Once upon a Jessie…

I’d say many of you, like me have read or watched “The Little Prince” at some stage in your life . It’s the one with the baobab and the lamb in the box and little rose. Do you remember when the Little Prince met the fox and they became friends? Do you remember when fox spoke those words…the wisest words I’ve ever read on the pages of any book: “YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT YOU TAMED”?

People so proudly claim the earth with all its’ creatures as their own. But somehow they forget to claim the responsibility that goes along with it.

Here at DDR every day we face the  consequences of this attitude. With every single dog coming into our care we are reminded that not all people want the responsibility along with the ownership.

Sometimes the reminder is particularly heart breaking. A reminder like Jessie – a wonderful German shepherd girl, with a terrible case of OCD.  This dog  broke our hearts but  also made us want to fight even harder.

The German Shepard is a breed that was created to work alongside humans; to protect them and help them do their chores.  That makes them a very demanding dog to have.  You can’t just put them in the garden, or lock them in kennels and leave them on their own. You need to exercise them, give them tasks and things to do. They like to be challenged, active and stimulated.  If you don’t provide this for them then there is every chance that this amazing dog will quickly degenerate. They become frustrated and out of this can become a danger (to themselves and those around them).  This is not the dogs’ fault. This is the owners doing, admittedly usually unintentionally, but that it no excuse.

Jessie – out of boredom most probably – found herself a thing to do. She started chasing her tail. Nothing wrong with that you’d think. Well not entirely. You see, Jessie couldn’t stop. She would go after her tail and try to bite it no matter what and who was in her way, quite often hurting herself in the process.

Snapping her out of this state was an almost impossible task but we were not ready to give up on her. In particular one of our volunteers Julia was not ready or willing to give up on her. Jessie made a paw print on Julia’s heart the first moment they met. Julia went above and beyond, giving up her free time (she has two dogs of her own) to go  as often as possible to the kennels, fitting into very restricted time-frames (normally volunteers do not have access to the kennels during weekdays) to make sure that Jessie got to walk every day.  Julia was determined to get the OCD under control.

With lots of love, time, trick and treats Julia worked a miracle. Jessie started being more and more interested in the world around her. She would still have the fits, but they started to be more just an occurrence than a habit.


Hug time with Julia
Jessies toy of choice – plastic bottle

In the background our amazing team, together with our friends from Heathland Animal Sanctuary worked on finding an experienced handler to foster Jessie and prepare her to go to her forever home.

Recently we received an update on Jessie…needless to say there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.  Have a look for yourself:

She still has a long way to go, but this time it looks like a happy ending is possible. A lot of hard work, time and money went into turning Jessie’s life around. We dread to think of the dogs who aren’t  as lucky as Jessie, those who don’t have a Rescue to stand up for them, believe in them, help them.

Jessie with her foster dad

If you’d like to help us, but can’t do it in any of the usual ways, please be the voice of our dogs. Be the responsible dog owner and talk about responsible dog ownership. Tell people not only about the cuddles and happy days but tell them about the early morning wake up calls, the chewed shoes,  chairs and pillows, talk about cleaning up after your dog, the daily walks even when it’s wet and cold , the training sessions when you are tired after a long day in work. Why? Because all of this is what’s involved in being a responsible owner of a healthy, balanced dog . If it means that even one person thinks twice before getting that cute fluffy puppy, that puppy that will grow into a neglected, frustrated unbalanced dog, then you have made a difference – you are a hero! You have saved a dog!