As I am getting fitter and faster I have had a few near misses with other dogs and need to work on my steering skills. Seamus encourages me to stay positive and to keep trying. “Do not worry about being perfect, just do your best,” says Seamus.
I begin to run and am a bit nervous about losing control on my bends.
Seamus encourages me to be braver and to swing left. His moral support and his love make me dig deep and I manage my first smooth left turn. After a few more spins to the left it gets easier, then I swing right and this feels better still. Seamus continues to guide me and he is smiling proudly now.
“You love helping others so much, have others helped you too?” I ask.
“I know how it feels when you are first in one home and you think that is your life. Suddenly, the people you think are part of your pack abandon you by the road side or take you to a shelter and you feel lost.
Seeing you, how nervous you were in the beginning reminds me of how nervous I used to be. I was afraid of shadows, just like you. There were kind humans who helped me and of course our companions who adopted us.
No one understood me better than the other rescue dogs I met. There was Betsy the Bedlington who taught me how to run, Suzy the lurcher showed me how to play. Alfie, another lurcher, gave me lots of confidence. Then there was Benji the retriever, Molly the collie, Murphy the cross-breed, Penny the kelpie and the greyhounds Romeo, Lexi, Thunder and Whisky. They sound like a string of characters out of a blues poem by Bill Herbert.
There were four animal shelters nearby and most local people adopted from there. In the shelter there are staff and volunteers who give you food, take you for walks and offer the type of loving kindness many rescue dogs have never experienced before. Some dogs cannot cope with a shelter environment, despite all this kindness.
I remember a black lurcher called Danny. He was covered in cigarette burns and had stitches in his leg. His previous companion had thrown him out of a speeding car. The car behind just avoided him and stopped to pick him up and take him to the nearest vet.
At the shelter he kept throwing himself against the walls, bursting his stitches. The vet had to come back several times to re-do them. After the third time he said he may have to put the dog to sleep if he continued to harm himself.
Me and some of the other dogs wanted to reach out to him and sit with him in his kennel but we were not allowed near him.
Staff and volunteers took it in turns to sit with him for hours on end. I remember when, after many hours, he went to lie down next to a volunteer, put his chin on her knee and fell asleep. After that he slept and slept.
He was rehomed in the same town about six months after I had been rehomed. We bumped into each other on the hill. It was so good to see him happy with his new human companions. We played and ran a big circle around the castle.
Our companions and Danny’s companions got on very well and we would often meet up and walk around the castle together. Danny and I were very close.”
I know that rescue dogs recognise other rescue dogs. We recognise the vulnerability exposed by our experiences in life. We connect at the heart-level.
As the sea breeze picks up we bump into a Spanish galgo who is walking her new companion on a slack leather leash. With a slight flick of her tail and a flicker in her eye it is as if we all know each other from some other, faraway place.
I am so grateful for all the humans who have helped me and for everything Seamus and Ruby have taught me.
I am sending much love and support to all the shelter staff and volunteers, all the dogs currently in shelters and to anyone else out there who needs it.