Thursday, 6 March 2014

Silent House

This is a sentimental post about the three wonderful dogs we have been lucky enough to have in our lives over the last 13 years. Inspired by the unexpected death of our wonderful little Springer Spaniel Mori last Sunday evening.



After all the heartbreak, I thought it would be nice to take a look back at all three and make something positive out of the loss of our most recent rescue dog.

Dillon was our very first Springer Spaniel. A 9yr old ex-army drug sniffer dog, he was a big working liver and white lad with issues! His issues were no fault of his own, sadly his retirement from the army meant he could not stay with his handler and he was found a home by them, which (lets just simply say) became unsuitable for a trained drug sniffer.

The saddest Springer I have ever seen-poor lost and confused lad waiting for a new home

I learnt a lot about dog behaviour from Dillon. His problems were deep. 
Working dogs that retire from such environments can and do suffer with stress and if not handled properly this often leads to issues in some dogs. We had to call in the help of the behaviourist and work through his problems until they were gone.

What a difference a few months make-here he is doing what he loved best-getting wet in the river!

The one sad thing about Dillon was that he was very frightened when we came into the house after work or having been out without him. He would cower in his bed and growl. 
Obviously this needed addressing and quickly, if he was to settle in and finally feel like he had a safe and secure environment.


The answer came to me in the shape of a large orange squeaky plastic toy. When we came in, we said nothing to him, didn't look at him, we just put the squeaky toy on the floor and carried on with our usual things. Dillon soon learnt that this was a toy to be played with and enjoyed (remembering that sniffer dogs are full of fun really) when we came home. 

It was a joy to see (and it still brings a tear to my eye to remember) him running around our feet squeaking this toy for all it was worth and running in and out of rooms and up and down the stairs squeaking all the way! It took all his fear away and in the end he would go over to the shelf where it was stored and point when we came home waiting for it.


There are lots of other things I can recall, like how he pulled me over into a massive puddle in the grass and I surfed along in my waterproofs, like how he pulled my husband over and bruised his ribs, and how when looking for a 4x4 to buy, he drug searched all the vehicles. A great dog in every way, strong, clever, confident and playful.

Harvey was our next Springer. The most gorgeous black and white show Springer I have ever seen. Americans in particular loved him and stopped us quite often to ask about him.
Harvey came to us when his family could no longer keep him-how they gave him up I shall never know. They clearly loved him and were heartbroken to part with him. He was handed over will all his things and an A4 list of all his like and dislikes and a box of biscuits too.

8 years old and just a week or so after we picked him up

Harvey was quite a character, calm and steady, but with such a mischievous streak. He was the perfect dog for me and we really bonded. We went to a road safety dog training class, which was a 14 week course and he was the oldest dog there at 9yrs....we passed of course!

It was always a joy to see this wonderful face coming back to me

He had separation anxiety and never really got over being left alone completely although he didn't destroy anything. He could never let us out of his sight in the house or when we were out. He was distraught at losing his previous family and fretted terribly for them for about two weeks, I don't think he ever forgot that experience.

A very unusual coat

He was very well behaved and a real pleasure to take anywhere, so he went everywhere on holiday with us and he loved the sea and the beach most of all.


One of my lasting memories of him was an episode with the greenhouse-poor dog had obviously never seen one, let alone been in one! The inevitable happened. He was inside the greenhouse with me and he walked through the doorway to get in, but somehow getting out was a real problem, so he just decided to jump straight through the glass panes. I was amazed and shocked, but pleased to report there was not a scratch on him. My beautiful, wonderful, and constant companion.

Mori was our last Springer Spaniel. A small liver and white ex-gun dog who came to us aged 7 and in a bit of a state physically and mentally. He had been a working pedigree gun dog for years, was sold the year before we got him and that's when things went horribly wrong for him.

A sad and skinny Mori

The farmer bought him and hired him out to folks who hadn't got a dog for the shoot. Not taking into account Mori's temperament (which was a little apprehensive of things he didn't know) he soon became gun shy, had some teeth smashed by the butt of a gun (probably because he wouldn't do what he was told out of fear) and after this, since he could no longer work as a gun dog, was left a little neglected in the farm kennels, until they decided to shoot him! 
Fortunately for Mori some ladies said they would take him to Springer Spaniel Rescue instead and the farmer handed him over, records, certificates and all. Thank goodness.

With his big pal next to him, but still red and sad eyes
I'm doing what he's doing...there must be a treat coming!

We picked up this confused and skinny little Springer, who was well behaved but so lost, I just didn't know where to start! Fortunately big strong confident Harvey was there to show him the ropes and he settled in really well.

Getting used to his new master

Looking very young at 7 years old and starting to feel loved

Frisbee time on the beach





He was quite a character, always ready to play and had two switches Off= fast asleep On= 100% awake and ready to burst with energy. He had a very cheeky trick of grabbing any fresh bread out of the shopping bags and running off with loaf in mouth and custard creams could not be left unattended!


Mori was the most loving, happy and playful springer we have ever had the pleasure of looking after and we miss him terribly. Our house is silent without him.


A heartbroken SeagullSuzie and Hubby

26 comments:

  1. Oh dear, you've brought tears to my eyes. I am so, so sorry to read this, but it was a lovely tribute to all three of your wonderful dogs. As you know, Teddy and Poppy are a huge part of our family here and I really do know what you are going through. Sending lots of love at a pretty horrible time for you both x

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    1. Thank you CT. We are beginning to feel a bit better, it was just the shock of it all and having to make a horrible decision. Dogs are such lovely companions.

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  2. Dear Seagull Suzie, I was so sorry to hear of your sad news.My heart goes out to you and your hubby for the sorrow and emptiness you are feeling for loosing your beloved and faithful companion. This is a wonderful post in tribute to your lovely dogs.
    There is such a reward in taking over older rescued animals and giving them a good home and better life but the downside is that you always have them for a shorter time. Thinking of you and sending your a big hug.
    Sarah x

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    1. Thank you Sarah. We always wish we could have had them for longer. It is really tough on us but the dogs have had the best life we could give them, even if it is for too short a time.

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  3. I am so sorry to hear of your loss of Mori, at least you know that the time that he spent with you was happy and loving and far better than it might have been if he had not come to live with you. I am sure that he will be much missed, but fondly remembered. Thank you for sharing his life and pictures with us. Love to all in the Seagull house. xx

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    1. Thank you Amy. Mori was an incredibly happy dog all the time, he made everyone smile and always had a waggy tail, his positive energy was amazing.

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  4. I'm so sorry Suzie. I've felt that pain. Take care of yourself xx

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    1. Many thanks for your kind wishes, we're doing ok, but missing the little fella so much.

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  5. Hello Suzie,

    We have stumbled upon your blog quite by chance but have been totally captivated by your stories of your rescue dogs. Each with such a different background, each with an entirely different temperament but each with a warm and loving heart. You have clearly given them a happy home in which they could thrive. The pictures tell it all.

    And now you have to bear the loss of a well loved pet. That is always such a terrible thing to have to do. But, you can surely look at these images and know in your heart that you have given your best.

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    1. Hello Jane and Lance. Many thanks for your kind wishes and for stopping by the blog. It felt like just the right thing to do, to take a look at all three and remember all the good things about them. It's quite amazing to think we have been caring for these wonderful dogs for over 13 years in total. Before that we had been walkers for the Dogs Trust for about a year and that was a huge amount of fun.

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  6. Although I never knew them, I have tears in my eyes after reading about them. You gave them so much love, and a 2nd chance at life and happiness. Lovely memories, but a sad time for you right now. Do you think you will give another one a 2nd chance?

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    1. Thank you for your kind thoughts. They so deserved a second chance and became wonderful dogs. I would always encourage people to get an older rescue dog, they have so much to give. Yes I'm sure we will, as I cannot imagine us without one.
      We always wait until we feel ready to give another dog a home and we have re-charged our emotional batteries. It's very tempting to rush out and get another one just to fill the emptiness-but it's not right for us.

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  7. Beautiful!
    Julie xxxxxxxxx

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  8. I'm so sorry about Mori. It is heartbreaking to lose a much-loved dog, who is part of the family, after all. You've written a lovely post as tribute to all three dogs; how gorgeous they all were and what a wonderful life you gave them.

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    1. Thank you Wendy. It felt good to do this post, bringing them all together and realising how much they had changed. Dillons 'before and after' was the biggest transformation.

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  9. I'm so so sorry to hear your sad news - my heart goes out to you both. Your post is a lovely and moving tribute to all your beautiful dogs and its so wonderful you were able to give all the rescue dogs such a lovely, happy life. Thinking of you.

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    1. Thank you for your kind thoughts. It's all so quiet without Mori-he was such a live wire. They were all so different in every way and I can still remember the excitement of going to pick each one of them up.

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  10. What lovely memories of your four-legged friends! Hope the memories help to heal the heartbreak. X

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    1. Thank you, they were all great dogs and so different, I still miss them all. It's been a week now and I still expect Mori to come trotting into the kitchen when I'm preparing food.

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  11. I am ever so sorry Suzie, as having many beloved four-legged family members over the years I know how you are feeling, just totally lost without your sweet Mori. I can't help but think though that he really lucked out when he was adopted into your loving home and thank goodness there are people like you who look beyond all the 'issues', for there is always a big canine heart in there ready to be unlocked and loved. Anyhow, just popping in to say I am thinking of you today.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words Denise. I think we saw the most dramatic change in Dillon from that kennel photo to the happy go lucky river loving dog.
      Mori was traumatised and it took a lot of gentle persuasion to get him right. He would jump out of his skin when the toaster popped up, and at anything that sounded like a gun, even the kettle clicking off. If you waved your arms about when getting into your coat he would drop to the floor. So sad to see such lovely dogs in a state, but then it's so rewarding to heal them and worth all the effort.

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  12. A beautifully touching post, the animal members of our families bring so much joy to our lives and losing them is something which always hits home hard. However this is a lovely little remembrance and dedication to your lovely Springer Spaniels and may I pass on my deepest sympathies and regards at what must be a very difficult time.

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    1. Thank you David. I just found his coat in the cupboard and it made me cry (he was about 5kg underweight when we got him so the coat helped conserve some calories). All the happy memories we will help us through this heartache.

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  13. I'm so sorry to hear of your loss, I had tears while reading this. This is a lovely post with lovely memories. My thoughts are with you.

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    1. Thank you very much Gemma. We are still very sad and it's now two weeks ago that it happened. I picked up his ashes yesterday and paid the vet bill...so at least that bit is done.

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