An inspirational dog, who was found unable to walk as a stray puppy 17 years ago, has been celebrated for her remarkable work in helping other rescue pets overcome their fears.
Sammy arrived at Blue Cross Southampton in 2003 after being abandoned in terrible pain in a supermarket carpark and needed urgent care at our Victoria animal hospital in London, where an X-ray revealed her spine was broken in two places.
She quickly stole the heart of Megan Baverstock, Supervisor at the rehoming centre, who fostered Sammy at home while she rested so that her spine could heal. She has lived with her ever since.
And despite living with lifelong mobility issues caused by her injuries, Sammy has helped Megan to care for and nurture countless other pets in need in foster care.
Not only has her work included helping dogs and puppies, but also cats, kittens and even rabbits, giving them all much-needed respite from kennels and, in many cases, building their confidence.
Megan said: “I’d say she has helped kittens the most. Because from being in the home with her and them learning to feel comfortable and confident around dogs, we have been able to easily place those kittens into homes with dogs. When I’ve taken in hand-rear kittens, Sammy has always liked the job of licking and cleaning them.”
Sammy’s foster friends have stayed for anything between one night to several months.
She currently shares her home with three other adopted Blue Cross rescues; this includes her best friend, Prim, who was a shell of the dog she is today when she - like Sammy - arrived at the centre as a sick and nervous stray puppy in 2018.
To recognise Sammy’s incredible contribution to Blue Cross, the Southampton centre threw her a special 17th birthday party in which she got to enjoy a handmade dog-friendly cake which she shared with some of her four-legged friends.
Ryan Neile, Head of Behaviour at Blue Cross, said: “In her younger days, Sammy would interact and socialise with many different types of dogs from small to large, but now in her twilight years, she is often called upon to help some of the more nervous, gentle dogs by pottering along with them at a steady pace.
“For vulnerable and displaced pets, that for many reasons find themselves without a home, a foster home can make a crucial difference. What can make an even greater difference is if that home has a friendly and sociable dog that can provide kind of help and support that humans can’t.
“Sammy’s amazing ability to read, interpret and respond to the subtle body language of other animals makes her the perfect foster friend when it comes to helping scared or nervous pets feel welcomed and safe.
“Like a good role model or coach, Sammy will show and teach other animals how to behave in the world and that things aren’t quite as scary as they seem. This special gift, however simple it may seem, can never be underestimated as a hugely important part of helping Blue Cross pets overcome fears, to socialise and learn new skills.”
Ryan added: “Thanks to special dogs like Sammy, we can help prepare the pets in our care for a bright and positive future in a caring home of their own.”