In August of 2009, Trevor came to us from the small pack at the home of our friends Kim and Neil. We got Trevor as a companion for Ulysse, after Flash died (Ulysse had come to us as a companion for Flash after Hobie’s death). As of today, then, Trevor has been with us for six and a half years. He will be ten years old at the beginning of April.
As you probably know, Ulysse died a year ago. Since then, we have been keeping an eye on Trevor, to see how he copes with being an only child. As far as we can ascertain, he entered a large pack as a puppy, went into a rescue centre (circumstances not clear), joined Kim’s pack of six and then became one of a smaller pack with us. Periods looking after Tania’s dogs, and a few months last year with Tuur and Elise meant that he was never alone for too long. We thought he was doing well. Our plan was to let him live out his life, then not replace him; to have a few years without dogs, so we could more easily disappear off on a whim, without having to worry about caring for dogs while travelling in Europe, of finding care for them while travelling further afield.
While we were in the UK for a couple of weeks earlier this year, Trevor stayed with our good friends Rob and Julie, and their four dogs. When we returned, it was to a changed Trevor. We hadn’t really noticed – you never do notice changes when you’re close to the animal – but Trevor had become less bubbly, less enthused over the past months. We noticed, when we picked him up from Rob and Julie, that he was the Trevor we had all but forgotten. It was clear to us that he really needed a canine companion. He needed to be less reliant on us for entertainment and, yes, he needed another dog to fill the vacant position of his number two (no way will Trevor ever put up with being anything other than top dog).
We had decided that Trevor needs a companion. Previous experience showed us that it needs to be either a bitch, or a submissive dog. We don’t much like submissive dogs, so a bitch it was. From our point of view; and contrary to everything we had believed when we had Greyhounds, Alsatian crosses, Labradors etc., it had to be a smaller dog. A dog that could fit easily into the camper and be manageable when camping. In short, something about the size of Ulysse, if not smaller. Finally, it needed to be a dog whose future life expectancy is about the same as Trevor’s. Although that will undoubtedly mean double pain in a few years, it will mean that we won’t go looking for another dog to keep the newcomer company when Trevor dies. Selfish? Maybe, but that’s what we are working with.
We spent days scouring the web sites of local rescue centres, trying to find a close match to our wish-list. Eventually, we came across a site that was accumulating details for a few refuges in another part of France. This is what we saw:
There is not a bad bone in this dog’s body which is nothing short of amazing given the life she has led! Probably numerous litters of puppies, little food, no shelter …..the picture tells it all! The owner signed her over to the refuge without a second glance and with bad grace after she was spotted by passers by and her dreadful conditions reported!Now been bathed and waiting for her proper home – she is so kind and affectionate!”
The only trouble was that the refuge in which this dog was held is almost four hours’ drive from us; so we had to be sure. We put out an enquiry about her and a couple of other dogs. The lady who runs the accumulator site, and houses some rescue dogs herself, suggested strongly that Eos was more in need of early adoption than any of the others on her site – including those she was housing herself.
That settled it. We told the refuge that we were interested, and would come along, with Trevor, to see if Eos warmed to us, and would accept Trevor (and, most importantly, vice versa).
We arrived at the refuge at about 2.30pm and met Jane, an English volunteer. Accompanied by Jane, we first walked Eos with Trevor, to see if they would accept each other. I had no real worries about Trevor, but Eos was an unknown quantity to us.
We next completed the paperwork and formalities. Of course, this being a professionally run refuge, there need to be formalities, to ensure that the dog is going to a suitable place with suitable people. That’s more important in this case, because there’s no way, even if they wanted to, that anyone from the refuge could just drop by to see how we’re doing. And, of course, this is France. Can you imagine anything being done without formalities and paperwork?
We finally drove home, arriving just before 7.30pm, having been away for nine and a half hours, all told. Both dogs were impeccable on the way home; Trevor was, of course, on Clare’s lap on the rear seat (have I mentioned that he is the world’s biggest Mummy’s boy?), while Eos was in the back, spending some time in the cage, some on the blanket outside it and some just looking out of the windows.
Eos got out of the car on arrival and was obviously nervous about going inside the house. Having persuaded her in, she was looking around, unsure what she should do. I picked her up and put her on a sofa, the one Trevor uses a lot, to let her know that this was okay.
She settled on it quite quickly. She refused food and water, and didn’t really want to move from where she was. I wanted her to get used to being in the company of people, and although I was sure she would be okay on her own overnight, I carried her upstairs to my room, so she could enjoy the same conditions as Trevor. I was also unsure whether she was clean, and would prefer to deal with any issues straight away, rather than come down to them in the morning.
When I brought her down next morning, she immediately made it clear that she wasn’t used to tiled floors. Very much like Flash on wet floors, she was straight up onto her claws, sliding around like crazy. She skidded to the crate, went in, and refused to come out again.
She had found her safe place. She stayed there all morning. We laid towels and blankets all over the floor, to give her a surface to walk on (always worked with Flash; he was so gullible, if we laid a towel on the floor and immediately picked it up again, he would confidently walk on that piece of floor). Eventually, she made her way to the door and, after a number of false starts, outside to do her business. Still not eating.
We took the two dogs for a 30 minute walk mid-afternoon. Trevor was Trevor, running off chasing who-knows-what, and coming back on demand; Eos stayed on the lead and behaved impeccably. The first walk with her was immeasurably less stressful that the first walk with either Trevor or Ulysse.
When we returned, she drank a little water, but still refused food.
Clare went off to Ikea to get some rugs, which would look a lot better on the floor than towels and blankets, if we need to provide cover for any length of time. While she was out, and I was working on my laptop in the corner, Eos ventured out of the cage and laid on the quilt in the middle of the room. She stayed there all evening.
Getting up this morning, Eos showed great interest in the smells coming from the kitchen, walking around, sniffing the air. We offered her the biscuits we had put out for her earlier. She sniffed at them and turned away. I walked away, leaving them there. A minute or so later, I heard crunching noises, and prepared to shout at Trevor for stealing her food. It wasn’t Trevor. She ate a small amount, then turned away. A short while later, more crunching. She had eaten the lot. I withdrew the bowl and, without any expectation, put the bowl of tuna down for her. Seconds later, that bowl was empty, too.
Eos is still nervous; that will take a while to overcome; but she is eating, she and Trevor are comfortable in each other’s company – and she is still less than 72 hours out of the refuge.