When you see little Fred with his thick, preened coat in all its glory, it’s difficult to believe that only six months ago he had lost much of his fur due to appalling neglect.
Dumped like a piece of rubbish, the Pomeranian was thrown into a garden over a fence before finding himself in the dog pound, all alone and confused. He was underweight, struggling to see and suffering with a skin infection that had been left untreated for some time.
The seven-year-old arrived at Blue Cross soon after, and we suspect that he had been previously used as a stud dog before being discarded due to his deteriorating health, no longer able to make his so-called owner a profit.
But life couldn’t be more different for Fred now. His coat has now fully grown back and he looks as proud as punch as he poses for photos beside his doting new owners Andrew and Yvonne Hildred on our visit.
Road to recovery
Fred’s road to recovery, however, was a long one. He was left so shaken by his ordeal that the poor boy had to be carried through the doors of our Thirsk rehoming centre in North Yorkshire.
Rachael Myers, Animal Behaviour Coordinator, said: “We were told that he had been thrown over a garden fence, near a vet’s surgery, and someone found him the garden.
“When he arrived with us he was quite worried and we had to pick him up to get him into the building, but he was – and always has been – really good natured. He had just been badly neglected.
"Due to some stereotypical behaviour Fred was showing, and the fact he wasn't neutered, it's likely that he had been kept in a crate for long periods and used for breeding."
Fred, who was then called Red, was in such a pitiful state that our team initially thought he was suffering from a chronic skin condition which would potentially need treatment for the rest of his life.
“Fred was really scrawny and was suffering from lots of hair loss. He looked like a little porcupine! There was no fur on his tummy, legs or tail, and the remaining coat on his back end was really badly matted,” said Rachael.
But it was, in fact, an treatable infection that had been left to spiral out of control. And after weeks spent on antibiotics, steroids, twice-weekly medicated baths and plenty of TLC, his sore skin was cured permanently.
“Although it took us a long time to get Fred better, the condition would have started out relatively mild and could have been really easily treated at that stage. It’s so sad that he was left to deteriorate in this way,” said Rachael.
Sadly, Fred was also diagnosed with retinal degeneration which has led him to become partially blind – but it doesn’t hold him back.
And after five weeks in our care Fred was ready to set off for his fresh and happy start in life.
But not before a heartfelt farewell from the team at Thirsk, who had all grown incredibly attached to this special dog.
“Despite everything he had been through, Fred had such a perfect, wonderful nature. He didn’t need any behavioural training at all; we just needed to get him well medically. He spent a lot of time in the office as he was such a good boy. He would sit on our knees while we worked, everyone loved him. He was a dream.”
After visiting Fred at the centre twice, where they found him in his usual spot behind reception, Andrew and Yvonne took him home at the end of October last year.
Within weeks, his fur had started to grow back - so much so, that he soon needed a trip to the groomers.
“I nearly cried the first time he came out of there, he just looked so happy with himself!” said Yvonne.
Andrew said: “The fur started growing back from day one but it just went absolutely wild in the period leading up to Christmas and he got that ‘plume’. So far he’s been going every month to the groomers to keep it under control.
"When we first got him he had what looked like a rat’s tail and it had no hair on it at all, but now it’s like a puffy foam microphone!”
Andrew and Yvonne’s last dog, a golden retriever named Molly, passed away two-and-a-half years ago. The house felt empty and shortly afterwards they rehomed two cats – a mother and a daughter called Toffee and Fudge, also from Blue Cross.
When they decided that they were ready for another canine companion, they knew it needed to be a rescue dog.
But giving Fred the life he deserved after he had been through so much has been especially rewarding for them.
“Knowing what he’s been though makes having him even more rewarding. When we saw the picture of the state he was in when he arrived at the centre, I was heartbroken – the poor thing,” said Yvonne.
And Fred has not looked back since arriving at his new home in North Yorkshire.
Yvonne said: “We were worried he would have trouble settling in as he was so attached to everyone at the centre, but he just took to us and the home so quickly. The only thing he was frightened of was the stairs, because he can’t see where he’s going properly and has a tendency to trip and fall.”
“We initially had gates up everywhere but he has now got used to the steps down into the kitchen and has learnt to put out his paw to check his footing. He knows his way around the house well now, but we wouldn’t be able to let him go upstairs on his own,” Andrew explained.
Fred’s days are now spent lounging around on the sofa in between his feline friends and Andrew and Yvonne, and enjoying walks around the small, rural village he now calls his home. “He’s a creature of routine!” said Andrew.
Life simply could not be better for this once neglected boy, and having him around has completed his owners’ lives, too.
“He’s turned me into a soppy one!” joked Andrew. “Fred has softened Andrew especially”, said Yvonne. “He used to have me as the screensaver on his phone and now it’s Fred! But I used to have the cats and now it’s Fred.”
“He’s just got such a hold over us, he’s just lovely. We take him everywhere. We’ve got a caravan and so we’re looking forward to the holiday season so that we can take him away with us. We couldn’t be without him now, we love him so much.”