GIVE A DOG A HOME

Lancashire Life - - Promotion - WORDS AND PHO­TO­GRAPHS: Emily Roth­ery

Aban­doned dogs from across Europe have

found a happy home in Keswick

Mar­i­lyn Grant is al­ways will­ing to con­sider the sad­dest res­cue dog cases that most peo­ple over­look and has ded­i­cated the last eight years of her life to giv­ing needy dogs a happy end­ing to their lives or a fresh start in a lov­ing home.

‘It all started when my hus­band Fraser died; I needed some­thing to get up in the morn­ing for and I wanted to do some­thing use­ful. It’s so re­ward­ing when you see a ne­glected or un­happy dog start­ing to come out of the other side. Peo­ple say Fraser would be proud of me, but I think if he is look­ing down on me, he would think I’m ab­so­lutely nuts,’ laughs Mar­i­lyn, who is known as Min.

Min adopts dogs from abroad and this coun­try and is now of­ten ap­proached to take on spe­cific dogs from res­cue cen­tres. She ap­proaches ev­ery­thing she does with care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion only tak­ing on dogs she knows will fit in with her pack. She has a set rou­tine to set­tle the dogs in when they first come to her and plans feed­ing and ex­er­cise regimes care­fully.

When I meet Min, she is ex­er­cis­ing her pack at the Hairy Hounds Ho­tel near Threlkeld, where she reg­u­larly hires a pad­dock. As Min tells me the names of her four-legged friends I be­gin to spot a theme. Bailey, Stella, Glayva, Rolo, Trea­cle, Hofmeis­ter and Breezer bound hap­pily around the field and their in­di­vid­ual per­son­al­i­ties be­gin to emerge as they play to­gether.

The res­cue dogs all look healthy, happy and alert – a far cry from the con­di­tion they were in when Min first met them. ‘For ex­am­ple, Trea­cle, the lit­tle Lab/ dachshund cross came from Cyprus. She had been placed in a pub­lic shel­ter which meant she would have been put down af­ter seven days if she wasn’t re­homed. Black dogs are re­garded as un­lucky in Cyprus and as she is old, she didn’t re­ally have a good chance.’

Vac­ci­na­tions, pet pass­port and travel ar­range­ments were done through a Bri­tish charity en­abling Trea­cle to em­bark to her new life. ‘I went to col­lect her from the air­port. She was ter­ri­fied, with eyes like din­ner

plates and was de­ter­mined to es­cape. She didn’t eat for a few days, but I grad­u­ally earned her trust. She didn’t know me, so I had to make her feel safe through be­ing per­sis­tent and pa­tient. She was hard work, but I didn’t give up on her and she’s such a good girl now,’ says Min.

‘Breezer also came from Cyprus. He was found in a plas­tic box with a lid on out­side the pub­lic shel­ter in 36 de­grees heat. He was with his sib­ling, but sadly his sib­ling was dead. Breezer needed in­tra­venous flu­ids to get him through and he just made it. When I got him, he was run­ning with fleas, so I got him straight in to the shower and sprayed him, the house and the van be­fore set­tling him in.’

Min has the same rou­tine for each new dog. She takes them home to an empty house, show­ers them wear­ing wellies as pro­tec­tion and a muz­zle for the dog, if needed. They are then given a lit­tle bit to eat and drink and Min will stay with them all night be­fore in­tro­duc­ing them to the other dogs on neu­tral ter­ri­tory the next day.

All of Min’s res­cue dogs have their own needs. Rolo, the aptly named milk-cho­co­late Labrador, was an un­wanted Christ­mas puppy. He had been kept in a gar­den and only on ar­riv­ing home did Min re­alise that he needed house train­ing and bootees for his paws which blis­tered when he walked on any sur­face other than grass.

‘Hofmeis­ter, an­other cho­co­late Lab, came from East Mid­lands Labrador Res­cue Cen­tre. He was vastly over­weight and needed to lose weight be­fore be­ing op­er­ated on for a tu­mour on his chest. He hardly had any hair and he ab­so­lutely stank, but he was so sweet. I man­aged to re­duce his weight from 42 to 29kg and so the tu­mour could be re­moved. He will al­ways have bad ears and bad skin which he will need treat­ment for. He’s just a big itchy scratchy old dog,’ she says with ob­vi­ous af­fec­tion.

‘I love all of my dogs, equally but dif­fer­ently. I like to say that I have an empty bank bal­ance and a full heart,’ smiles Min. ‘Food and vets bills aren’t cheap, but I live very sim­ply and save money when I can. I get food at dis­count from the Healthy Pet nat­u­rals. I also make a lot of the food and The Oddfel­lows pub in town give me off cuts of meat.’

Keswick, which has been voted the UK’S most dog friendly town no less than four times, is an ideal place for Min and her ca­nine com­pan­ions to live. ‘I live between La­trigg Fell and the park and like to have a good walk first thing but never take all of the dogs out at one time.

I’m aware that not ev­ery­one is as crazy about dogs as I am! Most days I will also walk into town but take just one dog. I like to pop into the pub for a pint and while the dog gets at­ten­tion, a treat of bark burg­ers and crisps, I can en­joy some much-needed adult con­ver­sa­tion!’

Look­ing af­ter the dogs is a full -time job and wasn’t quite how Min had planned her life. She was a Met Po­lice of­fi­cer for 15 years be­fore be­ing med­i­cally re­tired when she was di­ag­nosed with can­cer. ‘It was my dream job and I ended up on armed pro­tec­tion at Down­ing Street. How­ever, I’ve been in re­mis­sion for 13 years now and proud to do res­cue work in mem­ory of my hus­band.’

Bark burg­ers are treats for dogs of­ten found in dog friendly pubs. Monies raised from do­na­tions go to dog res­cue or­gan­i­sa­tions across the UK, do­gres­cue­foun­da­tion.org.

Min with Hoffmeis­ter, Bailey, Rolo and Breezer

Stella

Trea­cle

RIGHT: Glayva and Bailey

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