I can’t help but think of him, abandoned and now in a kill shelter

I can’t help but think of him, abandoned and now in a kill shelter 

 I have a hot date this weekend. I’ve bought food. I bought a little dress.

What I haven’t done is waxed, plucked, tanned, jogged, threaded or dyed. You guessed it! My new man is border collie.

I got in touch during lockdown with Stef, a charming woman who owns an animal-rescue organization. She lives in Durham – not that far from me – so I had offered her lots of old horse rugs I no longer use. The sight of Dream the pony’s tiny outfits still hanging in the tack room broke my heart (she died four years ago). Stef mostly rescues dog and sent me photos of a Romanian kill shelter male collie.

It reminds me of Sam, my first collie. He is very fearful. Beautiful, beady eyes, like a teddy. He is my Teddy, so I am happy to have him.

I wait for what seems like a year then, on Thursday, I got a text – ‘He is on his way!’ – accompanied by a photo of him, cowering and dejected, in a crate in the van. His eyes are swollen and he has filthy feet.

Teddy in  the shelter

Teddy in  the shelter 

As an expectant mom, I was rushing around. I’ve bought him a name tag, collar, lead and harness, although I have no idea what size he is. Missy, my latest rescue is about the size of a kitten. It is not easy for any of the collie girls. Mini is jealous when I mention the name of another collie girl; it’s like her ex-boyfriend. Gracie, who is incontinent now, must sleep on a nappy, which she chews. Missy doesn’t like wheelbarrows, the hosepipe, me running a bath, rain, thunder, the crackle of a log on the fire. When any of those happen, Missy gets the tail between her legs. She doesn’t even like walks. She’ll stop and stare at me, then dig into her paws, refusing to move any further. After I have finally given in, she speeds off to my destination. All she desires is to have everything in her basket.

I don’t really want another dog, but I couldn’t bear to imagine Teddy stuck in a pen in Romania, with the temperature well below zero, frozen and alone over Christmas. I’m now waiting for the text to say he has landed, a furry refugee. I can’t help but think of the people who drowned in the English Channel. Children. The woman who was pregnant. They were not waiting with Waitrose toys or human food. Christmas Day is a time for him to see that we love him.

Teddy settling in  at home

Teddy settling in  at home 

It’s now Sunday. I received a message. ‘They are through the Channel Tunnel!’ Stef sends me a list of who’s on board, with ETAs. 21 people are listed. Scrappy. Maggie. Monica. There are so many lives that will be changed. My collie is near the top, and he will arrive Monday morning at 10:50 a.m. Once more I can’t help but think of him, having been abandoned, in a kill shelter, now in a van, and what must be his thoughts: Will I meet my mummy at the end of this? Will I know it’s Christmas time at all?

It’s now Monday afternoon. Poor Teddy is on his fourth day of travel. I’m a bag of nerves. A van pulls up. The side of the van reads Transport Animale. Oh dear god. Unidentified young man emerges. I am handed the passport by the young man.

The largest collie I’ve ever seen, he emerges. Teddy is being carried as he’s too frightened to walk. He just crouches on the floor, while being carried. He’s being carried in. Mini bares her teeth, jealous. He sips water from my bowl and then he eats it all.

It is hard to imagine how I will get him in the garden. There has never been a more anxious dog. He doesn’t even know his name. He doesn’t yet know that he is safe.

Stef can be followed on Twitter


8 1/2 Stone by Liz Jones is now available on Audible and Amazon as an audiobook. Soon to Spotify and Apple Books, as well as all other outlets. 


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