A Letter to Casper

To my dear, sweet Casper,

The couple who bought you actually wanted a baby…I’m not sure what made them decide to get a puppy instead? In a way, I’m not sorry that they chose you because it meant that I got to have you, but not a day goes by without me wishing that you came to me under different circumstances.

Casper the BichonThe couple didn’t know anything about caring for a dog and didn’t mean to cause you so much harm and damage. That said, ignorance is not an excuse and I had to restrain myself from completely losing the rag with them. On the day I first met, you were coughing and thin and extremely wary.  I couldn’t see any toys. Well, there was one toy, a large red ball meant for a much larger breed. It was bigger than you were and made a loud noise as it rolled towards you. You were TERRIFIED. They laughed and said, “He loves to play Hide and Seek with his ball”, but it was clear you were trying to get away.

I asked the couple some probing questions and my heart sank as I began to unravel the sad story of your life so far. From their description, I am pretty sure that you came from a puppy farm, so things weren’t going well for you right from the start. The couple met the “breeder” in a car park and chose you from the several pups he had in the boot of his car.

They took you to their houseshare and you were kept in their bedroom for the majority of the next four months of your life. You were not taken to the vet for a check-up or vaccinations, not even when you started coughing. You were never brought outside. Do you remember the babygrows they made you wear? The ones for human babies? The couple left you alone all day in that bedroom with no toys while they went to college and then on to their evening jobs. I don’t blame you for crying, who wouldn’t in your situation. The other people that lived in the house were not so understanding.

So, it came to this…the couple finally admitted that they were not taking care of you properly. That is what they told me anyway, but I suspect the other housemates had given an ultimatum.

Casper the rescue Bichon wearing his Thundershirt

While they talked, I sat on the floor of their living room wiggling a raggy at you. There was no pressure…I didn’t even look at you. Slowly, I saw you tip-toe towards the raggy. Do you remember the first time you played tug with me? It was that day with that raggy. I guess it was actually the first time you ever got to play properly.

They wouldn’t let me take you with me that day. I saw you try to follow me out the front door and it broke my heart to leave you there.

It took a few days for me to convince the couple to do the right thing. I told them about my dog Pogo and my cat Shelli who would keep you company if I had to leave you. I described all the places that I could take you for walks; the sand dunes at Bull Island, the Dublin Mountains, and many more. I told them all about the training club where you could do agility with me. A few days later, I collected you and took you home.Me and Casper the rescue Bichon

That was two years ago! It took a while to sort out the physical issues. You were riddled with fleas, worms and mites. We fattened you up and got your cough treated. Sadly though, the couple also damaged you psychologically. I have tried so hard to help you but you still suffer with crippling anxiety and fear. I have seen how you completely shut down when you are confronted by something unfamiliar. I know how you suffer from panic attacks at the vets. I know you have a never-ending list of fears: small dogs, big dogs, people with hats, loud noises, people with hoods, people on bikes, old people, people who try to touch you, children, statues, the dark, being left alone, people you don’t know, the pack being separated, men of any kind, swans, heights, new places…etc

I long for the day when you realise that you are safe and I will never let anything hurt you. For now, I will continue to only walk you in places you are familiar with so you don’t have to worry. I will gently rub Rescue Remedy onto your ears when I know you will be faced with a stressful situation. I will bring you to your agility classes and watch your anxiety melt away as you sail over the jumps. I will read book after book and do course upon course until I know exactly how to help you. I will massage you and do TTouch until you learn that it feels good to relax and chill out. I will play tug with you and throw a ball for you to chase until my arms are numb. I will spend the rest of your life doing everything that I can to undo the damage.

My dear, sweet Casper, there is nothing I need from you in return. You have already given me your unconditional love and that is the greatest gift of all.



Casper relaxing at agility!

A Visit to the DSPCA!

I am not joking when I say that we only got ONE glorious day of summer here in Ireland this year!  We decided to make the most of it and went for a drive in the beautiful Irish countryside. Mr Fluffytufts took me for lunch in The Merry Ploughboy, a lovely pub perched high up the Dublin Mountains. The pub is situated very close to the DSPCA shelter, so we thought we’d pop in and see the animals.

The DSPCA is Ireland’s largest animal welfare organisation.  They do amazing work rescuing and caring for animals of many types (both domestic and wild).  A lot of the animals in the shelter have been seized as a result of cruelty, injury or neglect. Once at the shelter, they are taken care of and rehomed/released into the wild, where possible. The DSPCA also work to educate and inform pet owners, and run a mobile clinic for people who cannot afford to bring their pets to the vet.

We enjoyed meeting some of the animals at the shelter.  One of the animals below now lives with us, but more on that in a future post!


DSPCA Permanent Resident

Venus at the DSPCA

DSPCA Agility Dog


DSPCA Duck Drinking

Petting a goat!

Four Dogs, Two Humans and One Trip to the Vet!

We had an interesting evening recently, when we decided to bring our FOUR canines to the vet in the one trip! Poor old Munchy has a recurring cough, which had flared up again, and with her being sixteen years old, you can’t be too careful.  The Lads were all due their vaccinations so we thought we would bring them along too.

I spent the day worrying about how to manage the logistics of bringing all four in at the same time. When Mr Fluffytufts arrived home, we talked through a few scenarios: bringing them in two at a time, one human waiting in the car while the other went in and out to the surgery etc. In the end, we decided to bite the bullet and go for it! All four dogs at the same time!

Vet ClinicAfter all my worrying, things actually went really well. By chance, when we arrived a man and his dog were leaving, so that left only one set of customers in the waiting room. They were a middle-aged couple with a cat and a dog.  Before they saw us, they were sheepishly apologising for have two animals with them. The sight of us with four dogs milling around our ankles stopped them mid-sentence!

Soon, it was our turn. Casper was up first. He has severe anxiety issues and unfortunately, is terrified of the vet. For everyone’s safety, he wore his muzzle. Despite the precaution, I still ended up with a few claw marks as he tried desperately to get away. Unfortunately, the injection was actually the easy part as the kennel cough vaccine is administered by squirting it up the nose. I asked Mr Fluffytufts to go in and hold Casper instead, and amazingly, he calmed right down and barely squirmed at all despite the vet being right in his face. So it will be Mr Fluffytufts’ job to take Casper in in future!

Next, it was Jimmy’s turn. As I lifted him up onto the table, I noticed a tiny tick on the top of his head. Great timing, as the vet kindly removed it for me at no extra charge! The downside is that he must have picked it up in our back garden, so I’ll need to check everyone regularly. Jimmy’s vaccinations were over and done with in the blink of an eye!

That left Munchy and Pogo! Pogo was in his travel box, and Munchy is no trouble at all, so Mr Fluffytufts took the other lads back to the car. Pogo was the most straightforward…out of the carrier, wiggle at the vet, injection done, little yelp, hug from Mammy, squirt up the nose, confused snort, another hug from Mammy and back in the box!

Last, but not least, it was darling Munchy’s turn. The vet listened to her heart and confirmed it is strong and steady considering her age. He said that there is a lot of crackling in the lungs so she is back on her bronchial dialators. He also gave her a course of antibiotics to help clear her lungs quicker. I was delighted to hear that he thought she was in a good way apart from her crackly lungs, so hopefully, she will be with us for a good while longer.

And that was that! Off home we went, with our four dogs and a considerably lighter wallet!

How do your pets react at the vets? Or do you have any vet visiting tips you would like to share?