'Following Eve and the Wild at Heart Foundation on Instagram is a very dangerous thing...
I have wanted a dog for years and visited Battersea Dogs home a number of times but as I am not retired, able to spend all day at home, have never owned a dog before and have 2 cats they did not seem particularly happy to help me.
Then I found the Wild at Heart Foundation. Their ethos, their love for animals and the gorgeous photos of dogs of all shapes, sizes and needs meant that I was gazing longingly at Instagram most evenings and hoping that one day a pup would come along that would suit our happy little home.
And then along came a call out for help for a dog called Robert. Eve said "HELP NEEDED! Robert is a gorgeous Mini Pinscher cross from Cyprus whose home has fallen through. He is due to come to the UK in 2 days and we urgently need to find him a new home"
What I saw was a beautiful face, massive ears and a very soulful look in his eyes and I was hooked. I message Eve instantly expressing my interest in Robert and was very excited to hear back from her straight away.
I was then contacted by Faith over Skype and we had a chat about my house and my suitability as well as the suitability of Robert for us. I was thankfully deemed as suitable and Robert was with me 2 days later! (I had to tell my husband over the phone as he was working in New York, at least he couldn't tell me off from that distance and had time to get his head around it!)
Robert (now called Bobby) was delivered to my door and I fell in love with him instantly. I had done a lot of research about introducing dogs and cats and purchased baby gates, so the cats and Bob could see each other and get used to each other, and I borrowed a crate for Bob to sleep in a night from a friend as I read this helps with anxiety and makes them feel safe.
Although I am in love and wouldn't give him up for anything it hasn't all been plain sailing. Bob has a fabulously acute chase sense and the baby gates have done nothing to help introduce him to the cats. It does mean that every time they come in from the garden he barks and tries to get at them, and also means that the cats no longer get to spend any time cuddling with us on the sofa. I have spoken to David Drew, who is on hand for any behavioral advice and was given tips but none of these are working particularly well at the moment. My cats run, he chases... its just too exciting not to! We are working on this and it has only been a month. The improvements he has made in this time are astonishing so we are keeping everything crossed.
He is also quite an anxious dog and is scared of motorbikes, men, dogs that run at him without a lead, sudden noises, bicycles and for the first 2 weeks wouldn't walk on the lead with my husband. He became very attached to me very quickly but struggled with other people.
Bob isn't the only one who needs to learn. He is the first dog my husband and I have ever had and we were worrying that we had taken on too much wondered if we were the right house and couple for him.
Then we took him to puppy class... Bob is 7 months old and I have spent time working at home on Sit, Stay, Leave It, Come here and Watch. We took him to the classes and they said that this is also what we will be working on for the first few sessions, so to see the other parents struggle with their puppies and be able to stand their smugly whilst my handsome boy showed off his skills made us much more calm and understanding of his ways and relax about certain aspects that we need to do a lot more work on.
He has won 2 rosettes (1st and 3rd) in local Dog Shows, both for most handsome dog, he loves cuddles, he would walk forever and will also lick you into submission! He sits on his own bed on the sofa, gets liver and venison as treats, is bathed in Lavender and has a hot water bottle to cuddle up to at night... spoilt doesn't even come close!
Bob is now a bit of a village legend and people regularly stop me to tell me how handsome he is and ask what breed, this also means I can share my knowledge and promote the Foundation and help in my little way to get more dogs like Bob new homes.
He knows his own way to the village pub and people always say hi to him before they say hi to me!
If you are ever wondering whether or not to get a dog then definitely contact Eve and the Foundation. They care passionately about their dogs and will make sure that the dog goes to the right home and is suitable. I would think hard about the type of dog you would like (personality I mean, not breed!) and what you need. There are so many dogs out there who deserve a good home and it doesn't matter if you have never had one before, we are doing OK!
- Katy Beckford