Our Holly Hedge Adoption

When our daughter kept asking for a dog I gave her a test to see how committed she was. She had to eat a whole plate of peas which she normally wouldn't touch. After she ate the lot she said can we go to Holly Hedge now? She knew about the rescue centre because my sister Jodie was a fundraiser there. I said pick a small one but we met a beautiful German Shepherd girl named Sky who was 18 months old and had already had 2 homes. That was it, we collected her in 2006 and changed her name to Lola. She was extremely clever and we never had to teach her a thing. We never understood why the previous owners gave her up. Very sadly she passed away this week at nearly 16. We will miss her terribly.

Huey (was Houston)
Huey (was Houston)
This is the story of our Border Collie we adopted from Holly Hedge in October 2007. We heard of him because one of the fundraisers had told us about this 8 month old frightened little lad called Houston who had recently arrived at the sanctuary.

On seeing him there it was obvious he was very scared but not nasty, so I asked to go in the run with him.

He came to me straight away and cuddled in and that's when I knew he was coming home with us.

I started training him and began agility training which helped give him the confidence he needed, he proved to be brilliant at agility and won several contests and many rosettes.

He's now called Huey and still enjoying life at 13 years of age, but just a bit slower. The only thing he's frightened of now is the moon !!! (but's that's another story)

Harley came to Holly Hedge on a cold day in February in a very sorry state. She was taken straight to the vet as it was obvious there was something very wrong with her. She couldn't walk properly, and was shuffling around in circles and seemed to be in a lot of pain. We knew this poor dog had been kept outside in a kennel for at least 2 years because she was incontinent. Once a loved house pet, at the age of 11 years old and very arthritic she was an inconvenience, so banished to the garden! We were told that Harley hadn't seen a vet since she was a puppy, and she had never been given any pain relief for her arthritis.

The vet kept her in overnight for observation with a view to doing X-rays the following day. It was apparent that Harley was suffering deep rooted pain and was also very sore and ulcerated with urine scald where she had been lying in her own urine. She couldn’t walk, only shuffle along on her 2 front legs. The X-rays showed there may have been some trauma to the spine and her hips were very stiff with arthritis, she also had muscle wastage in her back end. The prognosis wasn’t good.

There was no way this poor old girl could go into a kennel, so she came to me to be fostered and assessed for her quality of life. Harley looked so pitiful – a broken little dog in body and spirit, with nothing but a blank expression in her sad eyes and was very hand shy. She could hardly walk and it was heart breaking to see her struggling. It was so upsetting to see, and I knew if she didn’t improve it would be kinder to have her quietly put to sleep – but she deserved a chance. Poor Harley was also in season. She had only just been put on strong pain killers and other soothing medication for her skin that day, so it was hoped she would soon be feeling brighter. She was definitely totally incontinent both ends and could pee for England, bless her! Harley had to be washed down several times a day but this dear sweet dog never complained. She enjoyed her food and loved to be cuddled, as well as her daily massages. Slowly but surely, I could see her improving and thriving - not just in her body, but in her demeanour too. After a couple of weeks Harley began to walk a few steps at a time unaided, the medication and being in a warm home environment along with lots of TLC was working well. I was soon able to take her out for short walks which she so looked forward to, and even managed a game of football for a few minutes at a time. To my horror she made it upstairs all by herself as she was beginning to get inquisitive – except she couldn't get back down again and had to be carried! She was still incontinent, but not nearly as bad. The day she gave me her first Staffie smile melted my heart - it wasn't the biggest smile, but I knew then that Harley really was happy. She loved having visitors and always took centre stage enjoying treats brought especially for her. But she still had a way to go. Would the right home ever come along for this amazing little miracle who fought so hard to live a normal life?

Weeks later, when I thought she was here to stay, the most wonderful couple contacted Holly Hedge. They had recently had to have their own much loved Staffie put to sleep, who had also been incontinent, but they didn't mind and even had suitable flooring put down just for her. Knowing Harley's history, they still wanted to meet her and it really was love at first sight, for her as well as them.

A lot of tears were shed when Harley went to her new home, but I knew in my heart she was going to the best home ever for however long she had left, with 2 amazing and lovely people who were totally dedicated to making her happy.

JO and JONATHAN, you took this sweet little dog into your home and your hearts and you made her whole again, her life complete because she had all the love in the world and everything she could have wished for, albeit for a short time. Harley had your unconditional love and unwavering devotion. The photos you sent were so heart warming - and she had the widest, beaming Staffie smile ever and a twinkle in her eyes. The power of love does amazing things and you both worked wonders for Harley. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for giving her all the love in the world until it was time for her journey across the Rainbow Bridge. No one could have done more for her.

HARLEY, Holly Hedge give their solemn promise to always be there for animals in need of help, and to love and care for them until their forever home comes along. RIP knowing, we will keep this promise to you and to each and every precious rescue who passes through our gates.

From Jo and Jonathan:
We would like people to share and promise that if they see animals in need or in danger, they would report it. What we know is we took a lovely sweet dog that had been lovingly cared for by Pauline and you all gave Harley a chance.

Harley was given a chance to live and love by Holly Hedge which we will be eternally grateful for the honour and pleasure of having Harley for the time we had with her. We fell in love with a broken girl with an old spinal injury and due to her injuries was completely incontinent but she showed us spirit, strength and soul. Harley learned to walk, as it be like a crab, play, as it be, we throw we fetch and love, the blow kisses the little licks and I’m going to snatch your hand off for treats love.

Harley was loved and will not be forgotten; she was sadly diagnosed with a brain tumour after all the cruelty she had suffered to be taken away from a family finally that truly loved her.

Please do not let animals like Harley suffer & spend most of their lives neglected and suffering, report it and make a promise to Harley.

Even though Harley was recently put to sleep we thought we would still like to tell this brave girl’s story. Harley had 5 months of being loved and cherished and we are privileged to have given her this happy time and so grateful to Jo and Jonathan for giving her such a wonderful few months in their loving care.

Hannah and Sam are so happy we have Chester in our lives. He has finally settled in to our home, and now loves playing catch the mouse, with his catnip toys and catching bubbles! He loves eating and has lots of food based games and he yeowls like mad for them. He still loves a good chat and belly kisses daily, and falling to sleep on our laps. His favourite time of day is breakfast and then lying in the sunshine, he then has his mad half an hour where he chases his shadow then comes for snuggles. His fur is growing back and he almost has a full coat. He is the most loving, friendly, snuggly cat and not a day goes by without us being thankful he is part of our family.

Thanks again for letting him be a part of our family and for looking after him so well!

Bryn (Was Bronson)
Bryn (Was Bronson)
Hello Holly Hedge

I wanted to drop you a quick note to let you know that I am doing SO well – I love it in the country – it is so peaceful and calm here and I rest and sleep quiet a lot – I also have my own garden and box of toys.

I’ve attached some pictures of me enjoying all sorts of stuff – I’ve got my own Boomer Ball and go on lots of peaceful and interesting walks – we sat in a quiet garden pub and I was very well behaved.

I’ve only been here just over 24 hours and I have settled right in – I think I will be very happy here in my furever home – I feel very loved by my family – and I am an extremely good boy.

I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

I love everyone.

B x

It's almost a year since we adopted Huxley (formerly Jacaboo) and we wanted to share a few photos from his first year with us.

Hux wasn't the dog we went to Holly Hedge to see. We'd already filled out an adoption form with all of our details, and he was recommended to us when we arrived. He stole our hearts straight away and we visited several times over the next week whilst the adoption process and home checks went through. The intention was for him to accompany me to work, so my workplace was also checked out to make sure it was suitable.

Hux's first few days and nights were a little unsettled. He was a very loving dog from the start, but we soon realised that he had been used to sleeping in his previous owners bed, and he was very fond of being carried around. It took us a week or two to get him used to sleeping in his own bed but we had to compromise by having him upstairs on the landing - he just didn't like being downstairs by himself. We also discovered that he was completely overwhelmed by the noise of traffic. This took us a few months to conquer and received many jokey comments from passers by when we were 'walking' him, as he often refused to budge so we had to carry him for a while and then try again. However, with a lot of determination, patience, persistence and encouragement, Hux conquered his fears and we never need to carry him now. He's even mastered bridges and lock-gates! We recently took him into Bristol city centre for the first time, expecting him to be overwhelmed by all the people and traffic noise, but he loved it!

Hux's favourite things are food (cubes of cheese whilst working on recall are a favourite), sitting on people's laps, going to the vets & stealing people's socks - sometimes off their feet if he can. He tried the latter when we took him on holiday for the first time last year. We were on a quiet beach in Cornwall and Hux spotted a walker removing his walking boots and long socks further along the beach. Well that was it, he was off like a shot and no amount of calling him and shouting 'cheese' at him could distract him from the joy of trying to remove a stranger's sock. Thankfully, he did come back and we beat a hasty retreat.

Hux has been an absolute joy and we can't imagine life without him. Because of him we are all that little bit fitter, both physically and mentally. We've discovered places around where we live that we wouldn't have explored without walking him. We've had conversations with so many strangers who will easily chat to you when you have a dog by your side. He's made us laugh with his antics and has been a great cuddler when needed. We're so grateful that he was recommended to us that day we visited Holly Hedge.

March 2016 - the first time Carl and I met Alani the clumsy, pointy-eared, fox-tailed staffyX who would eventually join our family in August. Whenever we visited the sanctuary (most weekends), Carl would make a beeline for Alani’s kennel where she would press herself against the door, wag her tail furiously, and smile her big staffy smile. We waited, every week sure we were going to see the reserved sign on her door, sure that the right family would meet and fall in love with her like we had. Little did we know that she’d already met the right family.
The first few days were both wonderful and extremely difficult and we felt overwhelmed and panicked when her first walk turned into a series of barks, growls and lunges at everything. I rang Holly Hedge in tears, terrified that we had taken on too much. Holly Hedge arranged for Rosie, animal behaviourist, to come and see Alani. She explained simple, effective methods we could use to keep her calmer. Following Rosie’s advice and learning to adapt to Alani’s needs has been tough at times. However, watching her begin to relax and gaining confidence has been the most amazing journey for all of us.
We’ve now had Alani 10 months, she doesn’t behave perfectly but is learning to play and socialise with other dogs. She’s been to the beach, climbed hills in Wales, and spent many days stretched out contentedly in front of the fire. She has so much love to give and believes herself to be the perfect lapdog.
Two months ago we couldn’t get a sitter and she came with us to visit my friend who has a beautiful daughter with autism. I was worried about this meeting, almost cancelling it because of Alani’s sheer size, strength and clumsiness. But Alani was patient and gentle, placing her paw softly on the seven year old’s hand and sitting by her side even though her head was being patted a little too hard .
Alani is challenging, BUT more importantly, Alani is affectionate, loving, hilarious, intelligent and beautiful. She had a bad start to life and then spent a long time in kennels, as many staffies/staffy crosses sadly do. We intend to give her the most amazing forever home. We want to encourage everyone considering getting a dog to visit a rescue, not a breeder, and to consider a staffy. Just look at this irresistible smile…

We never meant to adopt her, but some things are just meant to be! This is Daisy. When we met, her name was Blaze and she was having a terrible time, having found herself at Holly Hedge. She’s a 9-year old Staffy who suffers with separation anxiety and she was really not coping well with being in kennels. She cried constantly. We didn’t go there to meet her. But when we met her, she was a whirling dervish of energy and noises, snarfs and squeaks galore and she had the waggiest of tails! My husband had the hugest “I LOVE HER” grin I have ever seen. She was ours from that very moment!

We were not 100% sure our 3 cats would appreciate this black tazmanian-devil-whirlwind-of-a-dog, so we agreed we would foster her initially, just to make sure everything worked out. Thankfully, after a month or so, everything settled down. As you can see… someone has made herself very comfortable! She's such a dappy dog, so gentle with the cats now and a lot less needy than she was! And a lot less farty too, thankfully!! Although we can definitely tell when she’s nervous!! ? She still bombs about like a loon, but is mostly chilled out and calm or demanding belly rubs. OMG, she LOVES belly rubs... There are never enough! She's such a vocal girl, making gremlin noises, snarfing about, snorting and snoring and we only really worry when she's quiet (as that seems to mean she's sneakily eating cat poo.... What a grim beast! ?). She still hates it if we go out though, but she’s so good whilst we are out, and she gets so excited when we come home she steals our shoes!!!! She's definitely a perfect fit for our weird little family!

Katniss came to live with us in November of 2015, after I had built a bond with her during my cat cuddling shifts. My heart went out to her, she had been overlooked for so long and just needed someone with understanding to take her on.
I went off to Australia and Holly Hedge kindly agreed for my partner, Dave, to foster Katniss with us adopting her soon after. It did not take long for her to settle in.
She spent a couple of days hiding, only emerging from behind the sofa to eat or go to the toilet, but after 4 days she ended up on Dave’s lap looking for fuss.
Katniss always had a habit of lashing out with her razor sharp claws when she heard something she didn’t like or if you moved too quickly. It has been a long haul to get her to the stage of letting us pick her up and fuss her without risk of her scratching and now she can be an absolute Angel!
We have moved to a house in a quiet village. She has a cat flap and comes and goes through the day but mostly just sits on the fence catching the sun whenever possible. When she is not outside she is keeping the end of our bed warm.
Katniss loves to play, particularly after her dinner where she thunders backwards and forwards at the top of our stairs chasing her favourite green ball or kicking her Kong Kickaroo!
We are so pleased to have Katniss. She has settled into home life with us and proves even the difficult ones deserve a chance. We wouldn’t swap her for the world!

In memory of Jackson who passed away on 9th November 2016 who was very much loved and whose wonderful owners felt very lucky to have had him.
R.I.P. beautiful boy.
This is the story Jackson wrote for us with the help of 12 year old Minnie:
Hi my name is Jackson. I am a 14 year old Labrador and this is my story.
I was found wandering in Basingstoke 3 days before Christmas 2014 I don't know why I was lost in the world with no one to love me but that I was. Basingstoke dog pound found me and took me in. I went to see the vet there. I was so old and thin that they said there was no hope for me...
Holly Hedge heard about me and gave me a second chance. They were so kind to me because they sent me straight to a foster home where I was loved back to health. It was very confusing for me because the foster home I went to had two dogs there both called Millie.
6 days before Easter Sunday I was adopted out to a kind and loving, forever family. They always give me what ever I need. I love going camping with my family because they always go every where with me.
I am so grateful for every thing Holly Hedge has done for me and the foster family for helping me to get back to health. My family would have not have had me with out them. Even though I am old I still love walks and playing with my rope toy. Thank you again Holly Hedge.