Category Archives: Rescue Dogs

Dog Squad Blog – My Friend Watson

In April award winning author Jean Gill told us all about her four-legged friend Sherlock. This time it’s Watson’s turn.

In November, 2016,  I started re-taking the online quizzes as to which dog breed would suit me, and I knew it was time to bring a second dog into our life again. A friend for Sherlock, whose story I told here https://debmcewansbooksandblogs.com/2019/04/10/dog-squad-blog-elementary-my-dear-watson/. One of the breeds suggested by my online quizzes was a Khortals, a wire-haired pointing griffon and I took a fancy to these beautiful feisty red-coated gun-dogs. I was checking out breeders and refuges, torn between getting a puppy and adoption, when one description smacked me in the face. 

Donald. A Khortals cross.

No dog deserves that name, whatever your politics. I took it as a sign. My Long-Suffering Husband had already said yes to the principle of another dog and he leaves the detail to me. So we headed up the motorway for an hour to Donald’s refuge, one of the better ones.

Even if you don’t understand French, you’ll see that Donald is 21kg, slim and cute. The drab dog that waddled out to see us was overweight and would be 32kg when he shaped up and gained some muscle again. Too big for most people but we were pleased – we’d thought 21kg was very small as we were used to Pyrenean Mountain Dogs.

Shelter information on a dog has a kernel of truth and much that is either behaviour induced by the situation or even well-intentioned invention, like Donald’s size and weight, intended to attract new owners. So, in direct contradiction of the ‘facts’ in his description, Donald pulled like hell on the lead, growled at Sherlock when lunging after rubbish on the verge. 

We later found that he is the most chilled dog we’ve ever had about us going out and returning. He was supposed to be prone to anxiety separation, which was why he was returned to the shelter. Nope. No anxiety. That was supposed to be his failing but – don’t worry! – we discovered other reasons behind him being dumped twice. He’d been picked up as a stray in February, no ID; transferred to the refuge; adopted in July for the summer holidays and brought back in September when his owner went back to work. So he’d spent most of 2016 in the shelter, getting fat and being called Donald.

What was true about him was that he was confident and affectionate with people. That would be a nice change, I thought, but I was worried because he’d growled at Sherlock. Two male dogs at loggerheads would not be fun.


I wasn’t sure but I knew he’d be easy with my husband and with visitors, and that it was up to me to create a respectful relationship between the two dogs, with – hopefully – friendship developing. So I went for it, encouraged by the volunteers at the shelter saying to each other that ‘Donald le doux’ had found a home. Surely the nickname ‘the softie’ had some basis? Unless it was a joke like Little John in the Robin Hood tales – a giant.

When the newly-named Watson came home with us, I tested my theory about why he’d growled – and why he was fat. I kept Watson on-lead but in the same room as Sherlock, while they both ate, each from his own bowl, with some distance between the two. Watson gulped his food down and would have had Sherlock’s if he hadn’t been restrained by the lead. I was right. Food had been competitive in the box Watson shared with some adolescent hunting-dogs – and Watson had won more than his share for months.

Over a few months, Watson slowed down in his eating habits and respected Sherlock’s food bowl. He lost his ‘every dog for himself’ mentality and learned to trust me. The detectives are a great team, more comfortable with each other than I could have hoped. At twilight one day, wild boar were grazing in the orchard outside our fenced garden and the biggest of them charged right at me. Sherlock, the ex-hunting dog, shivered in total panic. Watson, who’d been raised as a pet, didn’t hesitate. He charged back at that boar, to protect me. The boar ran away and the fence prevented any disaster but Watson had shown true courage and I won’t forget that moment.

He’s not a morning person so will just wave a leg at you from the comfort of his bed, and accept a tummy tickle, while Sherlock does his happy dance at seeing you again each new day. He has a slight problem with his joints but that doesn’t spoil his life or ours and he’s always up for a little game of frisbee. 

Now we know Watson, do we have an idea as to why he was abandoned, twice? Maybe because he has an extreme hatred of bicycles and cyclists. I suspect something happened to him – perhaps an accident or perhaps he was forced to go on walks attached to a bicycle. I’ve trained him to lie down if a cyclist comes past when we’re out on a walk but I wouldn’t trust him off-lead. He has plenty of room to run around at home so that doesn’t matter.

Or maybe it’s because he does weird howls in the night sometimes. The total Baskerville experience.

I showed this private video, taken with a stealth camera, to our vet who was no more worried than Sherlock seems. The vet’s only suggestion was that Watson’s a werewolf. I think he sees dead people. If I’m there when he does it, I can say ‘No’ and he stops, so he’s in control of himself and he’s not ill. It’s very weird and we’re lucky our neighbours aren’t too close. Visitors who stay overnight here are warned.

He is also territorial in the car and barks at a passing fly, much to Sherlock’s confusion. When we’ve taken the detectives on holiday, Watson’s rendition of ‘Are we there yet?’ has been deafening but we’ve managed to drive three hours into the mountains and enjoy a week with these two amazingly civilised ex-shelter dogs.  A filled kong toy to chew when travelling has been an ear-saver.

Am I glad I said yes to Watson? Look at this photo. Pure joy. That’s what life is all about.

Thanks Jean. If you’d like to read more, Jean’s latest novel, an eco fantasy for nature lovers, takes the original viewpoint of bees as central characters. At special pre-order price here https://www.books2read.com/QueenBee and the Publication Date is 7thJune. I loved it.

AUTHOR BIO

www.jeangill.comJean Gill is an award-winning Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with two big scruffy dogs, a beehive named Endeavour, a Nikon D750 and a man. For many years, she taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. She is mother or stepmother to five children so life was hectic.

Publications are varied, including poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.

Sign up for Jean’s Special Readers’ Group at http://eepurl.com/AGvy5for exclusive news and offers. If you review one of Jean’s books you can add a dog to Jean’s Readers Dogs Hall of Fame on her website. Contact Jean at jean.gill@wanadoo.fr with comments or questions. She loves to hear from readers.

CONTACT

Contact jean.gill@wanadoo.fr

Sign up for Jean’s Newsletter http://eepurl.com/AGvy5

Youtube Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPvXZBW-VLBibveKhXA-QZQ

IPPY Award-winning ‘Best Author Website’ www.jeangill.com

Blog www.jeangill.blogspot.com

Twitter  https://twitter.com/writerjeangill

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/writerjeangill

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Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4619468.Jean_Gill

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Dog Squad Blog – Lord Banjo The Royal Pooch

Kathy Manos Penn is a corporate retiree—or escapee—who taught English before embarking on her 32-year corporate career. There,  it seemed she was always the go-to person for writing speeches, presentations, blogs, you name it, no matter her actual job. Says Kathy, “Finally, in my last ten years, I landed in a job with the word ‘communications’ in the title.” 

On a whim, she submitted an article to a local paper and wound up with a side job as a columnist. And then . . . her dog started writing. 

This week, Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch shares the story of how he came to be a dog author, with just a little bit of help from his mum. 

 Craigslist PostFlat-coated retriever needs a new home NOW. Home in foreclosure. Must go today or go to ANIMAL SHELTER tomorrow–Saturday.

And so begins my story.  I was the two-year-old dog in dire straits.  What were the chances someone would see a Friday afternoon post and respond in time to save me from a trip to the shelter the next morning?  Even if some caring person responded, would they want me once they discovered I was an 80-lb two-year-old black dog?

Eighty pounds? Strike one.  Black? Strike two.  It’s common knowledge we black dogs are the ones who get left behind at the shelter because so many folks are scared of black dogs, especially big, black dogs.  Only two years old?  Strike three for those who envision chewed shoes and furniture and rambunctious behavior. 

By now, everyone knows that I’m not a flat-coated retriever and that I went to a good home, not a shelter. Lucky for me, my mum was checking Craigslist nonstop in search of a companion pup for Tinker, who really was a flat-coated retriever mix.  Me? I look a bit like one with my wavy black fur, but I’m a Royal Pooch—a celebrity Royal Pooch.


I didn’t set out to become a celebrity, but that’s what happened.  My mum surprised my dad one Christmas by giving me a DNA test. Though my shiny, fluffy fur is black, my DNA results revealed that one of my great-grandfathers was a Great Pyrenees—a descendant of the majestic white dogs who were once the Royal Dogs of France.  I was sure our family and friends would be thrilled to learn I had royal blood and would want to hear all about my royal life, so I asked Mum to help me share the news in a book.

Puddin’, my feline sister, likes to say she helped me tell my story because she offered encouragement as Mum and I worked.  If you consider reclining on the desk or curling up in the file drawer as encouragement, you may agree with the little thing. 

Still,‘twas I, the Royal Pooch, who did the lion’s . . . I mean dog’s . . . share of the work.  Day after day, I could be found lying beneath Mum’s desk dictating my tale, and what a tale it was. 

 I thought my story was enchanting with a saved in the nick of time beginning and a happy ending.

  • Dog is rescued by loving family
  • Dog discovers he’s descended from royalty
  • Dog writes book
  • Dog resumes quiet life with Mum, Dad, and the cat.

But it turns out there’s more, much more.  My story didn’t end with me returning to my previously quiet life as I thought it would.  

That’s the first draft of the opening for my next book. What do you think?

Mum and I have a grand time doing book signings and meeting all kinds of folks, who admire my royal purple robe and love giving me belly rubs.  We discovered that dog lovers of all ages enjoy my sense of humor, so adults read my book and middle schoolers read my book and plenty of people laugh at my antics. 

I find it odd that my book is considered to be fiction. I mean, it’s all absolutely true.  Really! Every bit of it happened to moi.  Mum says most adults have a hard time believingthat I, a dog, wrote a book!  She tried to explain that for grownups to think of my book as nonfiction, they must have a “willing suspension of disbelief,” whatever that means.  I think that may be something she heard ages ago when she was in school.

Nonetheless, I didwrite a book, and I’m almost finished with my second one. I’m such a generous and gracious guy that I’m allowing the cat, Princess Puddin’, to have her own chapter this time.  She’s a beauty of a calico cat and quite intelligent. She told me in no uncertain terms, “If you think you can call yourself Lord Banjo just because some silly French King back in the day declared Great Pyrenees to be Royal, then you can call me Princess! So there.”

I think she has diva tendencies, but I love her in spite of her tiny tantrums. Until our next book comes out—see, I even said our book—you may want to visit Mum’s blog  https://theinkpenn.blogspot.com/to read stories from the Princess and the Pooch.  Yes, Mum writes blogs about books and things, but we all know that it’s we four-legged writers who are the most interesting.

These days, both Lord Banjo and the Princess write columns for a local paper, and their mum graciously posts them on her blog at https://theinkpenn.blogspot.com/. You can sign up to receive their posts via email, and you can contact the whole family at inkpenn119@gmail.com. They love to hear from readers. Click here http://mybook.to/ViewbookonAmazonto find Book one, “Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch,” on Amazon  

mybook.to/ViewbookonAmazon

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Dog Squad Blog – The Neighbour Pack

This week my friend Michelle Neighbour tells us about her love of animals and the ever expanding Neighbour pack.

As a massive animal lover I’d lost my beloved dog Holly in 2006 when she was twelve. In 2010 Holly’s beloved sister Sammie died at the grand old age of sixteen. I swore never to have another pet. I’d had the dogs before having children and thought it was unfair to have pets when I had young children to look after. 

That plan didn’t last long. 

Whilst based in Germany my children and I decided to get a kitten, so in 2012 Luna became part of the family. We picked this name as we were Harry Potter fans and one of the characters was quiet and subdued, much like this lovely kitten. 

However, we discovered that Luna wasn’t a kitten, she was the mum. I went to view the kittens and took pity on Luna as at eleven months old she’d had her first set of kittens. I took mum and kittens that day… the owners weren’t bothered about poor Luna. I had Trixie and a friend took her sister Lily. Trixie was so called as she had a bit of a devilish streak in her… much like the character Bellatrix Lestrange in, yes you’ve guessed it, Harry Potter. 

I left the army in December 2013 and moved back to the UK, to West London. 

I know this is a dog squad blog, so I’m getting to the dogs.

In 2015 I couldn’t stand it any longer. I wanted a dog and l wanted one now. So one weekend, on a whim, I drove up to Bolton and whilst stuck in the infamous M6 traffic jam, scrolled through Facebook and found him… By Sunday, Blue the Chorkie (Chihuahua/Yorkshire Terrier Cross) had joined the family, so called as he had a blue eye. 

After a week or two, maybe a bit longer, I felt bad that Blue was alone during the day. I spoke to the family of Blue’s mum and dad and found out that Blue’s brother had been returned to them. It was fate. That weekend I drove up north again.

When trying to choose a name for the newest member of the pack my daughter decided that he looked like a chocolate chip cookie, and so Chip was named.

Chip

Our pack was now complete. Two dogs and two cats… yeah right. 

In 2017 I was scrolling through Facebook (damn social media) and saw that a family had a puppy and that their other dog was being horrible to it. I drove straight over and picked up the cute little bundle who they’d named Bobby. 

I’ve heard it’s bad luck to change an animal’s name but didn’t really want a dog that sounded like it was named after an uncle. So, in line with our love of Harry Potter and the fact it sounded similar, Dobby, a Jack Russell Terrier, became part of The Neighbour Pack. 

So that’s it. Our pack is complete, and we’re definitely stopping there. Well, at least for now. 

The Neighbour Dogs

Michelle completed the London Marathon last month and raised money for an animal sanctuary. If you’re feeling generous, there’s still time to donate and here’s the link. https://www.everyclick.com/hillsideanimalsanctuary-mneighbour?fbclid=IwAR2Owp0ysi-2yqBTPt-V8Nwv7YNX7zvdI91GUXXv34ZS2PnmYH8MvnIYNZQ

Dog Squad Blog – Boydog and Lollopy

This week’s post is from Boydog’s point of view. His people parents (Tania and Simon) live down the road from us in Cyprus. Tania is currently fulfilling a longterm goal of hers by providing delicious and nutritious meals to the local community, via her catering company, Mish Mash. She also teaches cookery when time allows. So without further ado, over to Boydog.

Boydog

Let me introduce myself. My name is Boydog. I know you want to laugh, everyone does, but Mummy and Daddy told me that I am a dog and a boy so it seemed pretty obvious at the time. I put it down to a lack of imagination if the truth be told but I don’t hold it against them because for a few years after they rescued me, I was the happiest Boydog in the world. Then along came Lollopy. 

How cute am I?

Now I’m not saying it’s all bad but things did change for the worse. My dinner time definitely got worse. I’m not a greedy dog and sometimes I’d like to have a nibble then a wander and pop back later for a little bit more. Not any more I can’t, not since Lollopy came along. If I don’t gobble down every last morsel at the precise moment the kibble is poured in my dish, the second I take two steps in any direction, a huge nose dives into my bowl and devours every last crumb. This has certainly added a few kilos to my ever expanding figure as I now have to empty the bowl whether I am hungry or not! 

Walk time has definitely got worse. I always recognised the signs that a walk was coming up. Daddy (or at the weekend Mummy and Daddy) would put on their ‘special’ shoes and gather up my harness and lead. I would give the odd “woof” which I wouldn’t call bothersome to anyone, then off we’d go. Not any more! not since Lollopy came along! The ‘special’ shoes are recognised before they are even on feet and the fun begins. The frantic charging around the garden, barking at several hundred decibels and the yells from Daddy and Mummy to cease that awful noise almost makes me rather have a quick poop behind the tree in the garden. 

And we’re off!

Once out in the street, I used to enjoy a calm leisurely trot, sniffing all the wonderful aromas and then thoughtfully masking them with my own. I was forgiven if the dreaded black cat crossed my path as it was in my nature to protect my Mummy and Daddy from such a peril. Not any more! not since Lollopy came along! Lollopy seems to think it’s a race and tries to cover as many miles in the shortest space of time possible. Mummy complains that her shoulder will be pulled out of its socket. Daddy complains a bit but I’ve heard him whisper “black cat” close to her ear just to wind up Mummy even more. 

Family mealtimes used to be such a treat. I had managed the art of begging so Mummy and Daddy thought I was just laying innocently under the table but managed to sneak the odd morsel which Daddy fed me without Mummy seeing. Not any more he can’t! not since Lollopy came along!

Lollopy feeding

Lollopy is so tall that she can almost put her nose on the table and eat off Daddy’s plate much to Mummy’s disgust. Obviously Daddy doesn’t let her so she has to sit further back than I used to, which means Mummy always notices when Daddy sneaks us the odd morsel and all three of us get shouted at. There used to be the odd plate to finish off but now the plates are scraped and rushed into the dishwasher before Lollopy gives everything a pre-wash. 

And then we come to bedtime, the worst change of all. I had my own lovely little corner at the bottom of the bed. Occasionally, I would find myself trapped by feet as Mummy or Daddy stretched out, but generally I had a peaceful and comfortable night. Not any more I don’t, not since Lollopy came along! Lollopy takes up the whole bed. Mummy wakes up having a panic attack because she’s dreaming she’s trapped in a strait jacket, having woken up unable to move a single muscle. Mummy moans at Daddy about this massive lolloping dog sleeping in the middle of the bed and I have resorted to sleeping in my own bed on the floor – not my idea of a comfortable night. 

I don’t always sleep on the floor!

The worse time of my life was when Mummy and Daddy would bring down their big bags and carefully fill them with as many clothes as they could squeeze in. I would always try to sneak in but they would look at me with their sad actor’s eyes and tell me that, although they love me dearly, I couldn’t go with them. They would drive off with mock tears in their eyes and I would be on my own for a hundred years at least. A strange lady would come and give me food and a quick hug. I might get the odd walk but it wasn’t like a daddy walk. Day became night and night became day over and over. I felt sad and forgotten. Not any more I don’t, not since Lollopy came along! Now I have a friend. When the sad eyes say their goodbyes, Lollopy and I perform our best acting skills to make them feel mega guilty but then…….. we have a ball! Lollopy chews up all the cushions and I dig up the stones. Lollopy eats all the plants and I chase the cats. We both go mental when the postman or dustmen come. This is our home, this is our family and we are in it together…. forever.

Any chance of some treats, Mum?

Dog Squad Blog – Daddy’s Girl Snoopy

This week Jill Stavrou-Shaw tells us about life in Cyprus with Snoopy.

Snoopy was a Daddy’s girl, she never forgot the man who stopped his car and rescued her. She was the only puppy left alive from a litter of 3 who were abandoned by the side of the road in Cyprus. She was only weeks old, far too young to be taken from her mother, and even the vet didn’t expect her to survive. However, with his advice and several weeks of bottle feeding at home this little white puppy, who looked more like a rat, slowly started to turn into a bundle of curly white fur. 

She was a Cyprus poodle apparently? To her newly adopted family she became “Snoopy”.

Snoopy’s new human Dad always felt completely responsible for her and never having had a dog before, and Snoopy never having had a human either, they made things up as they went along. Life, work, family and Snoopy all now had to be juggled. Snoopy’s human Mum worked away a lot, so that left lots of Dad and dog time; the bond between them grew and they became inseparable. The best part of each day for Snoopy was when her human Dad came home from work. She would sit on top of the sofa looking out of the window. Her joy at seeing him erupted into this yapping, crying, bouncing bundle of flying fur who couldn’t wait to be scooped up into his arms and kissed and cuddled.

Snoopy’s human Dad thought her delight to see him was just about being fed and walked and having someone home again for company but for Snoopy it was so much more, this was the human who had saved her. They both were beginning to learn what unconditional love was really all about.

Snoopy loved to sun bath, crazy really for a dog with so much fur? She would happily snooze in the sun for hours; her short bursts of activity were all saved for her Dad. Walks to the park were tolerated as cuddling at home was far preferable. Drives in the car were much better but sitting in the basket on her Dad’s little motorbike and having a drive around was simply amazing. This special treat was usually saved for the annual trip to the vet, the delight of this mode of travel soon made her forget about the horrible but necessary jabs and potions a dog had to endure to stay well.  

This blissful life in the sun was to change when Snoopy’s human Mum and Dad had to go to England for a while, her humans were far more anxious about her travelling on a plane than she was. The suitcases, boxes and crates that had started to fill the house were confusing, but having tried to sleep in them all, Snoopy much preferred the suitcase full of her Dad’s clothes. If her pack were on the move then of course she would be going with them, she probably hoped the motorbike would be the chosen form of travel?     

Snoopy was eventually temped from the suitcase to a crate with regular tiny treats of chocolate. Nothing else would work. A lovely old jumper smelling of her Dad was put in there for her to snuggle up to, she knew he was too big to fit in too, but she would have much preferred that. Seeing Snoopy sitting in her crate, being lifted by a folk lift truck at the airport to be taken to the plane was almost too much for her humans to bear. Thank goodness we were all on the same flight!   

On landing at Manchester airport in the grey and rainy weather Snoopy’s humans were feeling a terrible mixture of emotions, their unspoken anxiety made even worse when suitcases started being taken from the plane on a conveyer belt, surely Snoopy would have her own fork lift truck here too?

Snoopy had now been away from her humans for hours, her human Dad’s need to be reunited with her was now exactly the same as her wait for him to come home from work every day. This was going to be emotional!

The drive to collect Snoopy from the cargo part of the airport seemed so wrong – she wasn’t cargo, she was family. We were mildly reassured by the “Flying Vets for Pets” signs. But we almost missed them as they were totally obscured by the driving rain that was now lashing the car. Maybe she would forgive us for not bringing the motorbike with the basket after all?

We finally found “arrivals for animals” and were met by a lovely vet who was here to hand over our precious cargo. She had clearly seen the anxious faces of so many humans who had come to collect their pets, she greeted us with a welcoming “You must be Snoopy Stavrou-Shaw’s” Mum and Dad?”. 

We were slightly surprised at the formality of using our family name for the dog? but of course that’s who she was, Snoopy Stavrou-Shaw. Our voices confirming we were just that, were soon drowned out by that familiar happy, yapping and barking that greeted us every evening in Cyprus.

A delighted flying bundle of fur came running towards us. For the first time Snoopy seemed torn as to who to greet first, then we were both jumped on by the happiest overwhelmed Cyprus poodle.

Snoopy Stavrou-Shaw had arrived safely in England, the formality of her new extended name rather suited her, so we kept it. She was back with her pack now and looked rather smug as she sat on her human Daddy’s lap as we drove to our new home.   

Thanks for sharing Snoopy’s story Jill.

If you enjoy dog stories and Cyprus, you may like my Island Dog Squad Series. http://smarturl.it/ru5uye

“I have nothing but the highest of praises to sing for this thought-provoking, tear-jerking tale of torture, death, hope and survival.” Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite – 5 stars

  

Dog Squad Blog – Elementary My Dear Watson

Jean Gill is an award-winning Welsh writer and photographer living in the south of France with two big scruffy dogs, a Nikon D750 and a man. For many years, she taught English in Wales and was the first woman to be a secondary headteacher in Carmarthenshire. She is mother or stepmother to five children and despite having had such a hectic life so far, Jean is a successful author, photographer, dog trainer and beekeeper. With Scottish parents, an English birthplace and French residence, she can usually support the winning team on most sporting occasions.

Jean shares Sherlock’s story in this week’s post.

Every morning Sherlock does a little happy dance when he sees me or my husband, John. His partner in crime, Watson, raises one ear and demands a tummy tickle. Watson is not a morning person. The detectives enjoy breakfast and a walk in the woods, followed by bodyguard duties, during which they watch over me. Their previous lives were not so idyllic.

Sherlock with Watson

Five years ago, Sherlock was named Rudi by the animal shelter that took him in, here in northern Provence. He’s a Gascogny Blue Griffon, a scent hound, and if you look up the breed, you’ll see that all the owners are men with guns. They’re so prized as hunting dogs that I get asked whether I’m hunting, when I take him for a walk. Little female me, no gun – they only see the dog!

If you know dogs, and people’s habits with them, you can work out much of a shelter dog’s story from his behaviour. Rudi was undoubtedly dumped by a hunter, to be replaced by a younger dog, better suited to hunting. He’d been in the shelter six months and was unlikely to leave alive because he was too big, too old, male, too black – all unpopular characteristics – and received wisdom says that hunting dogs make bad pets because they are semi-wild and run away all the time. 

Luckily for Rudi, we wanted a big, beautiful (any colour), older male dog who could cope with our feisty female Pyrenean Mountain Dog, Blanche. I’ve worked with a top dog trainer, Michel Hasbrouck, so am confident that I can cope with dog problems but I don’t seek extra ones. When I adopt a dog with a past, I use my head, then give my heart. A forever home is just that. I hate shelters and Rudi’s was one of the worst. 

Blanche and Sherlock

When we met him, Rudi flinched when touched but showed no aggression. He ran away when called, typical of a dog who’s punished for previous disobedience when he does come to his human. He’d known only beatings. He was very chilled with Blanche when they were let off lead together in the enclosed wasteground that passed for an exercise yard at the shelter. And he looked me in the eyes, sad, passive and stubborn. I don’t expect love at first sight and didn’t get it but I knew I could create a bond. I’ve done it before.

When we went back to get him, I went to the pen and my heart broke. Rudi was lying beside a huge pile of restaurant waste in a dog-bowl and he’d given up. He saw me and gave just one bark. He knew I’d come back for him and he was up for it. 

So we now had a hunting-dog, who’d almost certainly never been in a house before. He was petrified at coming up the steps and through the front door. But he wanted to be with me so in he came. He lay down – great! Then John turned on the TV and Sherlock bolted out the door as if monsters were after him, which of course they were.

After two days of quiet television, Sherlock relaxed enough to watch the football and now one of his favourite places is in front of the TV. Blanche was a huge help in showing her new friend the ropes and of course jumped on him occasionally – that was her leadership style. He suffered terrible nightmares for months and on one occasion, Blanche and I both rushed to find him because of the terrible noises. He was asleep. Blanche and I looked at each other, shrugged and left him to it.

Step by step, Sherlock became the dog he’s always wanted to be. He comes when he’s called, after thinking about it. He takes treats. Like most hunting-dogs he’d probably been trained to refuse food by hand. He loves being stroked and, when the grandchildren visited, he ran up and down the garden with them, so gentle. When he found his voice, even Blanche was impressed. He has the deep bay of a hound, not at all suitable for suburbia but, luckily, we are on the border of a French village, with a huge garden and good neighbours.

He has grown more confident but still has fears. One of our training successes was with regard to his fear of sharp noises that sounded like gunshot. We think that’s probably why he was abandoned – a traumatic incident out hunting that left him too scared to work. He had an extreme reaction to us popping the cork on the local sparkling wine, Clairette. So, purely for the dog’s sake, we did this most days until he grew used to the sound. Now, we can pop away without him even lifting his head.

I doubt that he ever had a bed. He now uses all of those available, as the mood takes him, and he also turns two rugs into dens. He is the sweetest and most civilised dog I’ve ever known, with no desire to escape whatsoever. He used to be petrified at the sight or sound of hunters. Now, he ignores them. That life was a long time ago and more than his name has changed. When we lost Blanche and adopted Watson, it was Sherlock’s turn to show the ropes to the new dog. And he did. To show his advanced level of house-training, Sherlock even taught Watson his favourite domestic activity: hoovering – or rather Dysoning. And the video is here to prove it! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5Q4xPrKLO4&t=  

Watson looks sweet, doesn’t he? He is! But he was abandoned twice and spent most of 2017 in a shelter – a story for another day.

Great story, thanks Jean. If you would like read more of Jean’s true stories about dogs, you’ll find them in ‘One Sixth of a Gill’ (available free to members of her Special Readers’ Group http://eepurl.com/AGvy5) and in ‘Someone To Look Up To’. http://books2read.com/someone , on offer at $0.99/ £0.99.

Top Pick Award from Litpick Student Reviews. By IPPY and Global Ebook Award Winning author.
‘Jean Gill has captured the innermost thoughts of this magnificent animal.’
 Les Ingham, Pyr 

Jean’s publications are varied, including poetry and novels, military history, translated books on dog training, and a cookery book on goat cheese. My favourites are ‘Someone to Look Up To’ and the Troubadours series.

Book 1 of the multi-award-winning Historical Fiction series The Troubadours Quartet ‘Believable, page-turning and memorable.’ Lela Michael, S.P. Review 

If you want to know more, sign up for Jean’s newsletter at http://eepurl.com/AGvy5 for updates and a free book. If you review one of Jean’s books you can add a dog to Jean’s Readers Dogs Hall of Fame on her website. Contact Jean at jean.gill@wanadoo.fr with comments or questions. She loves to hear from readers.

Dog Squad Blog – The Lady of the House

Today’s dog story is from Mandy. We met at netball training years ago and have been friends ever since. Mandy lives near Monchengladbach in Germany with her husband Richard and their dog.

Hi I’m Mandy and have a wonderful little Mini Schnauzer named Lady. She is my first dog. I never imagined I’d own a dog, as my husband Richard has never wanted one. We have four grown up boys and they decided to buy me a dog for my birthday. They checked with Richard first and he agreed the day after. I knew I wanted a Mini Schnauzer and two of the boys came to the farm to look at the dogs with me. This was supposed to be an initial visit with a view to picking a dog at a later date. There were three Minis there and I was drawn to Lady who was the smallest. As soon as I picked her up I knew she was the one so decided she was coming home with us. 

I think I need a haircut mum

Lady didn’t have a good start in life. I’m not sure where she was born but she was taken to the farm in the Netherlands and that’s where we picked her up. She already had a pet passport and all of her vaccinations were up to date. She was five and a half months old when she came home with us, and I believe whatever happened to her as a young puppy has caused her to be anxious. When we visited the vet to get Lady checked over, she had quite a bad ear infection. Luckily it cleared up within a few weeks with the treatment and she hasn’t had one since.

Hello Flower
Hello Flower


Lady is quite small even for a Mini. She is great with people but is quite anxious around other dogs. She’s never really played with them and even at puppy school she would hang around my legs. Saying that, she loves to play and also loves lots of cuddles with her human brothers and her people parents. Richard is smitten and has welcomed Lady as a big part of our family.

A Cuddle Break

She can be quite a stubborn little madam at times and refuses to go out when it’s raining, but she absolutely loves the snow. We enjoy the outdoors especially walking holidays and Lady travels well in the car so we take her with us. Thankfully, many hotels and guesthouses in Germany are dog friendly so I’ve never had to leave Lady in kennels – she’s a sensitive girl and I don’t think she would cope.

Yay, snow!

Lady sleeps in her crate at night in the front room but only goes in there when I go to bed. She’s usually sleeping on the sofa by then and I lay her in her bed like I would a baby, and of course I give her a kiss goodnight (but don’t tell anyone). 

Since Lady came into our lives I am much more confident with other dogs. I was always apprehensive of them as a dog bit me when I was a child. It’s also amazing how many people stop and speak when you’re with a dog; including people that I have lived near for years but have never noticed me. 

Lady is intelligent and learns quickly. She loves her food, which is a great incentive when teaching her anything new. Her favourite thing is tummy rubs and she always paws for more – just as she’s doing now. 

Like most dogs, Lady loves going for walks and this is good for me too. I take her out at least three times each day and try to make one of the walks an hour long. This has started to show on my waistline so it’s a win, win situation. 

Coming for a walk?

Lady is almost nineteen months old and has such a sweet nature. It doesn’t matter if I go out or even leave the room for five minutes or three hours, I get the same welcome and she goes bananas when I return. She’s my little shadow so maybe that’s what we should have named her. On second thoughts, no. Lady suits her because she’s our little Lady. She’s brought lots more love to our home and now we can’t imagine our lives without her. 

Lady is loveable, just like the main characters in ‘The Island Dog Squad’ who are based on real dogs featured earlier in this blog series. Click http://smarturl.it/ru5uye to check out book one.

“I have nothing but the highest of praises to sing for this thought-provoking, tear-jerking tale of torture, death, hope and survival.” Rosie Malezer for Readers’ Favorite – 5 stars