Miffy was put to sleep at the right time with love. Thankfully she enjoyed being with us and the other dogs, and hopefully she felt that she was loved when she crossed the Rainbow Bridge. It’s the least we can do to help our furry friends when the time came.
Miffy’s story broke our hearts. We learned two hard lessons: people aren’t always what they seem, and no matter how short a time you have with a dog, they will climb inside your heart just the same.
You might think that this is disgraceful, and that it was a one-off… but it isn’t. It may have been the first time someone lied to our faces about the health of their dog – but it certainly wasn’t the last by a long, long way.
No matter how she came to be with us, and what lies were told to us along the way, we wouldn’t have swapped that time we had with Miffy. She was a 15 year old collie girl with a beautiful nature and personality. We had the privilege of sharing her last few weeks as a family, and hopefully we made her as happy as she made us.
Dogs like Miffy gave us our love of helping older dogs that others had given up on. I could give you a list of old dogs who were only with us a short time. Each one of them made us laugh and made us cry in equal measure.
The stories of pizza theft, puppy wrangling, sneakiness, barking at inanimate objects to get them to move out of the way and wilful deafness still make us chuckle.
The owner may have lied to us about Miffy, and it broke our hearts, but she – and other cheeky old timers – have been worth every single moment.
Have a look around your home, and perhaps you could find room for an old dog everyone else is overlooking. Can you give an old dog the gift of a home for the rest of their life?