When Middlesbrough Principal Nurse Manager Emma went to start her nightshift 18 months ago, little did she know she would end up fostering her beloved lurcher, Arty
18 months ago I went to work to start my nightshift as normal but I had no idea how it would end. I walked into the kennel area to find a very skinny looking dog sitting in a kennel on a drip. He looked at me with his huge brown eyes and looked so sad. I discovered he had been brought into the hospital by the RSPCA as a cruelty case as his owner had been struggling to look after him and hadn’t been feeding him. He was very dehydrated which is why he was on a drip.
Those big brown sad eyes stared at me all night and by the morning I had lost all common sense and fallen in love. I had 101 reasons why it wasn’t sensible to have another dog; I already have another rescue dog but I knew it was inevitable, I had to see if I could take him home. After lots of phone calls and communication with the RSPCA over the course of the morning my heart was broken, he had to go back into the care of the RSPCA. However, now I had made the decision that I wanted to give him a home and get him better - I had to fight for him. I also kept seeing those big brown eyes every time I shut my eyes! Arty ended up in the RSPCA kennels for another month before I was told I could foster him. All the paperwork was done he had met my other dog Bella, they instantly liked each other, the home check was complete, I could go and pick him up.
What was I thinking!! He peed and pood in the house as he wasn’t house trained and stole anything edible he could find. He worked out how to pop the bin lid and emptied the contents of the bin on a regular basis. I discovered very quickly that no food left out was safe. However, over the next few weeks he settled down and liked nothing better than to lay on top of me on the sofa and chill out after a walk and some training, he needed a lot of training! He was clever boy and worked out very quickly how to get the treat. He started to gain weight nicely, he was only 13kg when I first met him and his ideal body weight should have been around 25kg. He quickly started to trust me despite what he had been through previously.
The story however doesn’t end there; Arty was only in my care as a foster dog. I had arty for 3 months before he had to go back into RSPCA kennels. The day I took him back broke my heart. The RSPCA had won the court case and Arty didn’t have to go back to his previous owner but I had decided that now he was a fit, happy, well trained well-mannered dog that he was ready for a new home. I had done my job, I had made him better. So he went back to the RSPCA to be put up for rehoming.
The house was so quiet without him, no rubbish all over the floor, no accidents on the carpet to clean up, the sofa all to myself. Had I made the right decision?? Bella even seemed to miss him. Then out of the blue a month or so later there was a phone call from the RSPCA. Arty had been starved while in his previous home and like a lot of starvation cases some dogs unfortunately incur some health issues due to the starvation. Whilst in kennels Arty had some of these complications such as chronic diarrhoea and it was decided he wasn’t suitable for rehoming with these possible lifelong problems. “Would I like to come and get him?” said the voice on the end of the phone, “he has limited options” I knew what this meant.
Had I taken leave of my senses?? I jumped in the car and off I went. I arrived at the Kennels and before I walked through the door I knew it was the right decision, the inspector had gone and got Arty from his kennel and as I walked through the door he literally jumped over the reception desk and on to me. That was a whole year ago and I have never looked back.
Arty is a large lurcher who is full of life, he is super friendly with people and other dogs and likes nothing better than running and playing and chasing his tennis ball then curling up on the sofa for a long sleep. Arty has enriched my life and am grateful I was on shift that night he came in otherwise our paths may never have crossed. All the patients that come into the clinic whether they are rescue animals or not have owners that love and care for them. If they all feel about their pets how I feel about Arty then I’m sure having a poorly pet is very stressful and I try and keep this in mind when I’m nursing someone else’s animal back to health and treat them like they are my own.
Emma Russell our Principal Nurse Manager at Vets Now Middlesbrough.