Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Scooby, I am four years old and I was born in Valencia, Spain. I am what is called a ‘random’ dog; you can also use the phrases ‘crossbreed’ or ‘mongrel’ but I prefer random because it suits my personality. With regard to my parentage, rumour has it that a flat-coated retriever and a German shepherd dog may have been involved but hey – who really knows? Let’s face it – I am one handsome dog.
For the first three years of my life I was a Spanish dog; I poohed over low white walls, had no need of stairs and chased feral cats to my heart’s content. That’s how we did things over there. My Spanish Mum taught me how to sit, stay, fetch, lie down and use my paw to make requests. She also made sure that I had a pet passport and all my jabs were up to date. I believe that she loved me very much.
In 2011 I came to England. I don’t remember why. It was cold though and I got into trouble over a neighbour’s cat. You have to bear in mind that I was used to cats being vermin – like rats and pigeons and squirrels – there are kind people in Spain who try to look after the feral cats but there are so many that most people see them as a nuisance and don’t make a fuss if you remove one or two.
There was most certainly a fuss once I got to England. I was no longer a buen perro for doing what came naturally to me. I was the terminator dog. I was in deep trouble. Then I got out again. Another cat bit the dust. My Spanish Mum could no longer cope with my Spanish ways and she signed me over to the RSPCA.
That was eighteen months ago.
My picture was on the website; a nice man did a video of me running around and playing with a ball, and I became very popular with the RSPCA staff and volunteers. People came to see me and said how handsome I was – especially when I grinned or cocked my head to one side. But other dogs came and other dogs went; as soon as people knew about my little problem with cats they turned away. Many of them had cats of their own, or other pets that they thought I might take a fancy to. I was an unknown quantity and people – quite understandably – were not prepared to take the risk.
There was a boy – well almost a man – who wanted a dog. He loved animals and grew up in a house full of cats. His Mum promised him that when all the cats had finally made their way to moggy heaven, they would look into having a dog. She told him to check the RSPCA web pages but not to fall in love too soon because they had to go on holiday first. She also told him to put his laptop to some good use and do some research on what it meant to be a responsible dog owner instead of playing games where humans killed other humans.
His Mum spotted me on the web pages and pointed me out to the Boy and to his Dad. His Mum liked my big brown eyes and the way my ears flopped over. She could see that I had been at the kennels a long time and that I desperately needed a home of my own. She told the Boy that if I was still there when they came back from holiday, they would come and visit me.
Right from the start the staff were very honest about my cat issue; from the very first phone call the Mum made, she knew what they were taking on but she and the Boy had fallen for my charms already (they had to work on the Dad a bit because he had never owned a dog before).
They came to visit me on the Mum’s birthday and took me for a walk in the wood outside the kennels. I pulled a bit. Well quite a lot actually but they persevered and by the time they brought me back to the kennels it was a done deal. A deposit was paid and before they had even left a yellow sign with ‘Home check’ was put up outside my kennel. Somebody wanted me at last.
They came again the next day; the Boy was in charge because he was to be my new master – aided and abetted by his Mum and Dad. I recognised them, and as a consequence began to show off my talents a little. I still pulled but they were impressed by the way I responded to basic commands (and the dog treats they bought me).
Each time they visited we got to know each other better and I began to love the Boy. He hugged me and praised me – well all three of them did – but his actions were the most important. I stopped barking when I saw them enter the car park and wagged my tail in ecstasy instead. Kind people cared for me and hoped that one day I would find the right family, and they had their fingers crossed.
One of the visits included a walk to a car; the Mum was worried about whether I would be nervous about cars as I’d been in kennels for so long. Ha! I jumped up onto the tailgate, sat down on the blanket and gave my famous grin.
‘Take me home now please?’
Unknown to me, the Mum and the Dad were doing things to make their house a safe haven where I couldn’t get out and chase the local cats. They put trellis on top of the fence panels so I wouldn’t be able to climb over. They found a dog-owning fence and gate maker who mended their old gate and made a special new one so that I wouldn’t get out of the back garden. They had loved their own cats and didn’t want to put temptation in my way.
They passed the home check and once the gates and trellis had been put up it was agreed that I could come home.
By this time I had my own lead, half-check collar and a harness which the Boy bought with him whenever they came to take me out. He always had his Mum or his Dad with him when we walked but on this day he took me out alone.
When we got back to the kennels he didn’t hand me back the way he used to. His Mum and Dad appeared from the office and they were both smiling. The Boy was smiling. They lifted up the tailgate and as the Boy strapped my harness to the safety belt, I smiled too.
We went home. Mi casa.
To be continued.