In October 2011 I received an appeal from Macu in Seville. She works hard to rescue mainly podencos from a gypsy enclave. One of the podencos was a big hair boy which she called Chaplin, a Podenco Campanero, the type used for hunting boar. I posted an appeal for someone to take Chaplin into their hearts and he was spotted by a PP reader, Norma, in Scotland. She is a volunteer with SOS Animals and had enlisted their agreement to Chaplin being taken under their wing.
Macu doesn't speak English so initially Norma and I had a problem communicating with Macu, whereupon I enlisted the help of my friend Marisa, who acted as translator and mediator. A foster home was found for Chaplin and SOS Animals and Macu began the pocess of preparing him for entry into the UK. In February 2012 he travelled from Spain to the UK with Ruso, another podenco from Macu.
Alison now takes up the story of how Chaplin - now called Barney - touched her heart.
'Six and a half weeks ago a large, scruffy hound entered our lives and hearts. We had seen Chaplin on a website and fallen in love with his sad face and wonky ears. When we read his terrible story, we desperately wanted to bring him to our home. I contacted Tania at SOS Animals and she told me a little more about him. We were home checked and then got the wonderful news that he was coming over to the UK on the 10 February.
We were slightly apprehensive as there had been a question mark over his behaviour with male dogs and we already have two rescue greyhounds, one male and one female. However, our male dog, Smokey, is very submissive and so we were hopeful that they would get along.
Chaplin arrived on a very cold night. The drivers had brought him to within a few miles of our home, so he only had a short journey with us. We introduced him to our dogs in the garden (it was too cold and dark to go on a walk) and everyone greeted each other very calmly. Chaplin came into the house and checked it all out and very quickly settled in.
We had heard that he was a very nervous dog, but actually he coped much better than the greyhounds had when they first arrived. We had to take him to the vet to have an ear infection seen to, but he was a complete sweetheart there and all the nurses fell in love with him! He is very nervous of men so a female vet attended to him.
The next day we took him for a walk and it was lovely to see him enjoying all the new smells and sights. He was very dirty and his coat was tangled and matted, so my daughter gave him a bath and cut out all the dreadlocks. He very quickly bonded with me and followed me everywhere. He accepted my husband very quickly but found my tall, dark 14 year old son very intimidating. We’re still working on that relationship now – he must remind him of someone in Spain! We decided to change his name to Barney.
A few days later he needed an operation on his ear because the infection wasn’t clearing up. He had a general anaesthetic which made him feel under the weather for a couple of days afterwards, but he was soon back to normal and sleeping through the night. A period of settling in followed.
His initial separation anxiety was sorted by me stopping him from following me everywhere by shutting doors for short periods of time. He quickly realised he would be safe even if he couldn’t see me. He started getting jealous of the other dogs and we had a couple of minor fights, but by putting a stairgate across the door to let him see us with the other dogs but limiting his access, he soon realised that everyone should have their turn with me. We don’t have any growls now!
Barney loves his walks. We kept him on a lead for the first month, but started letting him off in safe places for short bursts and quickly realised that he was not going to run away. He always stays close – he enjoys a good run, but his recall is perfect!
All in all, Barney is pretty much the perfect dog. We still have a few little issues – he has some itchy skin patches that we can’t find the cause of and he still cringes when he sees a strange man, but time will hopefully sort this. He is a joy.
Seeing his pleasure from throwing a toy around the garden or from racing with Molly, one of our greyhounds, brings both tears and laughter. He loves his food, but he doesn’t steal it and he gets almost as much pleasure from a fresh bowl of water. Everyone who has met him has enjoyed seeing this beautiful boy blossom and now we can’t imagine life without him.'