Blue Cross blog
Victoria and Albert’s journey of lovePosted on 21 Sep 2012
When puppies Victoria and Albert were born by emergency caesarean their future looked bleak. Could Blue Cross help them to survive against the odds? Blue Cross editor Natasha Kleanthous paid a visit to the Blue Cross Victoria animal hospital to find out.
Weighing just a few ounces, rejected by their mum and left fighting for their tiny little lives, Victoria and Albert had one of the worst starts to life possible. Their siblings had been too weak to survive and the prognosis for the two remaining puppies wasn’t good at all. We could only hope that they would find the strength to pull through and survive against the odds.
Victoria and Albert started life at our Victoria animal hospital after their poorly mum was rushed to hospital needing an emergency caesarean. From a litter of seven, only two puppies made it past the first few days.
The pups were deteriorating and they needed round the clock care, which is when their owner decided to give them to Blue Cross so they could have the best chance of a future. For the first, critical weeks of their lives we nursed them day and night and gradually they began to grow stronger. The worst was over for the puppies but their Blue Cross journey was only just beginning.
Once they were well enough to leave hospital the pups, now known as Victoria and Albert, needed somewhere to stay where they could get lots of love, care and attention until they were old enough to be rehomed.
They were collected by one of our regional fostering managers, Kellie Brooks, who looked after the puppies for 10 days until we could find a longer term foster home for them with one of our dedicated volunteers. She fed them every two hours and gradually started to wean them on to special food. Soon it was time for our volunteer foster carer Maggie Burton to step in.
Victoria and Albert are the first Blue Cross pets that Maggie, from Carterton, Oxfordshire, has taken in. She started fostering because she loves dogs and wanted them in her life but, after losing her own elderly dog in 2010, she didn’t want to get another pet permanently.
At the tender age of four weeks old Victoria and Albert were warmly welcomed into Maggie and her husband’s home. And, despite a few sleepless nights at the beginning, they were excellent house guests. Maggie says: “They were lovely little pups and, although looking after such young animals was hard work, it was delightful to watch them grow. Every day there was something new to remark upon and they seemed to develop so quickly.
“They both had their own little personalities. Victoria was the explorer and Albert was more reserved. But then they seemed to switch and Albert began to grow in confidence.”
Reign-ing them in!
Our behaviour team was on hand to give advice as the puppies grew up and by the time Victoria and Albert were two months old their traumatic past had become a distant memory and they had blossomed into typical healthy, inquisitive and cheeky pups. It was time to find them loving new homes.
To avoid the upheaval of bringing the puppies into a kennel environment, staff at our Burford rehoming centre set about finding them new families to go to through our Home Direct scheme. This meant that the puppies would go through the same assessment process as any other Blue Cross pet but they would be rehomed directly from their foster home, freeing up spaces at our centre for pets that had no other choice, like stray or abandoned animals.
For Maggie, it meant saying goodbye. But the great thing for her was to know that the puppies were going to happy homes. She says: “I spent a lot of time with them and it was sad to see them go, but we know there’ll be another pet along soon who needs our help too. That’s the thing about fostering.”
Victoria's home is fit for a queen
Victoria, now called Stellar, has already become a local celebrity in her new neighbourhood after being rehomed by Julie Collett and her family. Julie can’t take the adorable pup out for a walk without being stopped by people wanting to say hello. But her new big brother, Labrador Timmy, is on hand to step in if she starts getting a bit too big for her boots.
Julie says: “Stellar loves to cuddle up to Timmy but she’s very playful and if she starts getting too persistent he’ll soon put her in her place. She adores him and when we go out for walks she scampers after him trying to keep up. He definitely gives her confidence when we’re out.”
Julie adds: “Stellar’s a real people dog and you can tell she was hand reared. She’s absolutely delightful and she loves sitting in the garden and listening to the birds. Having a puppy is very hard work but she’s more than worth it.”
Albert is family's crowning glory
Albert’s new home is with Jessica Dillon, her partner Peter and their two children Evan, nine, and Mya, 11. Now known as Alfie, he’s having a great time getting to know his family.
Jessica says: “I’d seen Alfie’s picture on the Blue Cross website and when we went to Maggie’s house to meet him we thought he was absolutely lovely. We were so excited when we took him home and he’s settled in brilliantly.
“We’ve had a dog before but never a puppy and it’s like having a baby! But he’s getting on really well and he’s a very cute and confident puppy who loves other dogs and really enjoys meeting new people.”
Could you foster a Blue Cross pet?
- Blue Cross needs volunteers to look after needy pets in their own home until they’re ready to find permanent families. You could be doing anything from helping to hand rear a litter of puppies to caring for a cat recuperating from an operation or offering a break to a pet who’s not coping well in kennels.
- Visit our volunteering section to find out more about volunteering as a Blue Cross foster carer – or call us on 0300 777 1897.
Victoria and Albert’s story is one of the many pet stories in the Autumn 2012 edition of Blueprint magazine. You can read the full Blueprint magazine here.