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Tuesday, 29 July 2014 11:56

Rescuing an otterhound from France

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It was May when I had a phone call from friends in France who have Otterhounds, to say they had been told of an Otterhound on ‘death-row’ in a French Pound. They gave me details of a web-site run by Evelyn Gorrill, an English lady in France and sure enough, the photo was definitely an Otterhound, named Dede.

I phoned the lady and she said he had been found wandering in the snow, on the Atlantic coast and she thought he must have been owned by British people who had returned to the U.K., leaving him behind, as this is happening a great deal.  He didn’t have a micro-chip, a tattoo, or even the mark where a collar had been.  A French lady living near the Pound went to walk him twice a week.  She fell for him, but had already adopted three from there and didn’t have room for another.  At the Pound they realised he must be a pedigree, but had no idea which breed he was and for this reason he was kept longer than normal, while they did some research.  Annie then informed Evelyn, once they knew he was an Otterhound, saying the poor fellow was very depressed and starved.  He was a candidate for euthanasia, therefore he hadn’t given him any vaccinations and she said this Pound was one of the worst in the country.

We had never had an Otterhound needing to be rescued from a foreign country, but we had to organise it quickly.

I knew I had a good home for him here with experienced Otterhound owners, who had recently lost their beloved hound.

After making a few phone calls we had it organised!  It did mean dedicated dog/Otterhound lovers putting themselves out, but how willing they all very to help.  Even with France being such a huge country  everything just fell into place.

 Evelyn, with the web-site is on the Mediterranean coast, Dede on the Atlantic coast and my friends in central France.  Luckily the lady who walked him warned us the Pound wouldn’t release him if he was to leave the country, therefore my friends put their names forward to adopt him.  Annie paid the fee necessary to get him out and my friends, Alison & Billy Gale travelled three hours each way to take him to their home.  The three hour return journey had to be done with the windows open because the smell from him was so bad!

They had been prepared to let him sleep in their barn, not knowing if he would get on with their Otterhounds and cats, or if he had ever lived in a house, but on arrival he made himself at home and instantly bonded with their hounds and cats, eating all the food they had left in their bowls!. There wasn’t even a growl or spat between them.

First thing on the agenda was a bath, using their best Molten Brown products, which he really enjoyed and finally smelled very sweetly.

He was starving, but soon made-up for the lack of food.  It was obvious he had lived in a house and knew all the household noises and activities.  It was as if he had always lived there.

Next day they took him to their vet, where he was given all the necessary vaccinations, flee control etc and his passport began to be organised.  All of this should have taken three weeks, but there was a hiccup and it took a month.

All of these expenses were paid by Alison and Billy Gale, (who were on my Rescue Helper’s List before going to France) and I know it was a lot of money and I will always be grateful to them.  Billy even thought to ask me to find out what Anne and Bill Riley, the new owners, wanted to call Dede, which was a really good idea.  They said “Barney” and from then on, that was his name.  He became a very chilled-out hound, even relaxing for hours on their sun beds, while he gradually and slowly tore each one to shreds, but they didn’t care, they were besotted with him.

I must add that Barney did disgrace himself on his last night, when they were having chicken for dinner.  Billy left the table to answer the phone and in an instant Barney had stolen Billy’s chicken, but luckily Billy saw the funny side of it!

Evelyn often has to arrange for these rescued dogs to be transported all over France and during one of my phone calls to her she had mentioned she could help by putting me in-touch with an English man who had retired out there and spent his days transporting these dogs, only charging for the fuel he used.  He lived about two hour’s drive to the east of Alison and Billy.

His name was David and he turned out to be a really marvellous man.  Being a retired long distance lorry driver he knew France like the back of his hand.  When I phoned him he was reading-up on the Otterhound!  Never having seen one, he wasn’t sure of the size or temperament and said he always slept in his car with any dogs he transported, to keep costs down.  He was greatly relieved when I told him what a happy, amiable hound Barney was.  (Luckily there wasn’t a problem and after turning around in a few circles, he settled-down in the car and slept all night.)  David’s stories were incredible; needless to say he is a great dog-lover. And his blog is definitely worth reading.

On the day of departure Alison and Billy had another long drive to meet David to hand over Barney.  They phoned me when they arrived home and said they had cried all the way back.  They had fallen in love with him!

We were to meet David at Dover, but he offered to drive Barney all the way to Wiltshire to deliver him to his new owners, because he didn’t think it would be good for him to change cars and people at that point. He had thought of everything and nothing was too much trouble.

His new owners were delighted at this news and they paid all of his fuel to and from Dover.  They also had a meal waiting for him and a bed for the night.

Barney walked in to his new home and just adapted once again without a problem and they finally had what they said had been missing for too long, the possibility of burying their heads in an Otterhound’s coat – and a sweet smelling one at that!.

He has put on weight and isn’t any more the emaciated hound taken from the French Pound.

I am in-touch with them regularly and they are absolutely delighted with Barney, who is really at home with them and he looks so happy.

Sadly, after almost a year he developed some worrying issues and the vet referred him to an Animal Hospital.  After an MRI and various other tests they found it was bowel cancer.  In France they vet had decided he must be about 8 years old. I wondered what decision they would make, but to my delight they decided to operate, though they knew it would be a hefty bill and a strain on resources. Having had bowel cancer myself a great many years ago, I knew it was possible to make a full recovery if it was found in time.

We were in-touch on an almost daily basis He turned-out to be a very good patient and his new owner, Anne, was a wonderful nurse.

Over a year has gone-by since the operation and all is well.  He deserved to be another lucky one after all he had gone through and Anne and Bill, certainly deserved to have him make a full recovery.   

Read 464 times Last modified on Monday, 21 November 2016 14:24

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