We lost our Cocker Spaniel in late 2014 and made the conscious decision then not to rush into dog ownership again, primary due to family and work commitments. With our two sons growing a little more independent however we took the decision during the summer of 2018 to look for a new family pet.
We’d not rescued before and after some basic Internet searching and a few tentative enquiries with the likes of the RSPCA, we stumbled across the SeBPRA Facebook page and that’s when the journey began!
The FB site gave a fantastic overview of each dog available for adoption, along with many updates on those dogs that had already been rehomed. We had never considered having two dogs and as a family we narrowed our selection down to a small number of ‘potentials’, with Tessa then greatly assisting us to finally select Charlie, a Brittany Spaniel of around 3 to 4 years old.
Following a successful application process, WhatsApp video interview and home check, we were all set to go and made our preparations at home for the new arrival! All along we knew that Charlie had been rescued from a certain death with a Brittany/Pointer cross buddy of his – Chaplin – but, at that time, we had decided that taking on two might be a stretch to far…
As opposed to arranging for the conventional delivery of Charlie to the UK, in late October, coinciding with a road trip to SW France, we extended our journey and drove to the Rescate Perrines shelter in Northern Spain, run by the wonderful Conchi. It was a fair old drive but on our arrival we were met by some very beautiful & extremely excited dogs, all desperately longing for a good home.
The RP shelter is basic but the dogs were all clearly well fed and watered and their love and affection for Conchi in particular was clear. On meeting Charlie for the first time, whilst he was clearly nervous & very excited, he was adorable and immediately took to our two boys…as did Chaplin…who was shaking like a leaf but just wanted to be fussed…at that point the decision was made, Chaplin would be on his way to our house too, just as soon as we could get him there!!
I think making the decision on the basis of photographs is quite a gamble and whilst Penelope, Tessa, Conchi and the team were fantastic and provided us with regular up-dates along with video footage, the experience of actually travelling to the shelter and being able to meet both Charlie & Chaplin there was fantastic.
Four weeks later, when Chaplin arrived, we saw the process from the more conventional perspective and it was clear to us that the transport process was extremely well managed and we were able to track Chaplin on our phones for the entire journey, until he safely reached the UK in late November.
The reunion between Charlie and Chaplin was wonderful to see and they’ve been inseparable ever since!
Having two strong and scent driven gun dogs has been challenging at times. Generally speaking these dogs have been through a lot and we can only guess about the sort of past & lack of care they may have had.
Until the arrival of Chaplin, Charlie really struggled with separation anxiety; since Chaplin arrived however there’s never been an issue with either of them. Charlie has been extremely affectionate from day 1, whereas Chaplin literally hid behind the sofa for two or three weeks, whenever a male adult was near by (including myself!!). There are still occasions when Chaplin will panic and bark in fear, especially when there’s an older male, wearing a flat cap, glasses and a hi-visibility jacket. One can only assume that he was mistreated by a Spanish hunter fitting that description. With plenty of socialisation however, he is much better now and the excuse of “he’s a rescue dog” rarely has to be used these days!
Their recall was virtually non-existent at the start and it has taken a lot of time & effort to build up the necessary understanding & trust, but they do respond, eventually, and when they do it’s extremely rewarding! Neither of them had been walked on a lead before either, so whilst there’s still work to be done, their progress has been fantastic.
These dogs love to run and, certainly for our two, if there’s a hill, they have to run up it! I regularly run with them both on & off lead now and it’s clear that they enjoy being part of the ‘gang’, which in turn helps massively with bond and general behaviour.
Of note, we’ve already travelled across the Channel with both dogs, with no issues whatsoever. It’s clear to us that having the two of them, despite the few challenges, was WITHOUT DOUBT the best decision we could ever have made. Thank you SeBPRA!