My wife Ann and I decided it was the right time to introduce a dog into our home. I had had experience with dogs in my family during my childhood, including close friends who were puppy walkers with the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association and I had been a puppy walker in the past and a volunteer for the RSPCA as an adoption visitor.
It was an easy decision to choose to adopt a rescue dog, firstly trying the Dogs Trust at Shoreham and then the RSPCA in Brighton. However, we couldn’t find quite what we were looking for as having two school age children we were after a ‘cheeky terrier’ that would enjoy walks on the Downs or the beach and play happily with the kids in the garden.
An internet search revealed Sussex Pet Rescue and after a couple of ‘phone calls and a visit from Jan, we were on the list. Within days Jan called to suggest ‘a lovely little Jack Russell cross’. He had apparently been well treated during his first year as a puppy but the couple that owned him did so without the consent of their landlord and against his policy. Sadly he had to be re-homed and went into an SPR foster home in Lancing. We visited the foster home and were greeted at the door by a lovely gentleman and the cutest faced, shiny eyed, little black glossy coated pooch we had ever seen. ‘Cheeky’ was written all over him as he trotted up and down the hallway with his tail, undocked and curling over his back ‘husky style’, wagged excitedly. We were smitten and asked if we could take him home with us as the home check had been carried out.
By the next day we had experienced licks, cuddles, every room in the house being inspected twice over, mad dashes around the garden and a brief introduction to the cat who looked at us as if we had committed high treason! For the next 16 years our hearts and lives were ruled by our lovely “Charlie Boy”. Our children, including the older married ones, often were indignant that Ann loved him more than anything in her whole life. This included me, my saving grace being that Ann credited me with him being “the most wonderful present anyone had ever given her.”
We even decided that holidays abroad would stop and purchased a touring caravan so that he could come along wherever we went. He climbed Snowdon twice, walked for miles over numerous footpaths over the Downs, the New Forest, Wales, Devon and half the country! Despite his mischievous ways, he brought more love into our lives than we could ever have imagined.
As “Charlie Boy” aged his bright shiny eyes became hazy, his fur became grey and also his hearing faded so that sometimes he didn’t realise that we had been out and we would find him fast asleep on his cushion. Despite being attacked by a large dog and having both cruciate ligaments go in his back legs, Acorn Veterinary Surgery and a local orthopaedic surgeon kept him fit and healthy until July 2016.
Sadly one morning, without any previous hint of a problem, we woke to find “Charlie Boy” confused, shaking and not wanting to eat. We rushed him to Acorn where Vet Sandy diagnosed acute kidney failure. The only faint hope was to flush his system through in order to see if he improved. We took him home that evening but I felt that the vet was not very optimistic about his condition. Heartbreakingly we faced the inevitable the next morning as there was no improvement so Sandy came to our house so that “Charlie” could stay on his beloved cushion on the settee in the sitting room. Ann and I gave him his last kiss, told him he was a good boy and stroked him as he fell asleep.
We have never felt pain like it but I would do it all over again. He had given us so many memories and we were able to give him as much love as he had given us. We still miss him terribly.
A very big ‘thank you’ to SPR for introducing us to our “Charlie Boy”. Many phrases and memories of dogs long gone and poems of love and praise for those still living can be found but the one that really caught my heart was “A dog will give you some of the best days of your whole life … and one of the saddest”. But it is worth it as it’s all about love and nothing else will quite bring as much unconditional love into your life as giving a rescue dog a home.
Barrie and Ann Turner