When I left my mums house to live on my own I always wanted a dog, we had always had dogs at home as children. It was November 1988 and I was looking through a copy of the 'Liverpool Echo' when an advert caught my eye: 'Good homes wanted for unwanted dogs.' I rang the number and spoke to a lady who reeled off a list of dogs and amongst them was a 16 week old Greyhound, Callum. His mother had Parvo virus and had just had puppies in a racing kennel in Liverpool. The owner had the mother put to sleep and all the pups had died apart from this one, and he was very poorly. The vets told the owner that he was hoping the puppy would make a full recovery, but because he had been so poorly he would not be strong enough to race.
When the owner heard this he said "Oh, I'm not interested then ….." and walked out of the surgery. The nurses at the surgery then looked after the puppy and paid for his treatment from their own money. He was on a drip for five weeks and had to be turned over regularly to prevent blood clots etc.
When he was close to recovery he was put up for adoption and I adopted him and called him ‘Paddy’ He was 16 weeks old and he was like a little skeleton. He had to have fish, rice and eggs and other bland food for weeks until he was better. (Even now he loves fried rice from the Chinese take away. )
He was very weak and it took a while for him to fully recover. Anyway now he's ten and a half years old and showing signs of age e.g.. grey hair but he doesn't seem to be slowing down much apart from the odd bout of cramp or stiffness after a good run. In the past ten years I have had lots of ups and downs in my life and Paddy has always been with me, every step of the way. He is extremely determined, he knows exactly what he wants and usually makes sure he gets it ! He is very clever and has done some amusing (and amazing) things in his time.
On one occasion he barked during the night about Sam to go out for a wee & I let him out. Unbeknown to me he sqeeeeezed through a tiny gap in the fence and after having a nosy round, he set off for my mums house (his granny)
My mum was fast asleep and he was standing at the front of her house, barking and looking up to the bedroom window as if to say "I'm here !" This was at approx. 4.30am. This may not seem all that amazing but I actually lived about 4 miles away from my mum at this time ! I would have loved to know what route he took, if it was the same one I used to drive. The only thing I can think of is that months earlier it was a Bank Holiday Monday and I was bored and we walked to my mums, so I wondered if he followed this scent even though it was ages after ? Only Paddy knows!
The next instalment :
It was a Thursday night, 13th December 1997 and I was late night shopping for Xmas in St Helens Town Centre and a few yards away I saw a sillouhette of a skeletal dog limping along on three legs. It was a Greyhound or a lurcher, that's why it caught my attention. I pulled over in my car and tried to talk to it, but it was absolutely terrified and just limped off down a side street (at speed) I drove round and tried to catch it a couple more times but it kept dodging me and running into the road. By this time it wasn't far from my house, so I thought I'd better get help so I nipped home and rang my mum who appeared with two leads and we set off looking again.
We saw it near to my house stood in somebody's front garden guarding a bone. We closed in on him but again he dodged us and ran down an alleyway, with his bone.
It was dark and very cold and we couldn't find him. I was extremely upset and I was aware that a dog sleeping rough wouldn't last long in those cold temperatures, especially while it was so thin. I rang the Police and the RSPCA but neither could offer any help other than "Ring the Dog Warden in the morning" which I did. It turned out the Dog Warden, Colin Henderson, had been trying to catch him for weeks! There had been numerous sightings of him close to some farm buildings & nearby housing estate, but no one had seen him in town before, we presumed he had gone further afield to search for food.
Colin had traced him back to the farm to an open fronted barn and had left a trap there with food in it. He was actually going to the farm to check the trap that morning. I told him if he managed to catch the dog I may be interested in keeping him. I rang him later, but no luck, the dog was not in the trap. I began to worry that I had made him lose his bearings when I was chasing him through town. The farm was about 2.5 miles away from the town centre. The next day was Saturday and I decided to take it upon myself to drive up to the farm to see if I could see him, and at the very least give him something to eat.
He was in such an awful state I wondered if he hadn't survived the drop in temperature. The farmers wife was agreeable to me looking round for him and asked one of the farm hands to show me where he had been sleeping and where the trap was. We looked all over and there was no sign of him, I was so worried that I had made him get lost. I then asked if I could look around myself and they said yes, then the farmhand spotted him lying behind a bale of straw. I was elated that he had managed to find his way back from the Town Centre and that he was still alive.
The farm workers had all tried to catch him at some point but he always managed to dodge them. I was very careful not to scare him away from where he must've felt safe. I approached very carefully with the two steak pies I had armed myself with, just in case, and he slowly lifted his head and looked at me. I was totally horrified! He was in an awful state. His eyes were sunken in and all the bones in his face were jutting out, he was truly emaciated. He looked as though he didn't have the strength, or will, to carry on.
I threw him a tiny tiny piece of pie crust and he was so weak he had difficulty swallowing it, it seemed to be sticking in his throat, and he kept gagging on it. I fed him the rest in minute pieces and then immediately backed away so he knew I wasn't a threat to him. From then on I went to the farm twice per day, before I went to work and as soon as I finished work. I wanted to feed him and to try to gain his confidence a little. I fed him with warm milk mixed with eggs and sugar, and a small mushy meal of dog food and biscuits. I fed him and brought him a thermal blanket to keep him warm.
I had decided that I wanted to try to catch him and take him home with me, at least I could give him a home with warmth and regular meals. And I asked a friend to make a kennel for him. I thought he was a she and I was going to call her 'Holly' whilst it was so close to Christmas. Anyway I was at the farm one night after work, with my small torch and I noticed 'she' had balls!! so to speak.
One particular night I thought' I'll try to stroke him' but was dubious of what his response would be, surely by now he knew I was his friend ? While he was eating his little meal I reached out and quickly stroked his head and drew my hand back straight away, waiting for a response. He stopped eating and looked at me: and there we were, gawping at each other After that, he had lots of strokes & tickles. Plus I used to talk and sing to him (I'm not nutty, honestly !) One night an old man helping on the farm came to talk to me. He had been involved with Greyhounds for years, though not now.
He said he had seen 'that dog' at the week end and thought'he won't be here when I come in tomorrow' such was his condition. One of the other farm hands said they had seen the dog in the field when they were harvesting which was August time, so he had actually been fending for himself for months! No wonder he was at deaths door.
After a few days the farmer had changed his attitude and wanted me to take him away there and then because he claimed the sight of him was upsetting the farm workers. I explained that his kennel wasn't ready yet and he gave me another couple of days. I have since heard that he intended to shoot the dog but didn't have a gun but was trying to borrow one. Throughout the week, the Dog Warden, Colin, put me in touch with Warrington Animal Welfare who said they would try to find him a home if I caught him but couldn't keep him.
I explained that I had ordered a kennel to be made as I couldn't have two dogs in my small house, especially two male dogs. Luckily he was getting used to me now and never ran off when I approached him. I decided to try and catch him on my day off Thursday, and Colin agreed to meet me at the farm and give us a lift in his van to the Vets who were going to check him over (courtesy of Warrington Animal Welfare) The night before, I hardly slept, I was tossing and turning and running the scene through my mind a thousand times, each time had a different ending; what if he wasn't there, or he ran off, or he bit me, or he was calm, or he struggled etc.
I was glad when morning came. This particular morning I took him his food and milk and he had moved to the top of a pile of straw covered potatoes about 20 feet high, which was slowly diminishing as they were being packed to sell. I climbed up & gave him his food and talked to him for a while until I saw the Dog Warden's van enter the farm. I thought 'this is it' and I slipped a lead over his head, waiting for the response. I half expected him to be frantic and struggle like crazy and pull me off the potato pile ! He never even flinched. I stood up and he stood with me, and as I walked down the straw bales, he followed me, quiet as a lamb.
When we got to the van he stood quietly and Colin lifted him inside onto his blanket and he curled up. I got into the back with him & we went off to the Vets. This was the first time I had seen him in any light other than dusk and I was shocked. He had no fur, and his skin was bright pink. Colin said he had chased him a few times and thought he resembled a little pink pig ! Colin also thought he might have a broken leg & told me to be prepared that the vet may decide to put him to sleep. The Vet actually said he was emaciated and exhausted, his shoulder blades were like knife edges, although his leg wasn't broken he had some kind of injury and his shoulder muscle had wasted away. Also he had sarcoptic mange, hence his baldness. Luckily all these things could be treated, although he couldn't guarantee that his hair would grow back because the mange was so advanced. He gave him some inoculations and some body wash and off we went. The Animal Welfare had arranged for him to be kennelled for two nights until his own kennel was complete, and they also paid for his initial vets fees from their funds.
I collected him on the Saturday morning with my mum, in my own car, and I took him home.
When we arrived he wouldn't get out of the car we thought he was fed up of being passed from pillar to post. Eventually we got him out and he ran straight into his kennel and settled down on his blanket. I gave him a few days to settle down and get into a routine and then I decided to take him for a small walk, bearing in mind he was still quite weak. Firstly I couldn't get him out of his kennel and when I did he was very very depressed. He plodded along with his head down and didn't even stop to sniff or look around him. A couple of weeks later I took him out with Paddy and my mums two whippets so he could be 'part of a gang'! and he seemed to perk up a little. Weeks and weeks later I was still washing him down and he was still bald. All of a sudden he seemed to get a spurt of hair growth and it grew back over about a month, to a lovely, shiny, dark brindle.
Today his personality is bursting out and he is extremely loving and also mischievous. He is still extremely scared of people and will only come to me or my mum and my boyfriend occasionally, but I am not surprised by this after the ordeal he has been through. On one occasion shortly after I took him home, I was working away for one night and my mum called round to take both dogs out for exercise. He would not come out of his kennel, he was cowering at the back, trembling. When she fed him he would not come out for his dinner and indeed it was still there untouched, when I returned home the next day. When he saw me, he gingerly came out of his kennel, then he bounded round me a little and then ran to his dinner and started to 'tuck in' On occasions he had to come into the house, he hated it, he was scared of the T.V. , scared of the doors closing, or the microwave noise, things like that.
We have moved house now and live near lots of fields and open spaces. We love it. Ben is now at the stage where he is in the house all the time and they sprawl along a radiator each. I feel I've really made a difference to these two little lives, especially when I see their two little faces waiting for me to come in from work, and their ears go back when they see me. I couldn't ask for anything more cheering.
Sadly, since Paddy's story was written, he has passed away, but we wanted to include his story in memory of this very special greyhound.