On the day Duffy was due to be rehomed it became apparent that he had significant dog aggression issues, so instead of going to his new family, Duffy went into a SAR foster home.
During a routine vet check shortly after arriving in his foster home, it was identified that Duffy had a heart murmur, and after extensive examinations and a heart scan, he was diagnosed with a heart condition, which would require lifelong monitoring and medication.
This, along with his dog aggressive behaviour and a problem with excessive barking, made Duffy a much harder prospect for rehoming, and he spent five months in his foster home while a suitable home was sought.
Following an appeal on both SAR and another spaniel rescue facebook page for a suitable, experienced home, Rachel Harrison contacted SAR.
The rest is her story.
Duffy – The dog with the broken heart
I first came across Duffy’s advertisement after it had been shared on SAR Facebook. I had been looking to re-home a dog for some time, but I had my mind fixed on getting a Labrador, a generic black Labrador. However, being a spaniel girl at heart it did not take much persuasion to dig deeper into Duffy’s advertisement.
Reading through Duffy’s advert it was apparent that he was not an ‘easy’ rehome case for SAR and required someone to read between his flaws. When I first read it, I made a note of his ‘problem’ list, so to say in the nicest way possible, to get my head around how this beautiful boy had failed in his previous home. From the advert I was able to extract the following problems which seemed to be holding him back finding his forever home:
1. Reactive/dog aggressive – this was clearly limiting his rehome to a home with no other dogs.
2. Recently diagnosed with a congenital heart condition, Mitral Valve Disease. – this comes with some financial commitment which is not covered by insurance and naturally limits people willing to take on this big responsibility.
Once I had this list in my head, I soon realised that there was no reason why this chap should not find his forever home. I too grew up as a child with a heart condition so there was something in common straight away.
Having previous experience of being a dog handler in the military and recently qualified as a veterinary technician I felt I had the experience, knowledge, and confidence to take Duffy on, not to mention having a superb veterinary network to seek advice regarding his health.
I collected Duffy from David and Julie, his fosterers. Duffy had been living with them in foster care and they were and still are besotted with Duffy and that was evident to see from the start. He truly did leave footprints on their heart.
Initially I took him for a 4 week home trail. However, I knew from the moment I saw him I would keep him.
Since having Duffy he has come on leaps and bounds. It did not take long to form a bond with him. He is an exceptionally loyal dog.
With a little help from a few of my dog trainer friends we carefully started to socialise Duffy and it became evident that he was actually a very social dog just trapped away inside himself. Several socialisation sessions later over a few months, and he was like a dog transformed. He is such a social happy dog who has learnt the correct ways to communicate with other dogs.
Duffy still requires daily medication for his heart condition and annual echocardiograms to monitor his condition changes. It is inevitable that he will one day enter congested heart failure, however, in true Duffy style, he has amazed his veterinary surgeon by showing no signs of deterioration in between his routine scans, which is fantastic news. He even completed his first Munro last summer. He is a real credit.
Duffy is my best friend; I still wonder whether it was me that rehomed him or the other way round, I could not imagine my life now without him.
Although it is always in the back of my mind that his life is time-limited, the most important thing is that Duffy lives every single day like it is his last and the love oozes out of him. Thank you, SAR, for finding me my perfect, imperfect dog.