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Josie & Maggie

josie maggie storyIn 2017, we were looking for a companion for Eric, our Italian Spinone, as we had lost our German Wirehair, Archie, at the end of 2016. Eric was 12 years old, and still quite active. We searched some dog rescue sites, but without success.

After months of fruitless searching, someone who had a Romanian rescue dog (not Amicii) suggested we look on the Pets4Homes website, which we did, and found Amicii Dog Rescue. We saw Josie on the site, and applied to adopt her, subject to seeing her and meeting Eric. At the time she was fostered by Lesley Baker, and we went to see her in September. She was a lovely dog, with a placid temperament and had the most appealing eyes. So, we adopted Josie on October 5th, and took her home where she was at first wary of Eric. But unfortunately, Eric suddenly became ill, and we had to have him put to sleep the next day.

Although Josie was a little withdrawn and shy at first, she seemed to be happy. She met new doggy friends in nearby Warley Woods, and gradually became more confident. She didn’t play with other dogs, but just stood and watched as they ran around. It was a standing joke that Josie got tired from watching the others!

Lesley visited us in December, and noticed the change in her straightaway. We now looked for another dog as company for Josie, but with no luck, so during 2018, we decided to try fostering dogs for Amicii, and were asked to foster Jodie.

In November 2018, we picked up Jodie from kennels near Worcester. She was 5 months old, very timid and frightened, but soon began looking more confident, and within a few days was ruling the roost! She came on walks with Josie in Warley Woods, and met many of Josie’s doggy friends. She was settling well, and was adopted by a young couple just before Christmas. The house was empty without her. Her owners renamed her Pixie, and we have met again a few times on Amicii walks, and they have also visited us.

Had Jodie not been adopted, we would probably have adopted her ourselves, she was such a lovely dog. But then we spotted Maggie on the Amicii website. Maggie was fostered by Ann Pursey, and had a deformed front leg due to a dislocated elbow joint that had not been corrected. The leg was due to be amputated, but she underwent a course of hydrotherapy instead which strengthened her leg, and the elbow joint stabilised.

We went to Kempsey to meet Maggie just before Christmas 2018. We liked her, and she got on well with Josie, so we decided to adopt her. Ann brought her to us on New Years day, and she settled in well, although relations with our cats were rather fraught! She is very energetic and active despite her injury, and runs around as fast as most dogs in the Woods. She underwent another course of hydrotherapy at Bluewaters, and now her limp is only noticeable when she walks slowly – which isn’t very often! We continued hydrotherapy throughout the year, with a session every 6 weeks or couple of months, and she has her final session in December. Throughout the summer, Maggie has accompanied us to our allotment, and enjoys just lying on the grass by our bench watching and listening to everything going on.

She is also in behavioural training because of a tendency to leap at people (not dogs), and her behaviour has improved. Strangely, this is not a problem off the lead, but you can’t be too careful! She is poor on recall, but thankfully this is also improving.

Now Maggie knows us better, she is a sweet and affectionate dog, but one who knows her own mind! Maggie and Josie are very good together, and Maggie plays quite roughly with Josie, which has made Josie more proactive with other dogs. She also shows some dominance behaviour with Josie, which Josie seems to take in her stride. Fortunately, this does not extend to other dogs, and Maggie and Josie are now lifelong pals, well known and admired in our dog-walking community.

Throughout the adoption process for Josie and Maggie, Amicii have been so helpful, and we have met some lovely people. But best of all – we have two wonderful dogs!

Meg & Elka

meg in story minMeg came into our lives over 4 years ago now when she was only 11 months old and what a 4 years it’s been. We had been looking for our first dog together as we had both grown up with rescue dogs and had been really feeling a big gap in our lives. We love walking and hiking in the Peaks so having a furry companion to join us on these adventures made so much sense. From the moment we saw her we knew she was the one for us, we got ‘that feeling’ immediately. Amazingly she was being fostered only 5 miles down the road from us!

I remember the excitement of waiting to pick her up so clearly, we had all her toys, bed, bowls and treats all ready. She settled in from the moment she got home, I mean really settled in! She pretty much had sussed out within a few seconds of being through the door where the sofa, bed and any other remotely comfortable spot was and has made them her own ever since. She will also do this in any other house she enters (even ones she isn’t supposed to have entered!). To say she lives for comfort and relaxation would be an understatement. It has always amazed us how she would have survived on the rubbish tip in Romania where she was found. She is one intelligent, stubborn and chilled out girl, we always say she travels at ‘Meg speed’. She is an absolute character who has brought the most love, joy and hilarity into our lives.

When I see her so at ease, running through puddles and racing around fields with her best friend Elka (another Romanian Rescue) it never fails to make me feel so happy and grateful she made it safely to us. It is the most rewarding feeling in the world seeing how she has developed since she has settled with us and how much more expressive she is with her love and affection and is completely loyal to her pack. We are forever grateful to the whole Amicii team for bringing her into our lives.

Not a day goes by where she doesn’t get told by people fussing her on walks “Who’s a lovely old boy?” I tell her not to listen she’s young beautiful lady and all the best girls have beards.

Siri

siri story picWhen I first met Siri in September 2017, he had been in the UK for just two days. He had been placed at the Halfway Home kennels near Lincoln. I had recently been through a bad breakup (although the thing I missed most about my relationship was my ex’s dog!) As a result, I went down to the kennels to see if I could help out by walking some dogs and therefore get my doggy fix!

The first and only dog I walked that day was Siri. The moment they brought this sweet, gentle boy out to me and we wandered round the nearby fields together, I realised I couldn’t leave him there! So I signed the adoption paperwork and I collected him the next day. It’s been me and him ever since!

I didn’t really know what to expect with a Romanian Rescue. I anticipated a long settling in period, I expected him to not be fully house-trained, and to lack training in other areas too. How wrong I was! Siri slept through the night in his own bed from the start, rarely barks, never chewed anything, has never messed in the house (except once when poorly) and has always behaved himself when it really matters. He loves chasing squirrels and cats, and spends lazy days following the sun around the garden.

He’s come out of his shell so much since those early days - he’s a real independent character and everyone who meets him, falls in love, just like I did.

What has been invaluable throughout has been the support offered by Amicii; even though I didn’t get Siri directly from them - the staff at Halfway Home gave me the Facebook details and I was able to join the Amicii community. When I’ve had any issues or queries because I’m a first time dog owner and it can sometimes be daunting, I’ve been able to reach out and get advice from more experienced owners and Amicii staff. This has meant I’m a far more confident dog owner than I would’ve been otherwise. It’s nice to know I’ve got that backup.

Thank you Amicii for bringing this brilliant little man into my life, I don’t know where I’d be without him.

 

Sasha

sasha story pic minWe had been searching for the right dog for us for months. We wanted a rescue and we knew we wanted a German Shepherd. We searched and searched but we could not find the dog for us. I was scrolling through Facebook one night pretty disappointed we had not been able to find the perfect dog for us and ready to give up. Then I came across the Amicii Facebook page . I had never heard of the charity before, but after doing some reading I knew we had to get an Amicii dog. We could see from the pictures and posts just how much the volunteers cared for the dogs. 

After scrolling we saw some adverts for a beautiful German Shepherd called Tara. We knew from the very first photo we saw that she would become part of our little family so we put in the application. Kelly from Amicii phoned me and gave me all the information we needed to know and we arranged to meet Tara. It felt like the longest wait in the world and we kept saying we know we love her already.

As soon as we met her we saw what an amazing girl she is and organised to pick her up the following week. When we picked up Tara as she was called then, we were given her medication for her hip and told what we could do to keep her hip healthy.

As soon as she walked through the front door she made herself at home, finding every tennis ball we had!  She had cuddles on the sofa and watched some TV, thoroughly enjoying her new life. Sasha has a huge supply of tennis balls and loves to go for 2 hours exercise every day. She is now looking forward to her first seaside holiday in September! 

 

Willow

willow story pic minWillow was a pup (born Jan 2017 - now 3 years old) when she was taken into care at Amicii and was brought to the UK to Manchester Dogs Home. Willow unfortunately had two homes before us, with people not giving her long enough to settle. The first family had children and two small dogs and she was returned to the shelter 3 weeks later. She's now really not good with kids and used to be incredibly triggered by dogs on walks so we can only imagine what happened there. She's much better with dogs now, but she's still not good with kids, especially as there are no kids in our family for her to get used to.

The second home she was in worked incredibly long hours and she was on her own in a flat all day. She was then, again, returned 3 weeks later. So on top of the previous issues, she also struggled with severe separation anxiety and loneliness. She was not independent at all! 

People often blame the shelter for not doing appropriate background checks on the potential guardians, but unfortunately Manchester dogs home, only a few years prior, had suffered a catastrophic fire on site and as they're a charity, are probably still relying on donations to provide such services like in depth home checks. 

However, Willow has now been with us for 18 months and she is the love of our life. She's absolutely been a challenge, a LOT of sleepless nights and tears, four different behaviourists (which all turned out a waste of time because what's ultimately helped were our own ideas and instincts). 

We've now found a lifestyle and routine that works for us and we've even welcomed a second Romanian Street Dog into our home. Lupin is from a different shelter and charity but is the chilled out, older, polar opposite to Willow and she's learning a lot from him. 

Willow has gone from pulling up onto her back legs on the lead to walking with a loose lead at my side (we can deal with the occasional pull - she's part lurcher after all - she's FAST). She's gone from freezing and lying down when she sees a dog to having a quick look and moving on, and now even LIVING with another dog. She's gone from no training at all to being brilliant at obedience. She's gone from not being able to be alone whilst we go to the toilet to being alone for nearly four hours without howling and barking. We're so proud of her. 

One piece of honest advice I would give to anyone thinking about adopting a rescue dog, is that if your mental health (and physical health to a certain extent) is anything less than perfect, you will have a MUCH harder job. I feel a sense of responsibility in saying this because I had a lot of hospital stuff going on in Willow's first year with us and I notice now that any time my mental health takes a dip, even if just for one day which is all it tends to be these days, she notices and reverts back to her own anxieties. 

Adopting a rescue dog isn't just a nice idea that will make you look like a nice person to all your friends. It's a complete change to every aspect of your life. And like the two people who had Willow before us, the decision to adopt should not be taken lightly. We don't have our own children, but 90% of people I know who've had both dogs and children say that the dogs were harder work. You can do more things with your kids than with your dogs. Kids can eventually learn to communicate with you. Dogs can't. You can explain why you're asking a child to do something but you can't with a dog. A kid isn't a solid block of muscle full of teeth (well, kind of). 

However, if you stick it out and you have the time, UNWAVERING determination and support around you, being the guardian of a rescue dog is the most deeply, spiritually, pure experience. It is the best thing a soul could ask for. Dogs are unlike anything you will ever experience, and dogs that have a difficult past are even more so. 

We aren't a couple who own two dogs, we're a family of four. 

Amy and Jim, Manchester, Guardians of Willow (Skye) and Lupin. 

 

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