Tuesday, 23 December 2008


Today is a special but sad day for me. It's the anniversary of the day I had to say goodbye to a very special boy, Guinness, my first rescue Labrador.

Guinness was the best first dog of my own I could have wished for. He was 9 when I adopted him from the RSPCA after he'd been given up due to his owners marriage break-up. Guinness was a gentleman of a dog - well behaved, loved everyone and my best friend for 6 years. After a short illness, Guinness and I said our final goodbye on the 23rd December 2005.

When Guinness had started to get old and slow down, I looked for another dog to join us and found Poppy in 2004. She had been used as a breeding bitch in Wales and had been given up to rescue once she was no longer producing enough puppies to be kept.

Poppy had never lived in a house before and to start off, the world was a scary place for her. She gained confidence from Guinness and learned that life could be good and she didn't need to be scared any more. Poppy was kind and gentle and soon became my choccie shadow.

After Poppy came to live with us, I got involved with LRSE&C and the following year, although not really looking for another dog, I head about Jake. He was a 9 year old Black Labrador who was blind and had been in kennels for 3 months. He'd previously been rehomed but given up again due to his owners ill-health and despite being promoted on rescue forums, no one came forward to offer him a home.

The day in March 2005 when I met Jake I fell in love straight away - he was a happy, waggy boy and the day I met him was the day he came home. Jake soon became known as Bumpy due to his habit of bumping into everything, but being blind didn't stop him living his life to the full. Bumpy had to have an eye removed due to acute glaucoma but being the brave boy he was, he recovered from the operation quickly and was once again bumping around all over the place.

After Guinness passed away, for a while it was just Poppy and Bumpy but then I started fostering for LRSE&C.

Different foster dogs came and went but then in September 2006 Poppy was diagnosed with a heart condition. This meant that she was at the vets regularly for scans and then fluid drains as her heart wasn't working properly.

While Holly, one of my fosters was here, LRSE&C were asked to take on a 14 year old Yellow Labrador who was to become homeless. Connie was very wobbly, only had one eye but needed a retirement home for her last few months.

Connie was a character - a batty old thing but she seemed glad to have a comfy bed and company for a while, sharing with Bumpy. With them both only having one eye each, they were a good match!

Also in June 2007, a friend told me that there was another choccie girl in Wales, with the same rescue Poppy had been at and that she had come from the same 'breeder'. I put off meeting this girl, worrying too much about Poppy to consider bringing another dog into our home.

A month later, in July, I gave in and took Poppy to Wales to meet this girl. Poppy knew her already - the choccie girl who needed a home was Dolly and she was Poppy's daughter.

Dolly was more confident than Poppy had been and soon settled into life here. For a while the house seemed very full with 4 dogs! Poppy was happy to be reunited with her daughter and would happily curl up on the sofa with Dolly.

Sadly, in August Poppy's poorly heart couldn't cope any more and after the vets had done everything they could, we had to say goodbye. I was heartbroken that she'd only had 3 years living a normal life but through adopting her, in a round about way she had led me to Dolly.

A month later, Connie's time had come. Her hips had given up on her and I had to make the decision to let her go with dignity.

For a while, it was just Bumpy, Dolly and I. I had planned to take them both to France this year so started to get their pet passports organised. After the rabies vaccination they both had to have blood tests but Bumpy failed his and had to go back a month later. During this checkup a lump was found in his shoulder joint.

Bumpy went in for surgery to remove the lump and came home again, seemingly recovering well.

My worst fears were realised though when the results came back - cancer. The vets were confident that the whole of the mass had been removed and Bumpy seemed to be back to full health and was my happy, bumping boy. With Dolly, we went over to the Isle of Wight on the ferry to visit my parents who were there on holiday. It was a surprise for my mum as it was mothers day, but Dolly and Bumpy went on the top deck of the ferry and then for a walk on the beach.

Bumpy had not long celebrated his 3rd homecoming day when the cancer had come back. Although I'd not been looking, a certain grey faced older boy caught my eye when I saw him on the LRSE&C database....

It was Henry. Or Sir H, as he was to become. He bore a resemblance to Guinness and knowing that if anything should happen to Bumpy, Dolly wouldn't be happy on her own, on the 18th April I took Dolly to meet him. Henry came home that day but sadly just a few days later, Bumpy took a turn for the worse.

Bumpy had been to see an oncologist and had started chemo-therapy but the following weekend suddenly became very ill. He spent the Sunday in the vets and I was able to bring him home in the evening, giving him his steroid injections. I slept down here with him that night but by the morning, I knew his body just couldn't take any more and on Monday 21st April had to make the decision to let him be at peace. Bumpy was such a brave boy with a huge heart, to see the cancer taking him away from me broke my heart.

I thought everything was ok with my furry friends until Dolly started to have breathing problems. Initially the vet thought it was Laryngeal Paralysis but x-rays showed a huge mass in her chest. Dolly went through scans, x-rays, CT scans and many tests but we never found out exactly what the mass was. It was obstructing her airway but for a while, medication did reduce the size of the tumour and she was able to lead a near normal life.

Until 20th June, it was just Dolly and Sir H here. Obviously you all know about Wiggle's arrival - there wouldn't be a Wiggle the Dog blog otherwise!

The arrival of Wiggle gave Dolly some extra fun in her life - someone to chase a tennis ball with and to cuddle on the sofa. Sir H had been rather standoffish since the day he arrived so having Wiggle was good for Dolly and very quickly they formed a special bond.

After all the test that could be done had been done, Dolly went for surgery to remove the lump, but sadly died at home the day after she came home. Wiggle seemed as heartbroken as me. After I'd come back from taking Dolly to the vets, Wiggle took himself outside and sat with his head down.

So here we are today, remembering my wonderful Guinness, the reason I have Wiggle here and Sir H and all the ones that have gone before them. The reason I got involved with helping Labrador Rescue South East & Central. This time last year I had no idea that I wouldn't have Dolly and Bumpy but I am so very grateful that I have Sir H, the grumpy old man and Wiggle, who is recovering from his years of neglect.....


Melita (Woof Beginnings) said...

Wendy that was a lovely read, both happy and sad. Must admit to having the tissues at hand.

You have fostered some wonderful dogs over the years, each one special and a character in their own right.
Although no longer with you, they will never be forgotten.

Mery Christmas to you, Wiggle and Sir H.


Wiggle said...

Thank you. Guinness, Poppy, Bumpy, Connie and Dolly were my own. One day I'll sort through the photo's of the different fosters.

Merry Christmas to you and yours xx