In December of 2013 I decided that one day I’d like to adopt a retired greyhound. I knew I wouldn’t be able to re-home one until I had a house with a garden and my current top floor flat just wouldn’t cut it for such a big dog.
Just for fun, I browsed on the local rescue websites, one being the RSPCA. On their home page was this little scrawny ginger foxy dog.
I already owned a very tiny ginger chihuahua (Tiger Lily) who was then 5 months old. Knowing that chihuahuas needed constant socialisation I wondered if a little friend would be a good idea.
I called them up and was told we couldn’t see him until we’d gone in to sign forms and had had a home visit. The boy and I stood on the corner of the street thinking “should we go, shouldn’t we?” My view was that if we had the space and money to give the little one a home that we should at least try.
We got the bus and walked for 20 minutes to get to the rescue. We filled in forms and booked a home visit.
A lovely lady visited a couple of days later and approved us! She was very pleased with how well we’d done with the other tiny one (even though Tiger had rummaged through her bag in search of something yummy!) and said we’d be able to give him a good home.
Back to the RSPCA we went. The boy went to visit the little dog first as I was working and we had to put a reserve on him mega quick! Following that, they wanted us to bring Tiger to meet him to check that they’d get along. We also learnt a bit about his story.
He was 9 years old and had been rescued from a hoarder. The other 4 dogs who had been with him all died before they could be re-homed and the conditions in which they were found had been amongst the worst ever seen by the RSPCA. The house had been so full of stuff that the dogs only had tiny pathways to walk through, no open space and no beds. They went outside to poop but had never been walked or played with. As a result of the lack of exercise, he had no muscle on his legs, meaning that small walks 2 or 3 times a day were necessary.
He had been found severely underweight and had had a cancerous tumour in his jaw so had to undergo an intense operation that included removing all his teeth and bottom jaw, neutering and microchipping as well as having his vaccinations and flea/worming stuff. Phew. I knew he must have been a tough cookie to cope with all that!
We liked the name Bear for him but as he’d lost all his teeth we decided to call him Gummy Bear ❤
We walked the dogs together around the grounds. If you’ve ever walked a dog that’s never been on a walk you’ll understand but if not OH MY GOD. He walked every which way he felt like and had no idea about walking in a straight line and not tangling up his lead! But they got on ok and sort of ignored each other so all was a go-go!
Suddenly the rescue pressured us to take him that day. We weren’t prepared at all but couldn’t leave him (as we would lose the reserve) so home he came! We didn’t have any stuff for him so made a bed out of a blanket and he ate out of one of our bowls.
He bonded very quickly with both of us but more so with the boy. This is Gummy Bear on his first day at his new home, hiding behind my boy.
We got him a new bed, bowl and collar and started taking him on little 10 minute walks to build his muscle. He slept a lot for the first few months; settling in and getting his health back on track.
Soon, we started to see a personality come out and oh my god, what a giant one he had!
We think he had something wrong with his voice box as he didn’t bark properly but made a lot of squeaky, honky sounds.
Tiger and Bear bonded really well. She gave him confidence out on walks, taught him to play and showed him that treats are super yummy!
His health continued to improve and the vet confirmed he was a healthy bear (apart from a slight heart murmur). He also mentioned how much difference a good diet, a nice bed and a friend of the same size can make!
As time went on, Bear got mega floofy! We fed him on a healthy raw food diet with added herbal tablets which are full of vitamins and good for older dogs. His eyes got brighter and were full of sparkles.
Shortly after we got him, we moved to a lovely little house with a garden. He absolutely loved wandering around the garden. He always stuck to the edges (possible as he wasn’t used to open space) and enjoyed basking in the sun.
We celebrated his 10th, 11th and 12th birthdays!
As he hadn’t been used to having a bed, he was very wary of walking on anything soft! But he soon got over that fear and from then on LOVED cushions. This cushion he adopted at my nan’s house. He used to stay there if we went on holiday and every morning she’d come downstairs and find him on his sofa cushion instead of in his bed!
Unfortunately, this year he began to show signs of slowing down and age was getting the better of him. He lost some weight, started waking up in the middle of the night and his fluff lost it’s shiny sheen. He seemed more grumbly and had less patient when being brushed!
A couple of weeks ago he hurt his leg and the pain/shock caused him to have a seizure. It was a pretty bad one and took a toll on his heart and joints. Always the fighter, he did start to recover and was wolfing down his food and painkillers.
He was the same crazy bear but couldn’t walk on his bad leg. This in turn put pressure on his good leg and a week later he fell and dislocated his shoulder.
We were told that recovery would be difficult and that there was a good chance that it could happen again. His heart murmur was now a grade 4 to 5 (grade 6 is the worst) and he could no longer go for walks or put pressure on his front legs.
We felt that this was the right time for him to go to sleep peacefully and so made the hardest decision we’ve ever had to make.
Looking back, I think it was the perfect time. He was still Bear but his old body just couldn’t keep up with his spritely, sparkly character!
We did all we could to give him the perfect retirement home and the chance to be a real dog. I’m pretty sure he loved his time with us and he brought laughter and happiness to so many people. Whenever I was sad or angry, it all seeped away when I would look at his funny gummy face 💝
Sleep tight by bestest Bear, you will be so missed x
I would strongly recommend rescuing a dog if you are in a position to. It’s very rewarding and there are so many dogs that are looking for a fun, happy life!
I put this post in “Health & Wellbeing” as he brought so much happiness and dealing with grief is something we all have to go through. I hope I can inspire people to adopt a dog in need and that they bring happiness and love to their brand new home.
Thanks for reading.