Animal welfare is very important to me and I have always been very drawn to animal rescue and rehabilitation. As a vet, I have always been involved in fostering and volunteer work for rescue organisations.

My second day as a new graduate saw me bring home six abandoned four-week old puppies and a weak juvenile kookaburra. Since then, many rescue animals have spent time with our family; some have just needed a temporary place to stay but others have needed a little more.

Scrappy Coco was brought in to see me by the local women’s shelter. She had come from a home with domestic violence and had an old untreated leg injury from allegedly being kicked. One of her back legs was tucked up under her body, wasted and useless. She was skinny, dirty and covered in ticks but amazingly still friendly and outgoing with a sweet personality. Scrappy 2016-2 (2)

The local animal rescue group was keen to rehome her but as it turned out she needed not only desexing and vaccinating but extensive orthopaedic surgery followed by months of rehabilitation before she could be advertised for a comparatively miniscule adoption fee. The rescue group just couldn’t afford it and Scrappy Coco was in limbo.

I knew I had to adopt her. In fact, I was so compelled to adopt this dog nothing would have stopped me. She was a good dog and she deserved a good home and the chance to save her leg. So I cleaned her up and took her home.

I didn’t actually tell my now husband that I fully intended to keep Scrappy Coco. She was allegedly just another foster dog… but she knew she was home the minute she walked in the door! She knew she was safe and she absolutely adored us – and Stolli the snobby Staffy seemed to like her too. After three days my husband told me he didn’t want to give her back.

The only issue we had was getting Scrappy to eat. We had to hand-feed her for days. 4Legs was the only thing she would eat apart from cat food which was obviously what she had been fed in the past (not happening in my house!).

She was very unfit and could only walk about half a block before needing to be carried, so I suspect she had never been walked. After a couple of months of good nutrition, Scrappy Coco looked like a totally different dog – bright eyes, a beautiful coat and a confident, gorgeous demeanour with energy to burn. Although her leg was surgically repaired it would never be perfect. It took another year before she was rehabilitated and using it properly again.

We’ve had Scrappy Coco Petal for seven years now and she is the most loyal little dog you will ever find (and if I put anything other than 4Legs in her dinner bowl she looks at me like I’m mad).

We obviously kept her original name but added Petal on the end in the spirit of crazy dog names (which seems to be becoming a habit at our place).

For years Scrappy has had a great pal in Stolli and they used to play endlessly. A few years ago Stolli suddenly seemed very old and now at nearly 15, isn’t so keen on playing any more. Loyal little Scrappy still spends much of the day lying next to Stolli as she dozes in the sun, classic Staffy-style.

Getting to know you (2)

There is something so special about an adult rescue dog and when Scrappy Coco Petal needed a playmate closer to her age, I felt confident adopting another adult from a rescue organisation.

Next time I’ll introduce you to Bruce Buzman Kawaza (I told you we did crazy dog names – life is short, why not?) and discuss how to house-train an adult dog that has never been kept inside. Neither Scrappy nor Bruce were house-trained but both are now successfully trained, wonderful house-dogs.