Continuing our series on our team’s experience with rescuing our dogs, this week Shona will be talking about Finlay, who you may recognise as he is featured a lot on our posters and other materials! And of course come back next month for the next blog in this series, when Dog Initiatives Support Officer Jo will talk about her and Shamans slightly unconventional rescue story. Remember we would love to hear your experiences too so please share your rescue dogs stories with us on social media:
How did Finlay join your family?
While I was at University studying Animal Behaviour, a group of us would go and volunteer at a local independent rescue centre. We would socialise, walk and even train the dogs there to get them more ready for rehoming and help the centre get a better idea of their needs and personality so they could place them better. I met so many wonderful dogs and they all deserved the best homes, but I knew Finlay was different straight away. He was around 6 months old, but he was a tiny scrap of a thing who didn’t even have a rescue name yet – just black mongrel 3 – and had been brought in by the dog warden after being found wandering on the streets a few towns over in Newark. I spent a couple of hours with him that day and I knew it was meant to be. He met our family dog, Molly, and my mum a week later, and we adopted him soon after.
How did he settle in?
Finn was very poorly for quite a while so the next year or so was full of vets visits, medication and very boring food for poor Finn. He also moved a bit between my parents home and my house at Uni as I had decided to stay for a post-grad course, which was very exciting as there was lots of new people to meet and places to sniff! He and Molly were the best of friends and he looked after her as she started to decline in the coming years.
Finn started off quite nervous of new people and dogs, and being poorly meant we didn’t get to do as much socialisation as we would have liked. Studying animal behaviour helped me put an action plan into place and I am very lucky that my family were so great with him and worked so hard to get him past these issues. It has taken us all a lot of time and effort, but he is at a point now where he is like a different dog and has lots of wonderful human and doggy friends, including Conrad who he loves! He is a social butterfly and loves a party so long as all the people let him say hello in his own time, after which he is everyone’s best friend and loves bringing out his toys to show off.
His favourite things are a cuddle on sofa, his ball (unicorn ball is the best because it’s spiky and only comes out on special occasions) and most of all he loves his family so he’s most happy when we’re all together.
What are your top tips?
When considering getting any dog, of course it is important to think about your lifestyle and what doggy traits will suit your situation, but I also really recommend not going in with too many expectations. All dogs have their own personality and I think lots of people are disappointed when their dog doesn’t meet the exact specifications they set up in their head. Part of the joy of getting a dog is seeing them develop into their own “person” whether that’s a puppy growing up or a rescue dog coming out of their shell.
Safe spaces and choice: I am a big advocate for letting dogs have some choice over their lives, especially rescue dogs who might have had lots of scary things happen to them. Creating safe spaces and giving them some times when they get to choose – such as what to stop and sniff on their walk – builds their confidence and gives them something they can control when life is overwhelming.
Come back for next month’s blog, in which Jo will talk about her gentle giant Shaman. If you missed the first part in this series you can find it here: Conrad, Fergus and Alice and please have a browse of our other blogs on a range of doggy topics, from wildlife aware walks to brain games.