Author: Julia Grace

Adopting a dog wasn’t really something I had thought about or planned as such. I lost Harley, my Irish Setter, suddenly & quite traumatically in December 2019 & in all honesty it felt raw for quite a while & disloyal to get a ‘replacement’ for him.

Fast-forward to June 2020 & I decided to approach Harley’s breeder to enquire about upcoming litters, I put my name down on the waiting list for a litter due in September 2020 & then started the wait.

Unfortunately COVID decided to kick in & turned my life upside down so the thought of a puppy went to the back burner. September 2020 came & went & that niggle for a dog reappeared, even stronger this time.

Due to my change in circumstances, ideally I wanted to rescue, partly due to the fact my family have had so many fabulous rescue dogs over the years & partly because I didn’t have the time for a very young puppy but thought a young dog would be a good fit & would slot in to my life quite nicely.

Decision made, I went on to Google to look at Setter rescues…. It felt a little like looking for a needle in a haystack! I registered with all the Setter breed societies (Irish, Red & White, English & Gordon), registered with various big UK based rescues & then stumbled on SeBPRA & couldn’t believe my luck! They had dogs available & not just dogs but Setters!

I found the Facebook page from the website, had a browse & when I saw the group numbers & popularity of posts, I honestly thought I stood very little chance of adoption at that point as the world & its wife wanted a dog, especially young ones. Resigned to the long wait, I checked back on the adoptions page & found a face that spoke to me. All the dogs were lovely, all deserved a lovely home but this face called to my heart & so the journey began….

I had a look at the information provided on the website, just to double check *I* was right for *him*, had a brief look through the blog, debated on whether I really was the right home, took a deep breath & filled out an adoption form, then waited with hopeful baited breath.

That face filled my thoughts & filled my heart, he was The One. ‘He’ being a 10 month old English Setter called Sol, something about him tugged at my heart & very unwisely I saved a photo of him from the website, hopeful (& already slightly invested!)….

Two days later I received a response from SeBPRA, opened the email with baited breath and….. Sol already had an interview lined up elsewhere.

Was I disappointed? Absolutely! However I am a great believer that things work out how they are supposed to, so I swallowed my disappointment & looked on the bright side because if nothing else, Sol had clearly found a home he deserved & wasn’t that the important thing?

Back to the drawing board & there was a lovely dog on the site called Fay, he looked like a lovely boy & was about the right age so I bit the bullet & expressed interest, prepared that I may be in for a long wait but God loves a trier, right?!

A day after applying for Fay, I received an email to say my initial application for him had been successful & inviting me to progress to a virtual adoption interview with the lovely Laura, to say I was delighted was an understatement but accurately I was 50/50 excitement & nerves because it never occurred to me that the rescue were lucky to have me, it was always the other way round & whether I would be lucky enough to get through to an adoption interview. Date & time set with Laura for Fay & wondering whether perhaps he was the right one, what he’d be like, whether I’d be accepted as a home etc so imagine my surprise & delight when Laura emailed me later that day to say Sol had unexpectedly become available & would I like to continue the interview process for him? My reaction was to instantly reply & sit at the dining table with a gormless grin on my face & utterly joyful. I just knew Sol was The One, I don’t know how or why & I can’t explain it, he just was. To be honest I don’t know how Laura coped with the enthusiasm & chatter during the interview but like a true hero, she did (God bless you Laura!) & the next step was a home check.

You may struggle to believe this but I spent 3 hours tidying the house to such a degree that even the dusting & skirting boards got thoroughly done! Insane right? Well, no. This wasn’t about me doing the rescue or Sol a favour by providing a good home, this was about me proving I was up to the task of being blessed with one of these dogs, I always had that mindset because for me, that was the truth of it.

Fast forward to home check & thankfully it was a pass. Again, I can’t fault the process. Laura was absolutely fantastic & despite leading an incredibly busy life herself (as all the volunteers do) my interview wasn’t rushed & actually felt more like a friendly conversation than an interview. The adoption fee was exchanged that week & Sol was mine which still felt slightly surreal given I’d come so close to not having him. So surreal that my dreams decided to be a bit cruel the night before collection by making me dream that somehow there had been confusion & I was actually only fostering him until his real owners could collect him! I know, ridiculous but there we go.

Sol arrived & after the expected settling-in period, he has become a huge & loved part of my life. He is full of character & I feel completely blessed to have him, to have the privilege of being his owner, to be blessed with his love & trust. I also feel incredibly lucky that SeBPRA liaised with me about Sol becoming available again & didn’t just assume that as I’d applied for Fay, I wasn’t bothered about Sol.

When I looked at adopting from SeBPRA I was quite sad, though sadly not shocked, to see that on the SeBPRA facebook page a post had been made by one of the trustees pleading with people to remember that on the other side of the email, Facebook message or Facebook comment are real human beings doing their level best to find these dogs the right homes.

Believe me, I know how hard it is to be told no, to be told the dog you have set your heart on is either not available or not suited to you. It does feel unfair & yes, perhaps it feels personal when emotions are involved but here’s the thing, these dogs are not for everyone. They need the right home, the right people & the right environment to give them the maximum chance of success in their new life, a chance they thoroughly deserve. It really is a new life for them, Sol had never been in a house before I got him, didn’t know what mirrors or a TV were, didn’t know what windows were, was scared of all the household noises & didn’t even understand what it meant to leave or enter a room because he was unsure of doorways & had to work out they were something to walk through & not actually a trap. It takes a lot of trust & faith from SeBPRA to entrust these dogs to others, they are lost souls & deserve the best start so if you are told no for whatever reason, please don’t take it out on the rescue or the volunteers, they are doing their absolute best for these dogs & quite rightly prioritising the dogs.

I had a fantastic experience with SeBPRA when going through the adoption process, the kindness, support & care was there in abundance & it has become something of a hobby to try & persuade people I know who would be perfect homes to adopt a SeBPRA dog, which says it all really. Would I do it again? 100 times over! Did I feel it was worth it? Undoubtedly. Would I recommend SeBPRA? Absolutely.

If you are looking at adopting a SeBPRA dog my advice, from the perspective of somebody who has been through the ups (& downs) of the process, is the following:

1. The adoption process is very fair & thorough but rightly focuses on the dogs first & foremost.

2. These dogs are not a ‘one size fits all’, many of them have come from challenging backgrounds. For example I don’t think Sol would have settled well with a busy, noisy & boisterous household with other young dogs & children, despite being a young dog himself.

3. I mentioned *everything* in my application that was relevant, even back to childhood dogs, experience with rescue dogs, lifestyle, hobbies, what plans & options I had if I ended up in hospital or if there was a family emergency, the kind of life a dog would have if they lived with me, things I’d like to do with a dog eg agility, search & rescue, hiking & so on. Everything. Use it as an opportunity to shine on an application! 🌟

4. I stated experience with the Setter breed. I absolutely adore Setters but they are clever, ‘thinking’ dogs & they do need to be kept active physically & mentally as well as emotionally provided for. It sounds odd & quite precious if you haven’t had one but they are exceptionally affectionate as a rule & different to any other dog I’ve had. I’m sure the Pointers & Brittanys have similar but distinct traits too. Bear in mind also many of these dogs will have come from some kind of hunting or working background & will have needs that won’t suit everyone.

5. I always viewed the adoption process as whether *I* would be lucky enough to have a SeBPRA dog, not the other way round.

6. The SeBPRA team are volunteers who do it for the love of the dogs, they don’t ‘just’ do the adoption process, they provide post-adoption support in so many ways as well as arranging foster & sorting out things if an adopter or dog’s circumstances unexpectedly change. Speak & treat as you would wish to be spoken to & treated.

7. If you don’t have the patience for the adoption process, you likely won’t have the patience for a Setter. They are lovely, kind, mischievous bundles of dippy love but they can also be hard work, especially when you factor in high energy & a high prey drive. I’ve never known any other dog breed flick the ‘V’ with a facial expression alone but hey, it’s part of their charm!

8. If there is a reason a dog is not suitable for you it will be for a very good reason, it will be for the sake of the dog & what’s best for them & I think if we’re honest, that’s what we all want.

9. Manners maketh the man (& the woman & adopter).

10. The right dog will find his or her way to you, keep the faith but in the meantime, they are so worth the wait 🐶

Finally, go forth & adopt but please be kind, respectful & understanding in the process.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly but who does actually strive to do the deeds”

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