Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Susie's story

Here, in her own words, is a story from the grand old lady of Coombe Leigh - written for my daughter while Susie was still alive. I hope you enjoy it although it isn't really a blog entry, as it's rather out of date, but tells how Susie came to live with us. She was only a scruffy mutt, and had the classic story, beaten, starved and abandoned. We never knew her real age or origins but we loved her just the same. She was with us for 14 years and until she died would always cower in a corner if an argument started, only gradually learned to tolerate a rolled or folded newspaper, and would never pass in front of your feet (waiting for a kick?).

Dear Rosie,

Our Mum has been helping me write my story for a little while now. She said that now I am an old lady I had time to jolly well sit still and think about things instead of running about like a silly Newfie! I know I'm getting on a bit now, I'm not as fast and bouncy as I used to be and Mum said she'd like to have my story to read to remind her about me when I wasn't around any more. I wasn't too sure about that, I was a bit concerned about where she was going to send me. But Mum said not to worry, I'd be fine when I got there and would have lots of doggy friends to play with. So after some consideration I agreed to co-operate.

I remember the last time we went to Gara Rock, before my legs got a bit wobbly and Mum started to worry about me falling off the edge of the cliff. (you humans do fuss; I knew that bramble patch was there when I tripped last time, and it wasn't my fault Mum got scratched rescuing me, I was quite happy lying there waving my legs in the air, brambles make a very soft landing you know).

When we go for a walk I am usually in front while the humans are trailing behind. This is another example of the benefits of four paws over two legs. Mum, Dad and you are the most untidy herd of humans when we go out on walks. I don't think anyone realises how hard I have to work making sure that you all keep together and nobody gets lost. I was lost once and I know how scary that is. Mind you, I was so glad to have escaped from my first humans I didn't notice where I was going or what I was doing. But when I slowed down a bit I realised that I was feeling hungry and tired so I had to rummage in a few bins to find some scraps to eat. Good thing you humans are such an untidy lot. This was OK to start with, but after a while my claws got worn right down and my paws were so sore. So I decided to give myself up and found a Chichester Dog Rescue person to take me in.

Our walks aren't like that though, there are usually lots of really good smells and, to begin with at least, the going won't be too tough. Sometimes if we're going a long way I do get a little concerned that Mum and Dad might not have put enough water in my bottle. All you humans usually keep saying at this point is "Not far now ..." and "Just round the next corner ..."
All I can say is that there are normally an awful lot of next corners to go round before we reach our destination. I thought when I got to the Chichester Dog Rescue kennels that I had reached my destination. All the people there were very kind, but what I really wanted was a family of my own. I'd never had that you see, not what you'd call a real family who would care for me, ruffle my scruffy fur and let me play games with their young. I so wanted to be loved.

I hadn't been at the kennels very long when I heard voices out in the exercise yard. It seemed to be a Mum human and a very small puppy human - that was you!! They sounded very kind, just the sort I thought I might like to adopt. They were sad, they explained to the helpers, as their dog Lucy had just gone to the big kennel in the sky. They had come to find a new dog to take home. The helpers thought they might like this silly puppy - a pleasant enough little thing I remember, but not really suitable for this family. The Mum and puppy humans weren't too sure what to do. I pushed my nose under a hole in the door - they sounded so kind and nice I really wanted them to notice me. I pushed harder and harder - as hard as I possibly could, but I just couldn't squeeze any more of myself out, and I was so afraid that they might leave without spotting that here was a dog who really desperately wanted a home.

Then something amazing happened! I couldn't make out very much as my face was squashed right up against the kennel door, but the little puppy human called Rosie shouted, "Look Mum, it's Lucy!" and they both turned and looked in my direction. It turned out that Lucy was their old dog who had died - she was a Westie - I guess my face does look a little bit Westie-ish - luckily for me! My heart dropped to my paws when the helper said that I wasn't available for adoption as I hadn't been at the Rescue long enough. She got me out though for them to look at and although I must have been a sorry sight with my ragged fur and thin body, Mum ('cos that's who it was) said that she could see I was a dog who needed love so they would take me home and foster me. If no-one came for me (and I already knew they wouldn't) then they would keep me.

Well, I've never wagged so furiously in my entire life. This was a dream come true! They were so kind and nice I knew I had been right to choose them. They put me in their car and off we went to my new home. But I'm getting off the point again. Mum says it's cos I'm getting old. She says I can't concentrate on anything and sometimes she thinks I've lost the plot. I don't think she's quite right about that, after all I manage to concentrate pretty hard on my food bowl at supper time! So that's the story of how I came to live with you, my family. I hope I stay here for ever - I know you can't manage without me now.

Love Susie


Sadly Susie died in 2006 and her ashes are under a rowan tree at the end of the garden in Coombe Leigh. Lots of good memories about her though. Amy was adopted too - and gave me a very tough time at first, but has settled in well now, is loved to bits and loves me back again - one-woman dog(!). Ben, the puppy, - well, just once I wanted a dog with no shadow behind its eyes, one that had only known love and kindness and he was a gift from my husband. Next time .. may it be a long way off yet ,,, but next time we'll be back to adopting again.

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