Being out in the countryside with my dogs gives me time to think. I’ve learnt the pleasure of solitude without being lonely, and that’s a good feeling for me.

Welcome to "Man with two dogs" - the family website for dog owners and dog walkers.

This is my countryside diary which appears each Saturday in the Dundee Courier newspaper.

Help for man’s best friend

December 30th, 2017

012006I HAD to fight my way through a proper bourach of wriggling, tail-wagging dogs to meet Carol Begg, founder and rescue coordinator of Perthshire Gundog Rescue.

The organisation grew out of a dog day-care boarding service but for the past twelve years Carol has worked with and rehomed gundogs and gundog breed dogs. Perthshire Gundog Rescue (PRG) recently relocated to Rescobie Manse, overlooking Rescobie Loch near Forfar, and since earlier this year has been a registered Scottish charity.

In common with other dog rescue charities PRG also takes in unwanted dogs and dogs that have been victims of cruelty. Carol assesses them and works with them to resolve any issues and finds suitable homes for them having assessed, in turn, all prospective adopting owners.

Her approach is unconventional – dogs taken in by her for assessment live in the house with Carol. Her practical view is that you can’t assess the whole dog and its problems if it is outside in a kennel. They live alongside Carol’s own dogs for, as she says, a dog is a dog’s best teacher.

Gundog breeds and their owners are as susceptible to crises and life changing circumstances as any others. Situations arise where an owner can no longer cope with a dog due to health problems, job loss, personality conflicts. PRG offers hands-on help and support, working with these owners to help them keep their dogs wherever possible.

Carol’s advice is never to suffer alone as that is when irrational decisions are made that are later regretted. A confidential emergency helpline is available for dog owners and their dogs who need a supportive word or shoulder to lean on. From March she is offering a B&B service at Rescobie Manse – which I suspect is unique in the dog rescue world – so that she can work with owners and dogs together.

Food banks for people are much in the news but, knowing that old people in particular will feed their dog before themselves, Perthshire Gundog Rescue operates a food bank for dogs – again, an unusual service I haven’t heard of before. The philosophy is simple – dog owners’ wellbeing is as important as their dogs’, otherwise at some point the dogs will begin to suffer.

Two large, dog-savvy cats rule the kitchen. They too are part of the PRG philosophy – cat-hating dogs soon learn from dog-savvy cats.

I spent a most instructive morning at Rescobie. Dogs have been part of my life all of my life and relationships with at least one were rocky. I learnt that more problems arise from human behaviour than dogs’ behaviour. When I thought about it I realised that our dogs are almost entirely dependent on us and mostly they just want us to like them as much as they want to like us.

Log onto perthdogrescue.com to learn more about the interesting work of this new dog charity and how you can help with volunteering or fundraising.

Foreign aid
At this season of goodwill towards men it would be good to think that goodwill extends in equal measure to all animals too. But, sadly, the world is not like that, either to men or to animals.

Lola is as mysterious as her name suggests – her age and her ancestry are indeterminate. She came to Scotland from Romania a month ago, a rescue puppy, found on a rubbish dump and taken into care by the charity, Barking Mad Dog Rescue Romania.

She has been adopted by David, Bursar of The Burn House, Edzell, and Sarah Turner who were won over by her appealing face on the charity’s website. The story of animal welfare, especially dogs, in Romania is quite disturbing.

In the 1980s, in an effort to industrialise the country, Communist dictator Ceausescu, in a process akin to the Highland Clearances, forced the rural communities away from the country and into crowded city tenements. They were obliged to abandon their dogs resulting in an epidemic of unchecked breeding of semi-feral strays.

The dogs found their way to the cities in search of food and a state sanctioned policy of humanely destroying the strays was introduced, which has not been a success.
The Barking Mad Dog rescuers provide food, vet care and support to three shelters in Romania and work with adopters and foster carers throughout the UK. Twice monthly they bring dogs for rehoming into this country, taking them as far north as Wick.
Lola is settling into her new home well. She is clearly most affectionate and appreciative of her new, secure surroundings and the care given her by her new family.
Visit barkingmaddogrescue.co.uk and click on Why Romania to learn more about the charity’s work.

Written on Saturday, December 30th, 2017 at 1:00 pm for Weekly.