Posted by: John Colby | Sunday December 21 2008

Unwanted and Old

The story starts on Monday last, 15th December. A posting was made on one of the forums run by the Dogs Trust, UK rehoming charity, that a dog was threatened with destruction. Now this happens every day in this and a load more countries. But something was different. We couldn’t have more dogs – the campsite we go to has a limit of two dogs per pitch. No way could we help.

That situation lasted for less than 24 hours when we learned that the reason that the dog was being put for destruction was that he wagged his tail too much and was in danger of harming a three year old. One phone call to my wife, her phone call to the campsite to see if they’d bend the rules in the circumstances and we said we’d have him. This was on Tuesday 16th December.

Now here’s the insane part. Not only had we not seen him, the person rescuing him (in Lancashire, a hundred and twenty miles away) had not seen him either. The only description was that it was a collie cross. Some frantic e-messages and one phone call and we’d arranged to collect him on the Thursday evening. So why were we doing it? We don’t know.

So Max (the dog) duly arrived at the house of sanctuary and was temporarily assimilated into that household of family and two border collies. Thanks to the web we had some photos to look at by Wednesday evening. Thursday came, brought a meeting forward and set off.

In the rush hour.

And rain.

And discovered that there was an accident blocking the motorway.

And followed the route that everyone else was following to try to avoid the blocked motorway.

And it took more than four hours!

So then in a Lancashire village a knock on the door was answered by multiple dogs barking. I’d arrived. And an hour later following refreshments and loads of talk we were off again. And at midnight arrived home with a dog that we didn’t know. He’d not have been here had he not been taken in.

We’ve had the expected dominance issues with the other two which are being resolved. He’s an older boy – needs his rest and peace.

Max, the furry footwarmer (he’s taken up residence in the dog basket that lives under my desk) is OK. He’s obviously been traumatised by the events of the past week for him – having been moved twice. He’s not eating very well – certainly not dog food, so we’re tempting him with sausages and roast chicken. We think he’s holding out for this, sometimes. The person who rescued him found that he wouldn’t eat much, either, so we have progress.

When we went to the vet to have him checked over and microchipped she said that if owners have made the decision to have a dog put down then they withdraw from it, just giving food and shelter, rather than interaction and attention as well. The dog then reacts to this by putting themselves on a care and maintenance basis, just eating what is necessary to survive. In Max’s case this may have been going on for some time. Sue, who rescued him, was told that he only ate a small amount and only in the evenings. We’ve introducing him to our routine which involves breakfast and a certain number of treats during the day. We’ve got to build him up a bit as he’s quite thin.

He’s got a heart murmur, leaky valves probably, but he’s ten and some sort of medical condition was expected. However many dogs have such a murmur – and if he contracts a cough we’re to get him back there sooner rather than later. Medication for things like that can help immensely.

Sandy, the top dog, is being a little possessive of tennis balls, and is showing it. However we’re working on it. Kerry, on the other hand, wants to play. Max is still very unsure, as apart from two days in Lancashire he hasn’t lived with other dogs before.

Our Christmas preparations, which were ahead of plan last weekend, have now descended into an almighty rush, much as usual. The dust can wait. The dog is more important.

Why have we done it? Still don’t know.

But we could not see a dog put down because its tail wagged too much. We’re very glad to have him.

Max the happy dog. Also known as Sir Maxwell Whiffalot as we've discovered he likes self-fragrancing in deposits left by foxes!

Max the happy dog. Also known as Sir Maxwell Whiffalot as we've discovered he likes self-fragrancing in deposits left by foxes!

Link to Max’s Kennel on Doggysnaps

Link to Max just after Rescue

Link to Max’s personal blog on Doggysnaps



  1. John, you’re just a big softie and I’m sure that Max is glad of it!
    Merry Christmas to you all

  2. John, I saw this from the Dog’s Trust and it’s really cheered me with a bit of Christmas spirit.

    We have a rescued collie that we took in because it’s owner planned to kill him because there were kids in the house. We’re expecting our first child now and it’s true that we worry about how the dogs will cope and vice-versa – but we could never even consider having Sol destroyed….

    Anyhow, in this story all the dogs have come out well and that’s down to you and your wife showing some real Christmas spirit…so may the blessings of the season give you you + your canine friends a Happy Christmas and great new year!

  3. I happened on this story via the Dogs Trust blog. Max has certainly landed on his paws. Here’s wishing you – and him – the very best of times in 2009!

  4. Regret to say that Max died in his sleep this morning. He’d been having regular medication for his heart condition but we had been warned that it was only a matter of time – and this was his time.

    When we went to work this morning he was lively – had breakfast, took his tablets, barked at us for daring to leave him, but when our son came home from his shift at lunchtime he was in one of his favourite places in the house, but gone. He’d died not long after we left him, peacefully, we think in his sleep.

    He was a one off – a dog rescued because we were on Doggysnaps – a dog that was unwanted, but who repaid loyalty with love and affection as well as loyalty. From a thin dog with a lacklustre coat he became an active dog with soft shiny fur and with mischief in him. He became part of the pack, a real Celtic Terror. We were looking forward to improving our position at the St Buryan Dog show (second in the veterans class last year) and taking him on holiday again as he’d already ‘helped’ with getting the tent ready. That’s just one of the things that’s a happy memory. There are loads and loads. Sandy and Kerry are really missing him – they’re both keeping close to us.

    His ashes will be scattered in one of his favourite walking places. It was only a week ago that he went swimming there – not much – just a little dip because he wanted to – and he ran – nothing stopping his spirit.

    We knew we wouldn’t have him for long – he was ten when he came to us and had a heart condition, but with the work and dedication of our vet we kept him going. However the thing that affected him was bigger than he could cope with.

    Run free, Max.

  5. […] arrived, and the story has been told in Unwanted and Old. Getting to know us – the first […]

  6. Loved your story about Max,my Jasper had a heart murmur and i can remember all the coughing he done and how it upset me that i couldn’t help him,but i’ve got great memories of him like you have of Max.they’ve gone but not forgotten xx

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