'Frederick and I had been discussing having a dog for a long time, including what type of dog would suit our lifestyle and not be too disruptive to our rescue cat, who has a limp and a heart murmur. What was clear was that we both wanted to give a home to a dog that needed it and we both wanted a bitch.
Late November 2016 we visited the new local can - LEILE - and there in the corner was the dog (Zz) who features on the front cover of the 2017 Wild at Heart Foundation calendar. The owner told us about the charity and we were soon looking at the website. We liked a dog named Adele (actually we liked all of them!!) and decided to enquire, completely overturning our decision to wait until we moved house. Adele had other interest but we were told Zorro, her brother, was available. One look at his beautiful face was enough, helped by the line 'who will give this little boy a home before the snow comes?'. The litter consisted of 10 puppies aged about 2 weeks and had been found with their fantastic mum, Goya, in a derelict building.
We waited anxiously to be home checked, proclaimed fit dog owners and then occupied ourselves with a new version of retail therapy.
Finally, Ziggy and 3 of his siblings, set off from snowy Bosnia on 9th January. We were grateful to the charity for the photos and emails about his progress. After an overnight stay in Romania they arrived in Lincolnshire to be checked by a vet and settled before the next stage of the journey to their new homes.
On Saturday 14th January, I cut short a meeting and persuaded a colleague to speed to South Mimms service station to meet Frederick and collect Ziggy. The terrified, scrawny, stunningly gorgeous bundle was handed to Frederick and was soon in a crate in the back of our car, heading home.
We had been warned about the smell from the journey mixed with fear so the poor boy needed food and an immediate bath once we got home.
He was so scared of everything at first — especially our cat, Molly. We needn't have worried about her, she definitely had the upper hand and still has. We would find him cowering in a corner with her staring or hissing and had to spent weeks keeping them separated and trying to stop her blocking the door when he needed a pee! So we are delighted that 5 months on they like to be fed together and have reached an understanding, if not quite full on love. They will now lie close together and occasionally touch noses.
It was all much harder than we had imagined. We couldn't go down the street without him freezing in fear, then the lead pulling began (holding it behind your back works) and scavenging (teach the leave command asap) and his recall is still pretty dire when he gets a scent but we are told that is symptomatic of hounds. There were days when we wondered what we had done followed by sheer moments of joy. There have been ups and downs and training is tough at times but it has been invaluable, as have been the number of dog owners we have met with all their knowledge and encouragement. One of our highlights was watching the sheer joy and sense of freedom as he ran and ran on the beach near our cottage in Scotland — what a moment!!! (until we had to catch him)
So has it been worth it? You bet it has. He has turned our lives upside down. No more deciding to stay out for impromptu theatre and dinner. But teenage boys (son’s of friends) make great dog sitters!
Ziggy loves to eat, sleep, chew (a silk bra being an early casualty), dig (repairing the lawn is a permanent job), lick feet, kiss, and sniff. But one of his favourite things is playing with his brother, Alfie. Yes, they knew each other instantly, although they look nothing alike they have very similar personalities. We we are lucky enough to be able to meet up occasionally.
The Foundation has been amazingly supportive and provide a wealth of information. The best thing is being in contact with the owners of Ziggy’s siblings for mutual support and sharing of issues and joys.
Mr Zig is friendly to everyone, loving, funny, inquisitive, playful, clever, mischievous, frustrating, stubborn, adorable and very much part of the family after a rollercoaster 5 months.
We will be moving house shortly from inner London to SW Herts; the criteria changed to include a bigger garden!!'
- Lynn and Frederick Hannay