Friday 3rd July: Carla’s story

A large part of my time these days is taken up with administration, meetings, paperwork and so on, the nuts and bolts of HKDR rather than the soft upholstery (the dogs).  The search for a new kennel site, upcoming events, advertising, projects, they are all a necessary – vital, in fact – part of the organisation, but my heart really lies in the actual dog work. 

Reynard the fox terrier

Reynard the fox terrier

 Watching Luca and his transformation from a sad and rather aggressive little dog into the happy boy who now plays all day with his new best friend, Cosmo, is what it’s all about for me.  Now Reynard, a very sweet but emotionally stunted fox terrier, has joined the office gang.  He’s still a young dog, but before coming to us he was almost certainly living in a cage, probably left alone for long hours, isolated, with nothing to stimulate his mind or his body.  We’ve already seen  physical improvements, but Reynard still needs to learn how to play and to be a dog, not a prisoner.  Locking dogs in cages as puppies is not only physically damaging, but also mentally.  Reynard’s only form of amusement when he first arrived was to roll in his own poo, not an appealing habit but one that almost certainly developed as a result of frustration and boredom, and being locked in a small space which forced him to eat and sleep with his own mess.  He didn’t know how to go for walks, never having experienced anything more than the tiny confines of his cage. Now we’re hoping that Reynard will learn from the others, and that he’ll become what a dog is supposed to be. 

 There is such a huge variation in dog personalities and intelligence, as much as there is in humans.  I see puppies from the same litter, and having had exactly the same growing environment, tirn into totally different adults.  Chippy, for example, is the most loving, gentle and affectionate young dog, a real heart melter, while her brothers and sisters remain nervous and aloof.  But of all the dogs that I’ve met during my time with HKDR, there is one that stands out as being quite exceptional (apart from my own Inky, of course).

Carla

Carla

When I first met Carla at the AFCD kennels she had two beautiful puppies with her, and I brought them all back to Lamma (this was before we had the Pokfulam kennels).

Around that time I also brought home a totally different kind of dog.  Barney was

Barney when he first came home, a physical and emtional wreck

Barney when he first came home, a physical and emtional wreck

so afraid and timid that during his time at AFCD he had even been too scared to eat.  He had a very thick coat so it hadn’t been apparent that he was slowly wasting away, until the day he had been too weak to even stand.  I carried him home, just skin and bone, and put him in the ground floor bathroom.  While Barney slowly regained weight and strength, Carla was happily running around with her pups, enjoying the freedom which these days my dogs don’t have as there’s now a high fence to keep them in.  Most days Carla would be on the beach, or leading her pups over the rocks, whatever took her fancy.  She also started to take an interest in Barney, and he responded by joining her family group and following Carla just as her puppies did. Towards humans, even me, he retained his fear.

Barney recovered but still very timid

Barney recovered but still very timid

One day I came home to find that there was no Carla, no puppies and no Barney.  I eventually

Carla's beautiful pups

Carla's beautiful pups

found them at another house in the bay (where a good friend of mine lives), and brought them home.  The next day they were gone again, back to the house that Carla had decided was going to be their new home.  She was totally determined and nothing could persuade her otherwise.  The pups were adopted, but four years later Carla and Barney still live at the other house, and last year Carla invited another dog to join them.  Digby was a stray that turned up in the bay, and he’s now he’s also become a devoted follower.  For Carla herself, her own devotion is to her chosen master, but she retains her independent, stubborn and determined nature, still spending each day leading her two gentlemen friends wherever the whim takes her, sometimes even swimming over to “Dog Island” for a day out.  For a dog to make independent decisions the way Carla does is really quite exceptional and I’m just happy that she has the freedom to live as she does.

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One Response to “Friday 3rd July: Carla’s story”

  1. Abby and Lou Says:

    Those are fantastic stories. It is wonderful when a dog or cat chooses you. Lou definitely chose us and Abby chose Lou.

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