It’s now two months since we’ve had a new addition to our family: a working cocker spaniel. I’d say she’s settling in quite well.
We’ve named her Artemis, after the Goddess of the Hunt, as she is a hunting breed. She is our second dog, and sometimes I can’t help comparing her to our old dog, Merlin.
Artemis is a medium slight black female dog, whilst Merlin was a small white male dog.
Artemis has floppy ears, which her paws pat at when walking with her nose close to the ground; whilst Merlin had pricked upright ears that only floomped down to show excitement when he saw us after a day at work.
Artemis apparently has external skin issues (Battersea found her with mange), whilst Merlin had a plethora of internal medical issues that we never got to the bottom of.
Artemis has a full set of almost whites meaning she loves chewing plush toys and holding tennis balls, whilst Merlin had barely any teeth so didn’t like holding anything in his mouth.
Merlin was a slow walker that stopped to sniff at a very leisurely pace, whilst Artemis is a fast walker and sniffs whilst she walks as if she has no time in the world.
On seeing birds Merlin was proactive and actually tried to chase and catch them, whilst Artemis barks or whines at them.
On walks Merlin never bothered to untangle his legs from the lead and would stop walking to indicate he required assistance, whilst Artemis is able to untangle her legs from the lead.
Merlin used to sleep all the time and lounge, whilst Artemis appears to be on crack and would eat books so we have to keep her out of the hubby’s study.
Merlin was a grumpy old man with little patience for other dogs, whilst Artemis is definitely still young, wanting to explore the world, play, and chase butterflies.
We adopted Artemis from Battersea in London, and the process was very quick. I signed up to Battersea online, and within a week had a phone call with them discussing the online questionnaire to clarify some points. We also sent a photo of the garden to show Battersea that it was dog proof.
A little time later I received a phone call about a toy-sized dog with a missing eye, and we felt the small size and medical issues weren’t aligned with what we were after.
A few months later I received a voicemail and email about Artemis. At the time I was on jury service and about to go into deliberation so quickly forwarded the email to the hubby hoping that he could give Battersea a ring. And so the hubby did.
The phone call was on a Wednesday, we visited Battersea on the Saturday, and we collected Artemis the next Tuesday – it took 6 days.
For the initial visit we were in a large room with Artemis, where we interacted with her and fed her. She was very excitable and took to balls and treats very well – she was so sweet. Then we took her on a little walk to see how she was on a lead, again very excitable.
We were sold! There wasn’t a possibility of taking her home that day, as she had to finish a course of treatment, so anticipated on waiting a week. Then the call came that the vets gave her the all clear and we could take her home early – so we jumped at the chance.
On collection day Battersea gave us a bag of food, a tennis ball, and the remainder of her anti allergy pills – they were very helpful indeed. Since having her home, Battersea have called and emailed a few times asking if everything is ok and if we needed help or advice on anything – so the after care was really good.
We adopted Merlin from Dogs Trust 9 years ago. The process in comparison to Battersea was not as quick, but this was years ago, so maybe things have changed. Also we didn’t have a car back then.
We visited the site and looked around. We saw dogs behind windows and were informed to write down names of dogs that we liked the look of. Then we gave Dogs Trust our list, which they went through, and then said none of the dogs were suitable for what we were looking for.
On that first visit, we were introduced to a staffie-labrador mix called Max, and took him for a walk outside. I remember him being quite adorable so we said yes to rehoming him.
On our second visit we had an appointment with a dog behaviourist because Max had nipped one of the volunteers. This meeting was in a cosy living room, and we were informed that Max was essentially an overgrown puppy that required lots of training.
He was very energetic and bouncing off the walls like a bull in a china shop – I remember thinking that our living room at the time was much smaller than this room, so how could we curb this bull. The behaviourist noticed how uncomfortable we were and felt it wasn’t a good fit for first time dog owners.
Then we were introduced to Merlin, an older dog, who had just been taken in a few days prior. We met Merlin in the kennels and gave him a little walk outside. He was a lot calmer than Max and we felt Merlin was more aligned with what we were expecting as first time dog owners.
On the third visit the hubby attended a talk given to all new potential owners, which was compulsory prior to rehoming a dog. The behaviourist saw the hubby and said we had actually been given the talk on our previous visit – so that was a wasted visit.
Then on our fourth visit, we finally collected Merlin and brought him home. The hubby went back for the final fifth visit for Merlin’s final vaccination for kennel cough. I remember we were informed that we couldn’t walk Merlin outside just yet as he wasn’t fully vaccinated, so only after this final visit were we able to walk Merlin outside.
At some point Dogs Trust came to view the garden to make sure it was dog proof. Unlike Battersea recently, we received no follow up calls or emails from Dogs Trust. Though, as I say, this was 9 years ago so maybe things have changed since then. I definitely appreciated the appointment with the dog behaviourist at Dogs Trust, though this might not be available to every family that wishes to adopt.
However you adopt your dog, be it via Battersea, Dogs Trust, or any other rescue, know that you are doing a truly wonderful thing: giving a dog a second chance of a loving home.
Both our experiences were different. Both our dogs are very different too! I’m grateful that we have a second chance rehoming another rescue – it’s been a long time coming!
I do of course still compare our second dog to our first dog, but I’m glad that they are almost polar opposites because it in no way feels like a replacement. Love your dogs up – they are truly wonderful beings.