My wife and I had wrestled with the idea of getting another dog after losing our beautiful male Red and White Setter – ‘Novo’ – in April of 2018. We couldn’t face ‘replacing’ Novo, he was very special to us, but we still had a 12 year old Setter who was clearly missing her companion. After six months, and a lot of heart searching, we reasoned that giving Novo’s place in our home to a rescued dog would not be ‘replacing him’ but instead would honour his memory. It was my wife who stumbled across the SeBPRA website online and we could not believe how many beautiful dogs were urgently in need of a loving home. This was the answer for us, what better way to honour our lost boy than to offer his place to a dog so deserving of a second chance? I looked through the site and enquired about three dogs. Two had already attracted potential owners but the other, ‘Alize’, was ‘available’. I downloaded and completed the application form from the site and was contacted by one of the administrators – Sarah, and so began the adoption process.
At this point I’d like to say that SeBPRA were highly impressive. Not only were the administrators knowledgeable, experienced dog owners, every individual involved in the chain had a clear love for animals and each stage of the adoption put the welfare of the dogs at the centre of the process. Having completed a searching application form there was then a video interview and a ‘home visit’ which, to some, might seem like overkill. I viewed it as a powerful reassurance that the utmost care was being taken to match dog with prospective owner and ensure the best outcome. Sarah explained the background most of these dogs experience may mean they are highly prey orientated, lack training and can be prone to attachment anxiety. So we knew and accepted that there were bound to be some challenges ahead. For us it was important that our adopted dog could get on with cats, as we have two bengals. Alize, the English Setter we had chosen, was tested with cats in the kennels and showed no adverse reaction, so she was the one!
The journey from Spain for our ‘new friend’ was a long one. We live in North East Scotland so Alize was in transit for the best part of three days. But here again SeBPRA consider the anxious wait for the new adopters by providing a link to the transporter which allows its progress to be tracked throughout the journey. Nick, who drives the transporter, posted regular updates and pictures during his journey so we could see our girl. We also appreciated something rather lovely upon his arrival when Alize hesitated to jump out from her crate. Nick refused to hurry her but instead insisted she be given time to come out when she was ready. It spoke volumes for the care afforded these unfortunate dogs.
From the outset Alize proved to be the beautiful, affectionate and energetic girl we expected. However, we knew there would be some bumps in the road to negotiate. She immediately made friends with our elderly Red and White Setter (who is clearly glad of the company) but we were a little surprised that she froze when she saw our cats. Alize did nothing to threaten them but she went into prey mode and just stared at them. Initially the cats were a little uncomfortable around her and kept their distance. We had introduced the cats into our home whilst we had our setters. With them my wife had rewarded the setters’ good behaviour around the cats with treats until they fully accepted them. This didn’t work with Alize, whilst in prey mode (or ‘on point’) Alize was uninterested in treats. Instead, in the presence of the cats, my wife flipped Alize onto her back and stroked her. Alize relaxed and the atmosphere in the room seemed to change. The cats were happy to approach Alize like this and over the course of two weeks of repeating this the desired effect was achieved; our dogs and cats are now one big happy family.
Some three months after Alize’s arrival I have to say that she is everything we’d hoped for and so much more. We absolutely adore her, she is a pure joy and has found her forever home. She is bubbly, energetic, affectionate and loves to be made a fuss of. Naturally there are still some training issues ahead, but we are working on them and having fun in the process. She loves her walks but remains very prey orientated so I cannot let her off lead, but I hope that may change over time. We have to be careful what we leave on the kitchen worktop, she’s helped herself to my sandwiches on more than one occasion and chewed through my wallet and bank cards too. She’s a character but we would not be without her. Alize has become a close companion to our elderly Setter, who has not played so much since she was a youngster herself. Moreover, Alize has healed the hurt I thought would never leave me after the loss of our beautiful boy. In short I love her to bits.