My Involvement with Cocker Rescue
(submitted by Val Smith )

I first became involved with cocker rescue in Scotland many years ago, when Betty Crichton, who was Secretary at the time, rang me up one day and asked if I could board a cocker who was waiting to be re-homed – and things snowballed from that.

I can’t recall any humorous stories – rescue is rarely funny, but there have been many “happy endings”.

Some of the saddest cases have involved older dogs, suddenly discarded for (to me) the most pitiful and despicable reasons.

Some years ago, I got a call from a Kirkcaldy couple, who had completely re-decorated their house, and their TEN YEAR OLD golden cocker boy, was making so much noise barking in his new outside kennel, that he “had to go”.

How on earth can anyone have any animal from six weeks of age, living together in the house for ten years, and then naively believe that it will happily settle to life outside in the cold?
This was also in the depth of winter. And this wasn’t a shed converted into a kennel. This was the little box with no door, and he was tied up to it!
So this poor chap was brought over to us, and, despite his recent upset, was as nice a natured dog as you’ll ever get. However, I really doubted that, at his age, we’d find someone and somewhere for him.

Weeks went past, and to my great joy, just before Christmas, he was adopted and brought, once again, into the warmth and love of a family home.

Occasionally, tragic circumstances can result in cockers coming in for rescuing. On my daughter’s first day as a dog warden, she and her colleague were called to a house, where the occupant had been found dead.
They were ordered to remove the blue roan cocker from the house, and take it to a local dog sanctuary.
Shockingly for Victoria, she knew the owner and the dog, who was a regular boarder with us. The relatives of the dead woman asked us to take the dog from the sanctuary, and keep him until we found a home. Glen was twelve years old at this time, partially deaf, with eye and ear problems! … and yet! … yes, he found a home down in Newcastle, where, his eyes and ears have been treated, he lived out his remaining years.

There are umpteen stories like those, where we feel as though we have paid back part of the debt we owe our dogs, but there are times when we feel complete and utter failures.
Two dogs immediately come to mind. One was obviously a discarded working cocker. His teeth were filed down to the gums, but he was such a happy chap. The hair on the underside of his tail was practically worn away from the amount of wagging it did as he sat in the run, waiting for that special “someone”. That someone never did come. Being a dog used to living outside, the only time he was found a home, he wrecked it within half an hour, and was brought back. We had him nearly a year, and he eventually went “stir-crazy”, becoming aggressive and mentally deranged. No one at all would take him on. Pet homes were out of the question, and gundog people weren’t interested at all … he had to be put to sleep.

An equally distressing case was the 18 month old black boy, who had been passed on to an elderly woman by her son and daughter-in-law, when they no longer wanted him. By the time he came to us for assessment, he was a dominant monster. We only found out, after many phone calls and letters to the owner, that he had bitten her on many occasions, once in the face! The dog was only manageable when completely dominated in turn, but was so unpredictable that we had to write and advise the person that it was unlikely that we could, and would have been irresponsible for us to re-home him. Only then, did she tell us about all the atrocious behaviour of the dog … how he wouldn’t even let her move from one room to another! … he also had to be put to sleep.
These are just a few tales of rescue, but by no means the worst, so please take time to think about possible consequences when planning the next litter.