'“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.”
We had been thinking about getting a third pup to join our already pack of two for some time. Since joining Wild at Heart Foundation as an employee it was hard not to want to take all the pups home; so many heart wrenching stories, so many deserving dogs, so much love to give!
Sadly too many beautiful dogs will never experience the joy of what it is to be loved, and black dogs in particular tend to wait longer to be adopted than their differently coloured counterparts and it is difficult to secure them the forever homes they so richly deserve (‘black dog syndrome’). The cause for this can only be guessed at, but one theory is that facial features don’t show up with as much definition due to the darker fur color, leading people to make less of a connection with the dog based on photos alone.
Not for us though.
My beautiful black bear goes by the name of Hugo and when I saw him on the website my soul (and my parents!) saw him and kinda went, oh there you are… I’ve been looking for you all my life.
He’s entered our lives with the most gentle and loving personality and we cannot imagine life without him.
In our few short weeks of knowing him, he has already taught us some important life lessons.
1. Que Sera Sera. If events had followed their intended course Hugo would be in another home. The then called Thomas stared out at us from the adoption page, the last one of a litter of beautiful Dalmatian x puppies. 8 months old and still waiting for his forever home. We applied but sadly he had already been reserved. A few weeks passed and then we got an email that lovely Thomas’ home had fallen through. Maybe it was fate? We jumped on it and were told our beautiful boy would be with us just 2 weeks later. (Cue frantic present, toy, basket, treat buying!)
2. You don't know who you really are when life is lived at a wild and frantic pace. Huge scared brown eyes looked at us tentatively and he hid in the corner for 2 days. Terrified by experiences in a previous life and traumatized by the journey he cowered away from any attention. With 3 prominent cigarette burns and one on his head and flinching every time you moved your hand towards him, he’d clearly lived a nightmare. It broke our hearts. He was skittish and on guard, suspicious, waiting for our other dogs to attack him. He was so terrified one day when we let him out of the crate in the morning and they went over to sniff him he jumped on top of me and had to relieve himself whilst madly quivering.
But even 2 weeks later he is learning to ‘be more dog’. He loves to chase a ball and is learning how to swim, he is overly enthusiastic meeting new people and his bright personality shines through and the reason for these new emerging's are his environment; he now has an environment where his personal attributes are celebrated, he has love and calm and doesn’t have to worry about where to sleep or what he can eat. He’s taught us that environment and the space to be more you is so important for personal development.
3. When in doubt … HUG! Hugo’s first reaction in every situation is to give you his paw and wrap it around your leg, your waist, your neck; any event that causes him the slightest degree of confusion or fear he seeks our reassurance and needs our affection. Him and my mum are fairly inseparable, and I think it’s the special HUG he gives that makes all the difference. I catch them having a dance after dinner and a morning snuggle before anyone’s got up. It’s taught me how important it is to show affection and not to be scared to ask for it!
4. Everything should be explored through the art of eating… and by everything, I’m talking about plugs, spoons, butter pots, letters, important pieces of work, a kitchen towel, random pairs of socks, mums slippers, and the oven glove… maybe not such a life lesson after all!
5. There’s nothing like lying on your back with your feet in the air. Hugo is generally quite a bouncy curious kind of soul, but he has his more chilled out times too. After a long day walking, running into things, taking things he shouldn’t outside he is the poster boy of having down time….and by this I mean upside down time!
6. Unconditional love exists, and we should seek it. It’s like he’s been waiting for love his whole life. His unlimited loyalty and desire to shower you in joyful licks and hugs every time you enter the room (even if you’ve been gone all of 2 minutes for a loo break) without any kind of bitterness is a lesson well learnt. He had us when we first saw his baby browns.
Nearly 2 months in and with a lot of love and a lot of biscuits, a few tears, some nasty tummy bugs and a lot of large hugs later our new BFF is completely adored by our whole family- including his little monster brothers Wooster and Monty.
He spends his time mostly frolicking in the sea on Hayling Island and snitching things from the kitchen table (did I mention he is HUGE HUGO) and is fast becoming a neighbourhood favourite. (even the post lady brings daily treats).
The gentlest dog I have ever met, eager to please and quick to learn; we still have a long road ahead of us, but I’m so glad we’re going to do it together. The specialist of companions with the brave open heart of a rescue dog; able to give so much despite a tough beginning.
We’re going to spend our lives making up for it for him. Thanks WaHF for our gorgeous sunny ‘Cypriot Hugs’.'
- Hannah Glasgow