Watching them snuggle up together and relax in their new home, it’s hard to believe these were the same two sad and terrified dogs that came to Blue Cross six months ago.
Doris and Edna were rescued from a house of 12 dogs and none of them are thought to have ever been walked or even let outside. Doris, an 11-year-old bichon frise, has given birth to multiple litters, while shih tzu Edna, aged seven, has had at least one.
When the troubled girls arrived at our Burford rehoming centre they were frightened even to step outdoors – and so had to be carried to a paddock for their early doses of fresh air.
Nervous and shut down, our team had to work hard to bring these two out of their shells as well as house train them and teach them basic skills like how to walk on a lead.
Doris was the more petrified of the two. On their first day with us she was placed in a separate kennel to Edna, who was slightly more confident, but our team soon realised they needed each other if they were to overcome their fears.
But rehoming them as a pair was a challenge – while outgoing Edna had plenty of interest, poor Doris’s anxiety and lack of trust for new people held her back.
That was until Alex McCormick came along. And, after four months in our care, the adorable pair went off to live with her in Warwickshire where they couldn’t be any happier.
Not only do they now know what love is, they are also getting to enjoy the sights and sounds of the outside world which is all so new to them as well.
Alex said: “I lost my other dog, Rose, in July last year. At the time, I didn’t think for a second that I was ever going to get another one.
“But I struggled not having a dog, and so I started looking and I thought that I might want two, as I felt that sometimes that Rose was a little bit lonely. And then I saw these little ragamuffins.
“I went to meet them a couple of times. And then the first week I had them, they just settled and started to adjust quite quickly. They know they are comfortable and safe, and that’s crucial.
“I noticed that when I was walking them – as they’d never really been waked before – they didn’t like it in the morning at school times with all the children around. I tried it a couple of times but they struggled, particularly Doris. So I walk them a little later now.
They're so funny - they do make me laugh. They're such characters. I can't imagine life without them now." Alex McCormick
“But they’re just growing and growing in confidence all the time. The things like the dustbin lorry - they were scared of that at first, but are getting used to it now.
“They come everywhere with me, and we’re really looking forward to some really nice long days out and about together when the weather is a bit nicer.”
While they are unrecognisable from the dogs they were a few months back, they still have lots to learn. “Because of what they have been through, they don’t understand they have to go out of the back door in the morning to go to the toilet. I still have to take them out myself. We’re working on the morning part of it,” said Alex.
Although, she explained that they had been quick to develop their own little routines.
“In the morning, they are behind the gate to the living room. And when I open it Edna, of course, comes running in here at 90 mph and gets out all of her teddies and wants to play with them.
“Then Doris has got to get to her day bed straight away and lies on her back and barks until she has a tummy tickle.
“They are so funny, they really do make me smile – they are such characters. I can’t imagine my life without them now. They’re huge company and their love is unconditional. They’re just so gentle. They’ve been an absolute delight, just sheer joy.
“They really look out for one another, all of the time. They are always reassuring each other. Edna definitely is much more mentally strong out of the two. But they work so well together.”
Despite everything they have been through, these sweet girls look so content now.
“I thought it would take a long time for them to learn how to trust me, but they’ve just slotted right in,” said Alex. “And I think that has a lot to do with Blue Cross, they have done a really good job of integrating them back into a home environment such as this.”
Indeed, it was a long and slow process to get Doris and Edna to this stage, and one which took lots of dedication from the team at our Burford rehoming centre.
Animal Welfare Assistant Leanne Fadden said: “‘They were frightened to death when they came to us. They were just so scared. They spent a week basically living inside the kennels and wouldn’t come out, as we don’t think they had been let outside in their previous home. They had certainly never been walked.
“We then decided to pick them up and take them to our paddock. That’s not something we would normally do but they literally had the best time playing with a ball and things.
“So that’s how we got them used to it all - we would carry them each day to the paddock to begin with and when they knew they had a destination to get to, that’s how we were eventually able to get them walking on a lead. It was all about gentle exposure to everything.”
Of the dogs’ friendship, Leanne said: “We initially put them in kennels opposite each other as we weren’t sure if they were bonded, as the dogs had been kept in different groups around the house.
“But while Edna was okay, Doris was terrified in a corner so we had to use Edna to encourage her to come out, and that’s when we realised we had to rehome them together.
“As a pair, they grew in confidence. Doris would go where Edna did, so we had to keep them together. We could have rehomed Edna within weeks but it would have taken a lot longer with Doris as she was so nervous. They absolutely doted on each other, so we couldn’t separate them.”
Once they had mastered some basic training, Leanne was able to take the dogs into foster care for two months to help them progress further.
Leanne said: “It’s amazing, we’re absolutely thrilled to hear they’re doing so well, really pleased they have settled in so quickly.”
Alex added: "Their confidence is growing by the day, they love their walks. Edna would stay out all day if she could and Doris has become much braver with all the sounds and sights she experiences daily. I can't believe I've only had them for three months. It feels like they've been with me forever."