Anyone who hangs out with rescue dogs will tell you that there’s something special about each and every dog. They’re right. Yet, there are still some who get to you a little more than others. There’s no rhyme or reason, no explanation and for me, it’s always a surprise.
This weekend, Mabel got to me.
I was all set for an action-packed trip to Devon to work with a group of survivors and my chosen canine co-tutor for the weekend was a very small staffy / staffy-cross called Mabel. To say that she’s cute would be the understatement of the year but that pales into insignificance when you get to know her. She has a level of resilience that defies belief and a character that draws you in from the second you meet her.
Mabel is a small dog, but at the moment she’s smaller than she should be. She was neglected, malnourished and used for breeding. Under the careful watch of the team at Hilbrae Rescue, she has gone from a girl who was terrified or everything and everyone to the life and soul of the kennels with an ever-growing fan club. We couldn’t set off on our journey without a number of her humans wishing her well and having goodbye cuddles. She’s still underweight but her nutrition plan is working wonders to bring her back to full health, her skin is healing and her outlook on life has transformed.
She also knows what she wants and never let it be said that our canine co-tutors don’t get everything they need to set them up for success.
Despite being used to outings and more than happy in the car, Mabel decided quite early on that she was far too fabulous to be travelling in the boot of the car. She made her feelings clear and as I travel with every possible piece of kit I could need (I’ve been caught out before, more fool me if I’m ever caught out a second time), a secure bed and seatbelt combo were installed and she promptly fell asleep for an hour. I’m nothing if not well-trained.
To say that she’s perfect company is no understatement. When we were hanging out in the sun, enjoying the mini-heatwave in the south of the UK, she sat on my lap and enjoyed the attention of the people sitting near us. She wasn’t bothered enough to go to them but did enjoy a few moments with a Labrador puppy, as did I. Wandering around a park and on the streets of Exeter, she was unfazed and while she does have an understandable interest in food, I was able to eat my dinner without any help. Her one failing, if you can call it that, is for a small dog, she sure can snore.
Mabel and I had a special pass for Saturday as dogs aren’t usually allowed into Exeter Library, so we did our best not to draw attention to ourselves, but the whisper of ‘ahhhhh, she’s so cute’ followed us to the room that we had been allocated. The glass doors also meant that there was an unusually large gathering of readers outside throughout the day.
Every dog we are lucky enough to work with on our Canine Hope sessions is exceptional. They all bring something different to the session and Mabel was no exception. Her story touched the women in the group, they could see that she had been hurt and let down by humans but they could also see that she was more than willing to put her trust in them. She wasn’t going to transfer her negative experiences and allow that to get in the way of meeting fabulous people who were more than willing to offer their laps in response to her less than subtle requests for cuddles. In the lunch break, Mabel had a potter and a nap (because her mid-morning, mid-session, snooze wasn’t enough!) and returning to the group, she greeted them like long-lost friends. Her tail didn’t stop wagging during the training exercises and she responded beautifully to everyone, regardless of whether they were holding the treats or not.
Mabel showed us resilience in action. Her bounce-back-ability after everything she has been through is something we can all aspire to.
Funnily enough, after such a busy day, the comfort of the boot with her bed, blankets, water and teddy-pillow was quite appealing and I didn’t hear any complaints on our drive back to the hotel.
As you know, after a long day at work and a good night’s sleep, there’s nothing better than some sea air to refresh the mind and body. As we were passing Weston-Super-Mare on our way back to the kennels the following day, we thought it would be rude not to stop and play on the beach. We even found some water but Her Ladyship was suitably underwhelmed by that, opting instead for a cuddle while I had a cuppa in a dog-friendly café. She met dogs of all shapes and sizes, from a teacup dachshund (his humans couldn’t find a coat small enough so had improvised with a sock… genius!) to a giant labradoodle and everything in-between. She had a lot of admirers as we walked back to the car and once again, decided that jumping in the boot wasn’t so bad after all.
For more information about adopting Mabel, or any of the other incredible dogs who are waiting for their forever home, please contact Hibrae Rescue.