'When my husband suggested that we might want to start thinking about another addition to our family, I was relieved to hear he meant the canine variety, rather than a 4th child. I had been following a couple of Wild at Heart Foundation dogs on Instagram for a while, so I knew exactly where to look and immediately started trawling the adopt page of the website. A friend of ours has a grey poodle-mix rescue from Greece and when I saw Teddy, I was taken aback by how similar he was to Mr Bear…. and the names – it was clearly meant to be.
When I initially contacted WAHF, I was disappointed to learn that someone had already reserved Teddy, but a few weeks later Eve emailed to let us know the circumstances had changed and he was available again!
The WAHF team did a FaceTime house-check, following which we received lots of helpful information and the adoption form, which was straightforward. The idea of collecting him from a van in a service station car park in the middle of the night struck us as a little strange, but we received assurances that it was perfectly normal. And then week before his arrival date, we suddenly got really nervous about having a rescue dog, so I emailed Eve asking if they could send a recent video of him – less than 24h later, we were all crowded round our laptop oohing and aahing at how lovely he was!
And so Teddy arrived home on a particularly chilly evening in September 2017. After a long journey from Cyprus, he was cold, tired and a bit scared, but some chicken and rice and a good sleep (with no whimpering) worked wonders and by the morning he was ready to show us his true colours.
Day one involved a trip to the park where it was wonderful to see the sheer excitement emanating from him at the amount of space and grass and dogs and people and trees and balls and a river and huge muddy puddles and and and…. the happiest puppy in all of England! We kept him on the lead for a few days, because we wanted to be sure he was secure with us and knew how to get home, but within a week, we felt able to take him off the lead and his recall was better than we expected, albeit not perfect.
Ted is unbelievably gentle and calm 80% of the time, and utterly bonkers the other 20%, which almost perfectly mirrors the characteristics of our children.
Friends have commented on how lucky we’ve been to get such an easy-going dog. In the park, people admire his ability to bounce around like Tigger.
Teddy definitely has some areas for improvement, but they relate to his age and are easily fixable. Now that he is completely settled, we need to get on and sort out some training for him. Who needs Marie Kondo when you have a Ted that can single-handedly destroy the contents of wardrobes, shoes, rugs, cushions, belts, leads, soft toys, books, handbags, plastic bags and school bags?
And at home, he is loved, hugged, carried, prodded and played with non-stop and has become a big part of our family life. Our 9 year old even admits that she gets out more and watches less TV with him around. It feels to us like he’s always been here and I genuinely think we have struck gold. Thank you WAHF for changing our lives for the better!'
- Amanda Cherry
'I will try make this story short, in real life it is a whole book. Well, let's start from the beginning!
I have a wonderful animal lover Instagram friend in the UK name Christina and one day she tagged me in a picture of a very cute dog and said something like "look at this cute dog, she must be a whippet". I just liked the picture and replied "yes, very cute!". At that moment this picture of this tiny skinny dog got stuck in my head.
Days passed and then I got a emergency message from my friend "You need to share this post they are in big need of help 40+ dogs needs home asap!". Of course I shared the post and then this picture of the dog popped up in my head again. I messaged and asked Eve if she was adopted and no, she had no home offer. Bea was not one of the 40+ dogs but she was about to be euthanised in a council pound in another part of Cyprus. And that was the start of my first mission to convince my hubby that we could have a 3rd dog.
I screenshotted her picture on my iPad and started to work on my hubby. I started to show her picture and read her post and said how sad it was that she was going to be euthanized. He said "Yes that's horrible, very sad." Every evening before bed for a whole week I was showing him the picture and said "Look at her she will die soon!" After a weeks work he said yes we can foster her. YES!
It was a start. I emailed Eve and so the adoption process started. We had our home check and we had an agreement of an adoption. I told WAHF I will never let Bea go to another family. And I never will.
Now it was on. Bea was neutered in Cyprus and received all vaccines. She was cared for until her flight to Sweden was arranged and booked. Words can't describe my feelings when I first saw this skinny, happy little dog. First my oldest dog wasn't too nice to Bea when first meeting her. I separated them with a little fence between them for a long time before I could have them getting along in the same room without being apart.
The other challenge was to get her calm. Bea ran like crazy, she was not playing all the time, she was fearful and running for her life inside and outside. I had to be quick and catch her when she came running so she didn't hurt herself or anyone else. It took two years for her to understand no one is chasing her. The worst experience I have had with her was after we'd had her for two weeks and my husband took her for a bike run. When they came back my husband was pleased and we thought she was too, until I got the leash and she bit my arm. It was not a fun experience but I wasn't afraid, I saw she was afraid. The experience from the bike run for her was that she was running in a place she had never been before. She continued running but was so scared so when she came to the one she felt safe with all her fear suddenly let loose and that was on me. I asked a dog behaviourist about the situation and this is what she told me. Bea didn't mean to hurt me, she was just afraid.
I have trained Bea for many years as I have done with my old dogs. She's always been wonderful to my kids, never growls or shows her teeth to anyone. We are still teaching her that she doesn't need to say hi to every single dog we see. She barks very much like a siren if she isn't allowed to meet and say hi to passing dogs. She is very clever, kind, lovable and alert and I love her to death. I never regret bringing Bea into our home. She will now be safe and loved for the rest of her life.
I hope this story helps and that people get strength to keep training and fighting to help these poor wonderful souls who need families and love and consistent upbringing, the same all dogs need. Love. Family. Freedom.'
- Katrin Franzen
'I have always wanted a dog and eventually through being able to work more from home I decided to explore the possibilities.
As my home is quite small I decided to get a small dog who was settled. I found a lot of the UK charities’ smaller dogs were the first to be selected, and I was never quick enough to make a decision. I then read an article in Harpers Bazaar about WAHF, so filled in their application form online.
Very quickly I was sent a photograph of Meli (Greek for Honey) who was a street dog from Cyprus and was being looked after while she had her puppies. I immediately fell in love with her brown expressive eyes.
WAHF made it so easy to adopt Meli and I had time to prepare while she was busy feeding her babies. I must add Meli arrived in the UK, neutered, fully vaccinated and micro-chipped with a passport.
Collecting Meli with my sister was a memorable day, nearly a year ago! She arrived so quiet after her long journey and didn’t eat very much. Over the next few days we had time to bond and understand each other. I found her to be so quiet and gentle and she loved being cuddled and feeling secure. Even though she was a Mummy she was also a very young dog still.
She was afraid of loud noises and anything behind her but eventually she grew in confidence and has been the most perfect dog. She is extremely intelligent and easy to train, she is loving and so gentle. She is also very sociable with dogs and children but only for a short time. I am pleased to say she now enjoys playing with toys, something I don’t think she did before. The most endearing thing about Meli is how she likes to put on her collar and lead, it’s almost like she is saying she is happy to be owned and loved.
My local vet feels a lot of rescue dogs make very good pets as they are so grateful. I get asked about Meli whenever I am out walking with her, she really is adorable, well I would say that!
Today Meli is my shadow, I feel I'm missing something when she is not around. She brings great joy to me and my family and friends and even my work colleagues and would not hesitate to recommend WAHF.
In fact my neighbour adopted a gorgeous dog from Romania a few months later through WAHF, another success story.
A huge thank you to WAHF for making the world a better place.'
- Emma Clarke
'We saw Timmy on the Wild at Heart Foundation website after looking into getting a dog for 2 years and fell in love straight away. Our family and friends were worried about us adopting online as they heard of some negative experiences. We were so glad Wild at Heart Foundation proved them wrong. The adoption process was very easy, it took a bit of time getting him to the UK but it was well worth the wait.
The 2 and a half hour journey to pick him up was exciting and nerve-racking, so much so we missed the turning and added an extra 20 minutes to our journey! Our first meeting, Timmy was excited and nervous.
It didn't take him long to settle in. He made himself at home pretty quickly. Training has been a breeze, living in flat we were worried about toilet training but we have never had any accidents.
Everyone that comes into contact with Timmy loves him. He is spoilt by all our family. We really struck lucky as he is such a loving boy who is now a big part of our family.'
- Nicole Wells
'Earlier this year I was desperate to get a dog, my elderly Cairn Terrier was going blind and at 16 was in his twilight years. I was introduced to WAHF by a friend and they sent me details about Otto a scruffy Heinz 57 from Cyprus. A few weeks later, my daughter and I picked him up from a service station and by the time we got him home we were in love.
What can I say about Otto? Honestly, everyone who meets him falls in love with him too! He is so friendly, loving, gentle and trustworthy. I was concerned he may have food issues and separated the dogs at meal times, soon to realise there was no need. I can take away his bowl, other dogs can eat from his bowl, Otto doesn’t mind. Right from the start he was clean in the house, he has no separation anxiety, rarely barks and he loves his walks. To my surprise (and relief!) his recall is brilliant and the sight of him tearing towards me when I call him makes me so happy.
Sadly my Cairn passed away in August and I don’t know how I’d have got through it without Otto, I believe he was sent to me for a reason and I can’t thank you all at WAHF enough for bringing him into my life!'
- Nicky Moore
'First it was a dream that my incredibly Type-A self presented to my other half via a PowerPoint titled ‘The Puppy Plan’.
Then there was Kiwi, a sleepy looking Labrador pup we instantly fell in love with on the WAHF website.
Seeing her way over in Cyprus was far more effective than my ten PowerPoint slides and off we went with the application process to offer her a forever home.
Kiwi’s hardship in finding a home was a stroke of luck for us and I can’t imagine our home without her face peering up at us at all times. Despite being ever so prepared, September came and her arrival day was incredibly emotional. There I was bawling my eyes out that this little one was finally here while poor Kiwi was probably just wondering where she was and WHY oh WHY it was so cold. She fell asleep on my lap on the drive back and just like that, she was home.
From day one she’s been an absolute dream - we had fears of her crying all night, destroyed cushions or intense separation anxiety. None of that happened, other than an odd fascination for chewing flip-flops (it’s been two months and we are on pair no.4), and as cheesy as it sounds, I really can’t remember what life was like before she got here.
She’s nosy, forever hungry and has a cemetery of stuffed toys she’s methodically gutted. She’s a joy to watch run around at the park with her buddies and nothing beats not just her tail but her entire backside wagging when we get home from work.
Two months in and a few health mishaps (relentless bronchitis!) behind us, I am so incredibly grateful to WAHF for the chance they have given us to offer Kiwi a loving home. I am constantly amazed at how quickly she found her place amongst us and picked her spot on the sofa.
We have lots to do in the way of training, and I swear some day soon she’s going to run up a tree after a squirrel, but the rewards of adopting Kiwi far outweigh the uncertainties that came with bringing home a pup we’d never met.
In short, she’s the best leap of faith we ever took.'
- Victoire Frencia
'When me and my family decided we were ready to have a dog, a friend of mine started advocating for us getting a rescue dog. I was a little bit sceptical at first, for the same reasons most people are, 'are we good enough to take care of a dog that might have gone through hardship' etc. Then she tagged me on Wild at Heart Foundation's Instagram, for a dog that just seemed too good to be true. Good natured, calm, good with kids. We fell in love already with the picture of Scout.
And not to sound too sentimental, but we’ve fallen in love with her every day since she arrived. WaHF definitely didn’t 'oversell' her. She is the calmest, sweetest dog I’ve ever met. It’s silly how easy she adapted to her new life in our shouty family in a busy East London area. And she’s a therapy dog as well! One of my daughters friends used to be terrified of dogs, but after meeting Scout she’s not anymore.
After two years with Scout we decided to get another one, along came Bo, also from Cyprus and through Wild at Heart Foundation. The adoption process went very smoothly, just as with Scout. Almost the same day Bo arrived, Scout got really ill and had to spend a few days in hospital. Turns out she had leishmania, which she might have caught when we took her on our holiday to Tuscany, Italy, in the summer, or maybe even back in Cyprus. However, with the right medication she’s absolutely fine now and as bright as ever.
Having a new little dog-sister probably helped her heal; although the little one might annoy her sometimes it’s lovely to watch them play and cuddle up together to sleep. It’s a little bit more work having two dogs, but it’s also double the love. Anyone hesitant about taking in a rescue dog should stop worrying; Wild at Heart provides information about 'your' dog that is definitely true, I’ve heard this from other adopters too. And the support you get should any problem occur is amazing. Scout wasn’t my first dog, but surely first-time-dog-owners could adopt, too.
More and more of the dogs we meet in the parks around are rescue dogs. My experience, actually backed up by our vet, is that it is the pure breeds that come across most health problems. A lot of the puppies in the UK comes from so called ”puppy factories”, where they are taken from their mum too early and might have severe problems with their temperament and/or health.
I’m so happy we got to adopt Scout and Bo. Couldn’t recommend Wild at Heart Foundation, Eve, and the rest of the lovely people working there, more!'
- Rebecka Ahlund
'Although we had always loved the idea of getting a dog, we hadn’t actually sat down and made the decision that the time was right. I’d been following the Wild At Heart Foundation social media pages for some time when suddenly one afternoon up popped Fergus! I was instantly drawn to his expressive amber eyes and his happy little face and THEN I read his story....
Fergus and his brother were rescued by Eve's family from the side of the road in Cyprus as tiny puppies. They’d always been together and had both been overlooked by adopters time and time again despite their friendly, loyal and loving natures. Now at 9 months old, his brother had found his forever home and was about to leave for the UK and Fergus was going to be left behind. I read his story to my fiancé out loud and we both said simultaneously ‘we have to have him!’ - we just knew he was the dog for us. You could say it was love at first sight I suppose.
I quickly messaged Eve to see if Fergus was still available for adoption and we were thrilled to find out that he was! We passed our home check with the lovely Faith which was an extremely positive and helpful experience. Faith spent time answering all of our questions and gave us lots of really helpful advice. Faith told us that his brother was flying to the UK in just three weeks time and asked if we’d be ready for Fergus by then. We really wanted them to travel together so said ‘YES!’
We’ve had Fergus for two months now and he is coming up to a year old. He’s a bundle of energy and excitement but is the most loving and loyal little thing. I say ‘little’ - he’s actually pretty big now! We think Fergus is a black lab crossed with a large dog like a Shepherd or Husky so he needs lots of exercise. We’ve found a wonderful dog walker who takes him for a really good run around with a group of dogs on days when we’re both working - Fergus has made lots of doggy friends through these walks but his very best friend is a black lab called Billy. We love taking Fergus for long walks and have discovered beautiful parts of countryside nearby which I never even knew existed! This is definitely one of the many benefits of having a dog.
We’ve just started training classes with Fergus which have really helped us, especially as first time dog owners - luckily Fergus LOVES his food and is very eager to please so this makes training a bit easier. He’s also just learning to play Fetch! We can’t wait until we can play fetch with him in the park.
Adopting Fergus hasn’t come without its challenges but as we’re getting to know Fergus we’re learning how to deal with these. He absolutely loves affection and belly rubs, but on his terms. We’ve learnt that it’s best to let Fergus come to you, especially with different people, otherwise he can get a little anxious. Once he’s decided he trusts you though he can’t get enough belly rubs and you’ll receive lots of dog kisses in return!
Fergus is still learning good manners on the lead. He’ll be walking along nicely on the lead when suddenly he’ll spot his nemesis.... a squirrel! If I don’t spot it first then that’s me being taken for a quick dash by Fergus! I almost ended up half way up a tree once. Nice lead walking takes a lot of persistence but we can definitely notice progress and that motivates us to stick with it.
Fergus is a lot fun and has brought so much joy to our lives. There’s nothing better than coming home from a day at work to be greeted by such a loving happy dog. You can’t help but smile - he just makes us feel so loved! And of course we love him so much in return.
We’ll never forget the moment that we picked Fergus up from the service station. We told the guys that we were collecting Fergus and they smiled and replied “Ah Fergus... he’s the timid one. We’ve had to carry him everywhere!” It’s been an absolute joy to watch him grow in confidence since that evening and we get to see a little more of his wonderful personality every day. We still have a long way to go and lots more training to do but we are absolutely loving the journey.
If you’re thinking of getting a dog, I would absolutely recommend adopting from WAHF. We’ve felt so supported every step of the way. There are so many wonderful dogs out there like Fergus who would love nothing more than a forever home and humans to love them. Adopting Fergus is quite simply the best thing we’ve ever done. Thank you to the WAHF team - we will forever be grateful for everything that you’ve done for us all.'
- Kimberly Groves
'Mike and I had discussed getting a dog for a long time and having grown up with rescue dogs there was really no other option in my opinion. I discovered Wild at Heart Foundation through the blog ‘The Londoner’ and immediately loved their whole ethos. I started following them on all forms of social media, not realising how quickly I would fall in love with a little blonde beauty from Romania. We were in the middle of buying a house and everything just fell into place - 4 days after exchanging the gorgeous Rula (originally known as Bonnie) popped up on my Instagram feed and I was besotted. The application process was thorough, well organised and easy to follow. We completed our home check on the day we got the keys to our new house and 10 days later, in Feb 2017 Rula arrived.
As she was passed to us, off the back of a very noisy van, she snuggled up into Mike’s arms before being carried into the house. We thought she was perfect. We were so distracted by her cuteness that we forgot the first instruction we were meant to follow and she had an accident in the house….completely our fault! However, we were lucky, this was the only accident she ever had. Somehow we had a house trained puppy, it was a miracle!
Rula was very shy to start with as she entered her new surroundings, having a sniff around the house and keeping her distance from us. She needed a bath but considering she had been travelling for four days she was not really mucky at all! The first time I tried to take her out the house was to visit the vet to register her, she point blank refused to move and I ended up carrying her to and from. It took some time for her to be happy leaving the house, she didn’t like her lead and harness, she didn’t like going out the front door and she definitely didn’t like when it was dark outside. We used a lot of gentle coaxing and eventually she realised that outside was a wonderful place with lots of new things to sniff and lots of squirrels to chase.
As time went on she came out of her shell and developed into an extremely intelligent, cheeky and playful pup. Even more perfect than we initially thought! The first ever outing for the three of us was to the pub, she fell asleep under the table and seemed to feel as at home in our local as we do. Since then she has come with us to pubs, restaurants, street food markets and on day trips on the train to visit friends out of town. She loves travelling on the tube, she learnt early on that if she lies down in the middle of the walkway she gets an abundance of attention from the people around her. Spontaneous nights out don’t happen as often as they used to but when they do they are to dog friendly venues and she comes with us.
She has fitted in with our lifestyle well, as a social couple in central London we wanted to make sure that she would be out and about with us as often as possible! She is loved by our friends and family, the workers at her day care and other dog owners at the park. When we are on holiday or weekends away we get a lot of offers to take care of her and on nights out I think it is actually Rula people want to see, we just also happen to be there!
We don’t really know what kind of mix Rula is and everyone has their opinions on what she is (generally collie mixed with anything from Kokoni to Australian Sheepdog to Shiba Inu). We often get asked if she is a ‘designer’ breed and I am always very proud to say that she is a one off special. The only thing we can be 100% sure of is that she runs extremely fast and loves to stalk other dogs before pouncing on them to play. She does require a good long walk each day and we have a wonderful day care that she goes to a couple of times a week. She is extremely social with other dogs and at day care she gets the chance to spend hours in woodlands playing with dogs of all different ages and sizes. Every time she returns a slightly grubby and exhausted dog.
We are very lucky that Mike works from home most days so she generally just chills out with him until it is time to go out. In the winter months we arrange for a dog walker to come during the day so she doesn’t have to go out in the dreaded dark. She has puzzles and toys to keep her entertained in the house and she loves to ‘re-landscape’ our garden often. She doesn’t like the rain or puddles (heaven forbid she gets her paws wet!) and would rather have no walk than one in the rain. Whilst this may seem great, as no one really likes to walk in the rain, it can result in a very playful pup jumping on you at 2am wanting some exercise!
Rula seems to be terrified of foxes and there is noticeable panic when she hears them in the night. We have spoken to the dog behaviourist that WAHF works with (David) and he has offered some great advice and homework for us to work on! Unfortunately, it is not the easiest thing to work on as we can not properly introduce her to a fox and we can not keep them away. We hope eventually she won’t be so bothered by them but this is a work in progress.
We have spent a lot of time on her training and whilst she isn’t going to enter Crufts any time soon she follows most of our commands and is a well behaved dog. It took a while to get her off lead and we still use high value treats to ensure she comes back to us when there are better options in the park. It is amazing how she can suddenly become deaf in one ear when there is a dog she wants to play with across the common!
I can’t speak highly enough of WAHF and the work that they do. They have been incredibly supportive on our journey and I have always felt that they were there if we needed any help. The Facebook group is a wonderful support network for when things are going well and for when they are more difficult. Whilst there are some struggles, every day with Rula is one full of fun and new adventures. No matter how stressful and manic your day is, everything is forgotten when you walk through the door to her wagging not just her tail but most of her body.
She has made our new house a proper home.'
- Samantha Harlow
'When Daisy was carried in by my husband on the cold dark December night, emotions and excitement were high and we instantly fell in love with her. From the timid, shy puppy who hid behind the kitchen table for the first few hours, it’s hard to believe she’s the same dog with her endless energy from the over-joyous hello we are welcomed with every morning to last thing at night.
It’s true to say Daisy has changed our lives; my husband is a stone lighter with the early mornings in the park Daisy chasing her new friends, I feel fitter plus we’ve discovered the most beautiful walks in the local woods, surrounding Surrey hills, lengthy walks along beaches and hours of fetching the stick in rivers. She’s adored by all who meet her and with her unique spots she’s quite unforgettable.
We seriously can’t thank Eve and WAHF for their love and support, for bringing Daisy over from Cyprus and making our lives special every day feeling blessed to have her as part of our family. You are all most admirable for all your hard and continuous work you carry out for dogs across the globe.
One last thing, I would strongly recommend Pointer breeds to anyone with children; she adores our girls and is gentle and friendly not only with people but with every canine friend she meets. Just remember labs or pointers do need a lot of daily exercise.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
- Sophie Kirkpatrick
'Velvet and Daphne came as a pair. When they’d been discovered, locked up and abandoned in Cyprus, they’d tried to separate them, but Daphne - once known as Velma, but answering to Daphne immediately; from a previous life perhaps? - refused to leave her best friend’s side, so they were taken and rehomed as a duo. I say rehomed, but of course they’d never known a home, or seen grass, or bodies of water, woods, cities, warm radiators, television programs.
My partner and I already had Dudley, an elderly philosopher of a Jack Russell, and hadn’t been looking for two more, but there was something about their story, their bond, not to mention their cooky looks (Daphne a sturdy demi-basset, Velvet an elegant, inky, carry-on-size pointer) that was impossible to resist. It all happened very quickly, we reserved them, went through the checks with the incredibly helpful and compassionate staff at WAHF and three weeks later – in a scene that might have been from James Bond - we had a midnight rendezvous in a windswept car park outside London.
They were, like so many of the doggies that have left testimonials here, exhausted, disorientated and frightened. We live half in West Sussex and half in central London, as well as travelling a lot (always with dogs) so we thought, after a few bit-by-bit, paw-by-paw days settling in, we should get them used to the life adventurous, packed them into the back of the wagon and did a Christmas tour of the country to see family members and get them used to the excitingly never-ending versions of life outside of a dog pound. Yes there were setbacks, issues from time to time, but what was, and is, so amazing, so heartwarming and, frankly, so tear-inducing, is how brave they are, how keen to learn, how quick to be kind and sociable. Life: they just seem to get it.
In case you hadn’t guessed, I love dogs, Ali does too. Both of us always have and always will. They’ve been around us since childhood - my official christening photo featured baby-me swaddled between two bassets – but this experience, of adopting dogs, has been a new one and I have a feeling it will be the most fulfilling, and thrilling, chapter to date. I’ve just spent two years writing a new novel (Tomorrow, published by Penguin in May). The story spans centuries, seen through the eyes of a dog that is 217 years old, as he searches amidst the courts and battlefields of Europe for the master who granted him immortality. It is an emotional and epic story, but at its heart is a simple thing: the relationship between human and dog, that most ancient of bonds and most pure form of love. Not that I needed reminding, but Daphne and Velvet have brought it all back to me in the most startling way possible.'
- Damian Dibben
"This is Teddy, formally known as Arti. A mix between a poodle and a kokoni spaniel cross from Cyprus.
We are a family who absolutely adores dogs and have always had dogs growing up. Last February our beautiful springer spaniel Dizzy who was nearly 18 years old was put down, which left our labrador Archie all on his own. It was hard to know when the right time was to get another dog but I had been trying and trying to persuade my parents to adopt our next one from Wild at Heart Foundation. Archie surprisingly didn’t seem that bothered about being on his own but I really believe that having two dogs is so important when that is what you have been used to growing up.
We contacted Wild at Heart Foundation and filled out all the forms and completed all the checks, it was a really easy process and everyone we spoke to were great. Eve was so amazing at organising everything and helping us find the right dog. We didn’t really have much of an idea as to what type of dog we wanted, but we knew we wanted a puppy and a cross breed.
When the day finally arrived and Teddy was handed to us from the van we were so excited, he on the other hand was pretty terrified. He was much smaller than we had expected him to be and was wearing an adorable red hooded jumper to keep him warm. The first few days were very scary for Teddy he was extremely cautious of other people and very nervous when you made any loud noises or quick movements. He did however form a very quick bond with Archie and they very quickly became the best of friends, well that’s what Teddy thought anyway.
With a bit of time and care from all of us and giving Teddy lots of cuddles and kisses he soon grew in confidence. It is amazing what a little bit of love and affection can do to a rescue dog and why we feel it is so important to adopt. Teddy is still a bit nervous around new people, especially if they are loud, but that nervousness doesn't last long. It is amazing how different he has become in the few months that we have had him. He has such a character and follows Archie everywhere. He has got into the habit of trying to snatch Archie’s toys that he has from his mouth and thinks it is a really fun game to play but as he is so small he always loses and Archie soon gets bored and tells him off.
When Teddy is in the garden he is totally bonkers, running about everywhere and trying to chase Archie and bite his legs; quite the annoying puppy sometimes! He is very well behaved and we believe that's because Archie is such a well-trained labrador and so Teddy is learning everything from his big brother. He is very good on the lead and when we let him off he comes back very promptly. He is totally obsessed with food which is surprising for such a small dog and has learnt that whenever we let him outside the back of the house to go for a wee he knows that when he comes back he is rewarded with a small treat. He is an intelligent little chap. He is such a funny character and we couldn’t love him more. I know that he is going to be a very important part of our household. Even though he much smaller than we thought he would be we love his little stumpy legs and his funny personality. Mum says that around 9pm every evening he goes to pick up his red hoodie that he arrived in that is normally hidden in his bed and has a mad 10 minutes throwing it around the kitchen, and then after that he falls asleep.
Thank you so much to WAHF, Eve and everyone else that was involved in helping us find Teddy. I am so happy and proud to have adopted a dog from WAHF and we can’t imagine our lives without him.
- Fay Murray
'Having relocated from Liverpool to London, and with it my adoring and gorgeous family dog (Fosse) 10 years ago, I talked constantly of getting a dog in London. Whenever anyone asked whether I missed Liverpool and why I visited so frequently, it was always Fosse (also a rescue dog).
2017 was a big year where I decided to make some much needed lifestyle changes, leaving my job and becoming freelance, moving flats so I had a garden and the final part - getting a puppy to make my flat a home!
I always knew it would be a rescue pup, as I simply don't understand why you would do other! Having scoured a few websites, my boss at the time and fabulous friend Caroline introduced me to WAHF and when we saw Bruce it was love at first sight!
Bruce was marked reserved when I saw him online, but I completed the adoption form explaining that Bruce was exactly what I was looking for. WAHF shortly got in touch to say his family had fallen through and did I want him still. Fate was working in my favour!
His arrival date was Saturday 9th September and I was in Vegas on holiday! My Mum and two friends offered to collect Bruce for me and settle him into my flat before my return on the Monday. Although he arrived smelling worse than anything they had ever smelt he was a hit instantly and won hearts straight away, including mine on Facetime!
He was nervous of both other dogs and people in the first weeks, but his journey is remarkable. He has the most brilliant personality and has enjoyed each and every adventure. He now lives his London life to the full frequenting pubs, restaurants, puppy daycare and travelling by train. He is infamous locally and is so handsome he always wins over many fans!
Brucey is full of energy and is relentless in his quest for mischief but absolutely adorable and I wouldn't change him for the world (well other than better behaved!!!). I have been extremely fortunate that friends and family have welcomed him and help when I'm working in the evenings and Bruce loves nothing more than spending time with our friends or in daycare with his canine friends. It is unbelievable he has only been in our lives for 3 months, it has been a whirlwind of destruction, naughtiness but most notably unconditional love.
He is really well socialised and having the support of Dave to help with his quirks is invaluable. Thank you to Dave, Eve, Alicia and of course Nikki who are an inspiration with the work that they do. You are amazing and both Bruce and I are forever grateful. I couldn't hold WAHF in higher regard - it is incredible what they do and how many lives (both canine and human) they constantly change and they are with you every step of the way.
It has been such a success story my Mum has gone on to adopt gorgeous Medo, seen in the photo with Fosse and Bruce.
Best tip - I played a fireworks sound effects album from early on, whilst Brucey was confident and relaxed at home, building up to playing it whilst we were out walking (yes I looked like a crazy lady!!) resulting in him being as calm as anything on firework night.
- Kia Hanly
'After much consideration and discussion over a period of around 6 to 8 months we had decided as a family to add another dog to our unit. We had become aware of Wild at Heart Foundation via a friend and spent some time looking online at the dogs available for adoption. Given we already had two Jack Russell Terriers aged nine and seven we wanted another dog that would benefit from their companionship and also compliment them.
Barney's profile ticked all the boxes.
We filled out the online application and went through the process and were delighted when we were informed that we would be a suitable forever home for Barney! Barney was described as a collie cross and had been rescued from the Praca dog shelter in Bosnia by Eve and Alicia at WAHF.
We finally collected Barney in mid September 2017 from kennels in Lincolnshire. We were a little apprehensive on collecting him as we had been advised that morning by the kennel staff that he was very agitated and somewhat distressed. He was so scared that he was showing signs of fear aggression. However, we were committed to this young dog and loaded him into the car in a suitable cage and brought him back home.
He was fine on the journey and just looked petrified. We had to drop a blanket over his cage to lift him from the car into the garden as he was unhappy at the prospect of being moved. When we let him out and he headed straight for a bush in the garden and stayed put for the first 30 minutes! Eventually he came out and a couple of hours later we were able to get near enough to release his harness.
We gave him plenty of space and time over the first 48 hours and he soon settled. Baby steps were then taking in terms of introducing a collar and lead and small walks. Then some recall work and basic commands as well as trying to establish some sort of routine. 10 weeks on and he is a different dog. His personality is shining through and he is becoming more confident daily.
Barney is fantastic on a lead and also great off it. He enjoys his daily walks and new adventures - albeit he is still very apprehensive of strangers (he seems to have an oddball radar!!) and unsure in the odd ‘busy’ situation he has encountered. He is a wonderful companion and has a fantastic nature. He is beautiful, gentle dog who is coming on slowly but surely and we would not be without him.
It has been fantastic seeing him happy and content and observing his personality grow. He Loves digging the odd hole or twelve in the garden and even managed to eat a Law book the other day that I left in my laptop bag - I think he is torn between being a landscape gardener and a solicitor when he grows up! Dinky our eldest Jack Russel (10 now) used to tell him off constantly at first but she has now succumbed to his charm and boyish good looks and they will happily play for long periods of time.
We think the work done by the Foundation is fantastic and would certainly recommend them to anyone thinking of adopting a dog.'
- Gavin Clarke
'Hank's so handsome (yep, the cliché rings true - all dog owners believe theirs is the best looking, no point in debating it), people often stop to ask us what breed he is and where he's from. Some people find it weird when we say he's a rescue from Cyprus, not from a British animal welfare shelter or charity. Even weirder if we reveal that we picked him out on Instagram, and then he was handed to us at a motorway rest-stop carpark at midnight a few weeks later. But for us, he's just Hank and he came to us the only way a cute, odd little peanut like him could.
I grew up with rescue labradors and have wanted my own pup for years. Luckily my husband also loves dogs (and, being Aussie, finds himself on the other side of the world to his) and after talking about it for a couple of years, we finally realised that 'finding the right moment' was never going to happen. So we took the plunge and after hearing about the amazing work that the Wild at Heart Foundation does, we went through their short but thorough vetting process and began to stalk all the various shelter feeds on Instagram and Facebook. So it was one Sunday morning, while doing some obligatory scrolling in bed, that I came across an adorable, sandy coloured pup who'd been abandoned with his mum, tied to a tree by the roadside. There was our boy, perfect even down to his given name which suits him beyond measure.
14 months on from picking up our quivering little peanut by the M25, he's grown into his paws (if not his ears) and become a slightly bigger, cuter and odder peanut. We've had, and continue to have, our ups and downs. Rescue dogs come with a certain type of baggage (although, don't we all). Hank has come a long way, although he's still funny about doorways, buses and tall men, prone to digging up the garden left to his own devices for 45 seconds, has serious selective hearing if foxes, cats or squirrels are about and his non-stop scavenging instinct is a constant source of worry. This isn’t restricted to food by the way, a plastic bag is among his recently ingested items (sigh).
But! His sweet 'chatter', affectionate nature, beardily beautiful face and infectious energy have us completely hooked, and anyone else who meets him quickly falls under the spell too. Hank won best in class at the mixed breed category at the Marylebone dog show about a month after we got him (this was a complete accident by the way, we were walking past and they asked us to join in!), and we now know he's a Segugio Italiano mix-breed. Even Nikki herself is a fan of this lovable rogue! He's helped us make new friends in an area we'd already lived in for four years and having the Wild at Heart community on tap for advice and general dog-joy is great. Watching Hank grow in confidence and knowing we've been able to give him a good shot at life is truly the best (and worth all the rascal moments).'
- Louisa Nash
'After spending over a year visiting local dog shelters and constantly checking their websites we found we were struggling to find the right dog for us. We started looking further afield at websites of dog charities throughout the UK and by chance found the Wild at Heart Foundation website. We were amazed at the diverse selection of dogs and within a few weeks we saw a lovely little dog called Tikka. When we read about her she sounded absolutely perfect for us.
We contacted WaHF only to be informed that Tikka had been reserved. We were quite sad when we heard this as we had both saved a picture of Tikka on our phones and couldn’t stop talking about her. Even though she had been reserved we decided to email WaHF to see if Tikka had been taken. After a few weeks of not hearing back I found a mobile number and decided to text them.
It turned out that I had used the wrong email address and we discovered the reservation on Tikka had fallen through, as we were so interested she was reserved for us, we could not believe our luck.
After completing an adoption form and having a videophone interview we were informed our application had been successful and we were going to adopt Tikka. We were beyond excited! The few weeks we waited seemed like an eternity but eventually we had a text to say when and where we should pick Tikka up.
The following week we were setting off at 4am to go and meet Tikka and bring her home and when we finally met her we could not believe how lucky we were, she was a delight.
Tikka is the most beautiful little dog, slightly naughty sometimes and always full of energy but she is so loving and she has totally captured our hearts. We have taken Tikka to dog training and she has already passed bronze and silver and has just started gold level training.
I could not imagine what life would be like without Tikka and I would thoroughly recommend WaHF to anyone wanting to adopt a dog.'
- Baz Lorenzo
'Nikki is the most wonderful dog we could have ever asked for and we are beyond happy that we adopted. For sure there have been tough times but we, especially Marco, is very strict and trains a lot with her. I would say that two years after adopting her we are definitely seeing the benefits of all the hard work especially when being confronted by new challenges.
Having our son was an extremely exciting time however we did worry about how Nikki would react because she was always used to all of our attention and a lot of it! We treat her like our daughter!
Nikki has adapted so well to sharing attention and especially sharing her mommy. She has created a very strong bond with Marco and even our son. She runs to him when he cries and sits by him when we aren’t right next to him. When going for walks she will not run too far away from the stroller. The best is that she is not extremely interested in him, if he makes a loud sudden noise or cries she doesn’t jump or get scared she mainly ignores it except for checking on him.
We have definitely worked hard with her. When we first got her house training was very tough especially because she wasn’t used to getting a lot of food so her stomach would have a hard time adjusting to new foods. She ate anything and everything on the streets of London, she pulled on the leash and cried and barked her lungs out if we left her at home alone. It takes a lot of discipline to adopt a dog as you never know what traumas they will come to you with. Nikki was very frightened of men when we first got her and oddly enough believes she’s in invincible to cars she would run infront of one and just assume that they will stop for her.
Also after many times of swimming in the lake and ocean with no trouble Nikki began just swimming out into the middle of the lake or ocean for no apparent reason luckily we always managed to catch her before anything happened (but she did swim very fast) however we have gotten a grip on that issue too.
With whatever issue she might have had or still might get we deal with it as necessary and take it one step at a time. She really is so wonderful and I believe we got very lucky with her she fits into our little family so perfectly.'
- Caroline Bodum
'Our Bosnian Simon arrived just seven months ago, and the night we collected him from Cobham Service Station the man who arrived in the van with all the dogs in (we were the only people from WAHF, the others were from different charities) pulled open the door of the van at the side where all the cages were. It was obvious that he was a man of very little words – he spoke to none of us, except to say one thing. He pointed at Simon and said “this nice dog”. I think that about sums Simon up! We knew he had had one ear cut off, poor chap, and we had seen a wonderful video of him that Alicia had kindly sent back from Bosnia. He is aged somewhere between 5 and 7, I don’t think he’s ever been up any stairs before, but the most wonderful surprise was that he was completely house-trained.
He has been a total joy, he is sweet and incredibly gentle. It took us a couple of days to realise that he is very deaf, and on Dave the wonderful WAHF behaviourist’s advice we got him properly tested with the BAER test – it turned out that he can hear virtually nothing and if he does hear something he doesn’t know where the sound is coming from. So if you shout loud enough he looks up with interest at the ceiling etc! Also we realised he has very poor sight, our vet says no peripheral vision – he can just see straight ahead. These things make him even more endearing and fill us with admiration that he can be so laid back and trusting when goodness knows what has happened to him.
WAHF were wonderful – the joy of knowing before he arrived that he was good with other dogs and with children was brilliant, and indeed he is – he doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his body (unless you’re a squirrel). They are so supportive, the beginning few weeks can be a bit daunting, and I do feel that a rescue dog needs time and patience to get used to the new life. Also, I was very pleased to have known that it takes at least 72 hours for the stress to leave them after their long journey over here, and it’s quite normal for them to take a bit of time.
He is a Bosnian Scent Hound (we did our research and he is a “Barak”) and he is incredibly driven by the scent of squirrels, cats, foxes etc. He literally bays when he has found one! The upshot of this is that sadly we cannot let him off the lead, because he would race after something and then not hear us or see us to come back to. This can be challenging as he is pretty chunky and can almost pull me off my feet, but the Halti Harness (not collar) changed everything, so that he pulls from his front chest not back neck. We make his life as free as possible by putting him on a very long lead and letting him “choose the route” when it’s safe to do so. Also, there are 2 large “dog-proof” meadows near us where he can be let off the lead. So – my feeling is you try and change/train the things you can and then you work with what you’ve got and can’t change.
We just adore him, and he is much loved on the Common where we walk- he would be the most wonderful role model for a puppy, so that is probably in the offing! It’s extremely rewarding to see him pottering around with his tail wagging, when he must have spent so much time on the street, hungry and lost. Of all the dogs we’ve ever had, he is the most easy-going and gentle – the Man in the Van was right! And thank you WAHF, for this gorgeous boy.'
- Elizabeth Cane
'We had been wanting a dog for a few years but were so busy with children and jobs that it never seemed to be the right time. When the children hit 10 and 11, work chilled out a bit and we were spending more time in the countryside, suddenly time was right. We didn't need a puppy so rescuing seemed the obvious choice, plus it was something my family had done a few times when I was growing up.
After struggling to be taken seriously by rehoming centres here in the U.K. (young children, living in a London flat, jobs etc), I found WaHF on Instagram and knew this was where our dog would come from. When I saw brothers Itchy and Scratchy (then Alec & Gagi) I couldn't get them out of my mind, and couldn't believe it when I spoke to Alicia and she said they were still available (they'd been on Instagram for months) and that they would be suitable for us. The plan was to get one dog, but these two looked SO divine - and had to be rehomed together - so we went for it. Two in depth FaceTime calls later we passed the test and had a date to collect them. We were all beyond excited and at the same time incredibly nervous - what if it was a failure? Could we send them back? What sort of behaviour could we not deal with? Suddenly it was all rather serious!
Collecting day arrived and we met them - they were very friendly but incredibly nervous after their long journey from Bosnia, and they smelled just awful! They jumped in surprise at everything for the first few days - being stroked, their food bowls, the TV, laughter, crunching feet on gravel, walking in gum boots or flip flops, closing doors or cupboards, getting up off the sofa - everything made them jump. We spent the first 2 weeks saying 'good boys' in a calming voice whenever we even moved! They quickly settled down after a few days or so - and they really haven't looked back. They nailed housetraining almost instantly and are getting pretty obedient - sit, heel and stay are all good (especially if there is a sausage on offer), they are brilliant on the lead but they are obsessed with squirrels so we only let them off in woods if we have time to wait for them - they stay relatively close but actually coming back is not one of their strong points...but they always do in the end (generally when they are knackered!).
Our best investment was a crate - they love it and feel safe in there - when we are not in the house they go in there or they are on the kitchen counter/table and they will also ransack the bin if no one is watching! Their manners are improving slowly! They are ridiculously kind, gentle and patient - with all of us and with each other. They are fabulous with other dogs, Scratchy likes to charge around and play with any dog, whereas Itchy is the lazier one and can't really be bothered. He'd rather lie down...unless there is a squirrel in the vicinity. Nothing phases them now - not even bonfire night and all those fireworks raised more than a twitching ear.
I have to say, getting 2 was brilliant - I'm sure having each other can have only helped their settling in, plus they do a lot of playing together and completely exhaust themselves. We're only 3 months in and they are still changing and growing in confidence all the time, what hasn't changed is that we are stopped almost daily by people asking what they are and where they come from - we are a walking advert for the amazing WaHF.'
- Priscilla Giles
'I don’t know where to start really, Cosmo is such a part of the family now I can not imagine life without him.
I’ve been trying to work out how to describe him, and I think the first thing that comes to mind is his patience - even as a little pup he has always been so calm with whatever is going on, he happily comes to work with me half the week, I have an office/studio full of young people and he loves it and he stays at home with my wife when she works from home the rest of the week. He never bothers us in the morning, will always just wait until he sees what’s going on.
Cosmo is pretty smart, and definitely thrives from playing games and being on walks but will wait patiently until the opportunity for either of those things arrives! He loves a tug of war more than anything. He’s never chewed things up or been too badly behaved.
He was a really fussy eater as a pup which I found weird after always having greedy Spaniels in my family - some days he just wasn’t bothered, or would come and eat in his own sweet time - but he seems to have gone through that phase!
He learns very quickly and was well behaved off the lead in no time at all. He is incredibly inquisitive and wants to say hello to absolutely every single dog he sees - he has never been aggressive in the slightest but his confidence and cocky walk definitely seemed to rub some dogs up the wrong way...
He is very affectionate, tolerant of kids and people he doesn’t know and is just an all round little dude.
As the testosterone started to flow it was interesting seeing him venture further and further from us, and particularly looking for females - he was literally obsessed with trying to find someone to hump, his recall utterly disappeared as he had far more interesting and important things to do! He always came back but in his own sweet time. He scared us a couple of times running out the park after females and got duffed up a couple of times by neutered males so the time came to have him neutered.
Cosmo loves tearing around chasing other dogs or being chased, and absolutely loves his ball. He is pretty lucky and gets 2 decent park walks a day in the week and a bigger walk at the weekend- he’s got a good crew of dogs he sees regularly and is a happy little chap.
He stays with one of our friends who lives a couple of roads away when we are away and he adores him too, he is perfectly calm and happy to stay with people he knows and likes but always makes a fuss when he sees us again!
We feel very blessed to have him and he is my little mate, I always miss him the days he’s not with me.'
- James Payne
‘We had always wanted to adopt but had been given the impression that we wouldn't be allowed to as we both work full time and live in a flat (albeit with a park on our doorstep). However one night after a long chat with our best friend/flatmate we decided that between the three of us we could at least try! Half an hour later we spotted a litter of incredibly cute, floppy ear-ed, wide eyed puppies on the Wild at Heart Foundation website. They had just been taken into a shelter in Cyprus with their mum and were up for adoption. We filled out the application form and heard back quite quickly. Initially we wanted Larry, but he was reserved so we looked at the rest of the pups. Laura stood out because her colouring was so interesting and she had such big ears she looked like a mini dumbo, so we reserved her.
We went through the home check, which was much more to check that we understood what it meant to take on an adopted dog, than a strict test sort of thing! Olivia was so great and answered all of our questions We nervously waited for the result and when we found it we were successful we were so chuffed. After that we got everything ready for her arrival, we were so worried about having the right toys, food, bedding but actually once she arrived we realised she would lead us to what she wanted!
Wild at Heart were so helpful in sending us information and update pictures, even though they were so busy at the time we adopted. We finally met her at about 8pm at a service station on the M25 and while all the other dogs came bounding out, our little pup was handed to me shaking so much we couldn’t even put her on the floor. Immediately I looked at her red hair and said she should be Roux (french for red haired) but so we didn't sound too pretentious we settled on Roo!
At first it was really overwhelming as she was so nervous, but between us we had two weeks off work to bond with her - and that really helped. After about 24 hours she began to trust us, slowly she came out of her shell, after a week she was able to go out for a short walk (without freaking out and needing to be carried). Cut to now she’s a fully functioning, confident, happy, playful, ridiculous doggo! All the time we put in with training, bonding and playing was so worth it cos she really needed the structure after such a big shift to her life. We couldn't imagine life without her now, she’s such a sweet, intelligent dog and she’s gorgeous. I can’t count the amount of times people have approached us asking about her, and where she’s from and what breed she is (still not sure!)
There have been a couple of difficulties as Roo is a bit wary of men she doesn’t know and can be skittish, however all of that is improving every day. WAHF have been really supportive and helpful, I would 100% recommend adopting through them. There’s nothing nicer than seeing her bounding around in the long grass and thinking how far she’s come in just a few months. Thank you WAHF!’
- Kate Evans
'Frankie (nee Luna) (nee Twilight) had a bit of a shaky start. She was a stray in Cyprus who was bought over to the UK and adopted by a family with young children. Finding that she had witching hours at 6pm and a bit of a chewer, the family decided to give her back.
I had spent 2 years showing my husband hundreds of photos of dogs that needed adopting in an effort to persuade him that we should get one. He loved dogs but was worried about the commitment it would be and how much it would change our lives. We were on a train in Oslo, heading back to the airport, when I saw Frankie on Instagram. I fell in love - she had the biggest brown eyes and just the most adorable ears. I showed her to Ian who for the first time seemed keen. I replied to the post on Instagram and by the time we had landed had arranged to go straight to where she was to meet her. She seemed perfect. I couldn't imagine why someone gave her back. We went home and spoke about it and after going through all the formalities we got Frankie 6 days after seeing her online.
Getting Frankie was one of the best decisions we ever made. I can not express enough how much joy she has bought us and how ridiculously soppy she has made the pair of us.
Knowing someone has given her back breaks my heart as it is so obvious that Frankie just wants to be part of the pack. We suspect she had been left on her own for much of the day and possibly just let out in the garden to go to the loo rather than taken on a walk. We set a pretty good routine of 3 walks a day, 2 to a park we have nearby and either a longer walk or a run. As a result this witching hour disappeared within days of having her. It was clear to us she just needed to get rid of that excess energy (my husband is pretty much the same so I can just pack them off out for a run together).
There are other bits which were hard work to train her out of. At the start she used to steal food and find places to hide it using her nose to gather up leaves and dirt to cover over food behind plant pots. She would scratch the door of where she slept (in the kitchen) anytime from 3am to tell us she was ready to start the day, and if we sat down to eat a meal she would promptly pee on the floor. With a bit of hard work and patience we have worked through all these. The sleeping part was fixed with a crate and once she got used to that we have now managed to get rid of it. Now she knows her meal times as a result of the routine she is relaxed around her food. She shares her toys with other dogs with no trouble now. Unfortunately she occasionally still likes to steal a trainer to have a nibble but this is few and far between so we are hoping we are getting passed that. We were worried to start with we were never going to get her off lead. But again consistency and routine has meant we even that has come on leaps and bounds and we have managed to brave a 5k run mainly off lead.
To anyone considering getting a dog, I would say think about the amount of work and effort a dog will take. I know so many people that want a dog and say to their other half they promise they would do all the work and this becomes a bone of contention when they don't. We have found it important to be realistic about the change of lifestyle and that way a lot of the stress isn't there for us.
We knew having a dog would mean additional costs but I think it is worth putting some money aside each month to cover the ad hoc expenses we hadn't foreseen - for us multiple trips to vets once the winter set in as Frankie seems to be a fair weather dog - she got a bit of backward sneezing (who knew that was a thing) conjunctivitis and a cold - so a warm coat was advised which touch wood seems to have worked.
It's only fair on the dog that you going into adopting one with realistic expectations on your time, patience and wallet. Certainly for us I cannot imagine life without Frankie in it. She is literally loved by everyone who meets her. Our parents fight over who will look after her when we go away. She is also great with children. We have friends whose children have had a bad experience with dogs, who have asked if they can regularly come and see Frankie as she is building up their confidence with them. She is cheeky and has a real personality. We love her so much and are so grateful to the Wild at Heart Foundation for introducing us to her.'
- Kate Marston
'I had been considering getting a dog for a year or so before I came across Wild at Heart Foundation via Instagram. Why did it take so long? Well, I'm an over-thinker and despite owning my flat, working from home full time and living next to the great outdoor space of Streatham Common and Norwood Grove, it always "didn't feel quite right".
However, I'm a big believer in things happening at the right time and trusting your gut. I reached out to Eve in January 2018, filled out my adoption form and began checking the website every day hoping to find the right dog. I had a fairly clear idea of what would be a good fit for me but despite Eve's best efforts, we couldn't seem to find a dog and I was beginning to lose hope... I even contacted a local English Cocker Spaniel breeder as I thought perhaps the problem was that my "ideals" weren't available in a rescue breed due to the uncertainty around size, personality, age etc. One evening, I decided to check the website one last time and BOOM, it was like fate. I frantically emailed Eve and enquired about a little black, fluffy dog called Domino and said I thought she could be "the one".
After what felt like forever, a very scared and tiny black puppy arrived at my front door on the evening of 26th April. I took her straight into my garden and sat down next to her on the grass but this little dog, now renamed Leni (meaning "Light" in Greek), wriggled up onto my chest and wouldn't let go. It was like she knew that she was home.
I was right about the uncertainty though - my parents and friends all wondered what she would be like and whether she would have any "issues". I always thought she might and had already booked private training classes with Eryn from Believe in Magic to help me understand her and settle her as best as I could. Alongside this, my approach was to "start as you mean to go on" in the sense that I would get her into a really good routine and introduce her to lots of things: friends came around to the flat, I took her to cafes, BBQs, walked her on the common with lots of other dogs, took her on the tube, bus etc. I don't know if this is the advised approach but it worked for us and she took everything in her stride as long as I was there next to her. We were spending 24 hours a day with each other some days and still do a lot of the time! The only problem we had was car sickness and we have overcome that now, thank goodness. It turns out that no food before a drive, sitting on the front seat and patience were the tricks for us...
4 months on and this little girl is living up to her name more than I could have EVER imagined. Leni radiates happiness and kindness and is wise beyond her years. There has yet to be a friend or family member who hasn't fallen in love with her (they genuinely like her more than they like me...) and she is trusting of absolutely everyone that she meets. So much of this is thanks to her brilliant foster family and WAHF carers who I will be forever grateful for and I hope that the rest is thanks to me.
She is my little sidekick and I couldn't imagine life without her!'
- Kate Finch
We had been contemplating getting another dog for a little while when Pippa popped up on the Wild at Heart Instagram feed as being available for adoption from Romania. I’d become aware of WAHF after my friend and colleague adopted Sadie from Greece. I was very impressed by the work they carried out and periodically dropped by online to see who was in need of a home.
Up until that point we hadn’t seriously committed to adding to our brood. We have a rescue Jack Russell (Bella) who has been with us for 5 years and is 9 years old, and a rescue Siamese who is 10.
The moment that I saw Pippa though, I just knew that she was our dog. I showed her to my partner Gary, and immediately filled in the inquiry form online. We were quickly booked in for a FaceTime home check which was very comprehensive. The fact that we’d rehomed quite a troubled dog before meant that we were prepared for all eventualities and took lots of advice from Dave the behaviourist at WAHF, as well as our own dog walker who is also a behaviourist, around how to introduce Pippa to our existing pets and to our home.
Pippa arrived, petrified, at 1am on a very cold January evening 8 months ago. She tried to get out of her slip lead in the street and I suddenly wondered what on earth we were doing! I got her safely into the house and we laid out a blanket for her in the hall with some food. She was very stressed, but within half an hour had climbed into the bed that we’d set up for her in the spare room. The introduction to our existing pets went very smoothly, and Pippa seemed to take everything in her stride. We had only one incident where she peed in the house, and then she was suddenly house trained. It took us over a week to get her to go on a walk, but after much encouragement, and driven by her desire not to be left out when we went out with Bella, she eventually came along. To say she now enjoys her walks is a complete understatement. She loves haring around the field by our house and playing with the other dogs on her daily walk with the walker.
We have been astounded by her! Pippa is the very definition of emotional resilience. She assesses every situation, takes everything in her stride, and is determined not to be scared. She is also insanely affectionate - she places a very determined little paw she places on your arm to let you know she wants to be fussed. We both feel that the fact that there was an existing dog in the house really let Pippa settle and Bella has been fantastic at showing Pippa how to behave, and helping her to integrate into our home. Bella is too much of a grumpy old Jack Russell for them to cuddle up together, but they look out for each other, and Kiki the cat - they really are a little gang. Pippa really is an amazing dog, and we love her to pieces. My instinct was right - she really is our dog.
- Claire McArdle
‘I’ve pretty much wanted a dog my whole life and on my 29th birthday a friend suggested I write a list of things that I wanted to experience before I hit 30! I realised that having a dog was one of those things. I’m not quite sure why I waited so long – working hours in London, the expense of doggy day care perhaps or just people saying what a huge responsibility it is (which it is!). So when my boyfriend and I decided to leave London in favour of the Mediterranean dream I knew the time had finally come to adopt a dog. Having spent countless Sundays reading the ‘success-stories’ on Wild at Heart Foundation’s website myself, I soon fell in love with Ralphie’s face and his description: ‘a young dog with a big heart’ with a ‘gentle and calm nature’. I filled in the application form straight away, and I was so excited when I found out that the timing would work for us and that Ralphie would be ours.
We had to wait a while to adopt Ralphie because he was so skinny and he needed to put on weight before he could be sent to us. The timing coincided with our move from London to Greece, which took place via France. One morning Ralphie took a flight from Cyprus all the way to Paris. Ralphie bounded merrily out of the van; he was a bundle of excitement to begin with so the first few days were about helping him settle and providing a calm environment for him. We were lucky as my boyfriend’s family home has a huge garden, which eased the transition - Ralphie couldn’t get enough of rolling in the grass and sniffing the plants all day long. Two weeks and countless holes and depotted plants later we hit the road all the way to Greece involving almost 30 hours of travel by car and boat!
Ralphie did amazingly well on our travels; he curled up patiently in a ball for the car journeys and the overnight boat stay. He has since also been on a holiday with us to a nearby island and it turns out he is quite the swimmer! Just 3 months later he has settled with us in our home in Athens. We are consulting an amazing dog behaviourist here who trains dogs for shows and she is helping us crate train him, teaching us all sorts of techniques to stop him from pulling on the lead, and even some tricks! Aside from crying for a good 10 minutes every-time we leave the house, some pulling on the lead and chewing any form of footwear at any given opportunity, he is a cuddly delight (with the silkiest skin)!
When Ralphie is ready and more mature (he’s about 1 year old now) we will be going back to the WAHF to help us find a buddy for him – they do an incredible job and we are so grateful to them!’
- Eleni Xanthis