Kate’s farm: The rescue dog

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on May 21, 2013 in Rat News | Subscribe

Two weeks earlier we had driven from our new home in the Wye Valley to the
RSPCA centre at Newport. We had wanted a dog for years, but our lives in
London had made it impossible and we had had to be content with pet rats
instead. Rats make surprisingly clever pets, but now that we had a garden
surrounded by farmland, and woods and walks in every direction, it seemed
the ideal time to make the move from Roland to Rover.

Animal rescue centres are gloomy places. However dedicated the staff, or clean
the facilities, there is no escaping the fact that you are going to see rows
of creatures that have been abandoned, mistreated, or are simply unwanted.
We walked along the enclosures, past Staffies, rottweilers, yappy little
terriers and sad-eyed old faithfuls – dogs of every shape, size and
age. ‘It’s impossible,’ I whispered to Ludo. ‘How do you even begin to
choose?’ ‘This is your dog, right here,’ he said.

We had come to a kennel where a small, scruffy black and white mongrel was
jumping up and down repeatedly, as if to say, ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ We
stopped; he kept bouncing. ‘You’re right,’ I said, ‘he’s the one.’

Elaine, the centre manager, looked at us questioningly. ‘You’re really
interested in Junior? He’s been with us for months. No one wants him.’
‘Why not?’ I asked, imagining she was going to reveal that behind his
cartoon-cuteness lurked a savage killer. ‘Too bouncy.’ Ludo and I looked at
each other. A too-bouncy dog! Who could resist? ‘What’s his history?’ ‘Not
very happy, I’m afraid,’ Elaine said. ‘He was rescued from a flat where he
was shut in a room and, from what we can gather, was rarely fed or let out.
All the white parts of his coat were stained yellow with urine and he
weighed under half what he does now, and he’s still underweight. The officer
who went to pick him up said he was the thinnest dog he’d ever seen that was
still alive. Do you want to meet him properly?’

The day came when we could pick him up. We’d had the requisite home check,
registered with a local vet and enrolled in dog-training classes. Clutching
a brand new collar and lead I followed Elaine round to his kennel. We’d been
to visit him several times, and on Elaine’s advice, taken things from home
that would smell of us. I gathered up my old sweatshirt, a towel and a pair
of Ludo’s socks. ‘We’re going to change his name,’ I confessed. ‘That’s OK.
We don’t know what he was called before, so we just called him Junior for
our records.’ We walked to the car and I opened the boot. The dog
formerly-known-as-Junior stood looking bewildered. His bounce was gone. I
lifted him in and drove him to his new home. Over the course of the journey
he climbed from the boot to the back seat, cautiously moved to the front
seat, and then inched on to my lap, where he sat, surveying the landscape
over the top of the steering wheel. ‘Horatio!’ I said softly. Nothing.
‘Agamemnon!’ Not a stir.

‘I think we should call you Badger. It may not make you feel magnificent but
it won’t make me feel like a prat if I lose you on a walk.’

So Junior became Badger, the fourth dog with that name within three miles of
our house, we were to discover. So no marks for originality, but four years
down the line he is definitely magnificent – in a bouncy, scruffy sort of
way. katesfarm.org

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