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Perfect match

Bonnie the collie smiles for the camera

Good things come to those who wait…

Best friends are hard to find, but not impossible - and in some cases, friendships are meant to be.

Mary Hammond scoured the websites of rescue organisations seeking her perfect match.  Having recently lost her beloved 17-year-old border collie, Jess, and having worked as a shepherd with the breed some years previously, Mary had her heart set on another. 

Black and white border collie Bonnie with her owner Mary
Bonnie is Mary's 'crackerjack dog'

A spaniel at Blue Cross caught Mary’s eye, and she considered giving a different breed a go. But when Lara Alford from our Southampton rehoming centre in Hampshire had a chat with Mary and her husband Mike, we realised that this particular spaniel wasn’t quite right for the family and another dog might be a better fit.

“I’ve had all kinds of dogs,” Mary said. “German shepherds, terriers, all kinds. When Lara explained that this spaniel was particularly springy and wasn’t suitable for us, I thought ‘well good, because I really want a collie!’”

A few days later, a young, nervous border collie arrived at our rehoming centre. She had come from a family home straight into a kennel environment, and the sudden change was a shock. Unbeknown to the timid collie, there was very likely a loving home already waiting for her.

Mary said: “Lara was absolutely wonderful. When she visited I had told her that a collie was what I was really after, and a few days later she phoned me and said she thought she had found our dog.”

Bonnie lies down in bed for a fuss

Always there

At the beginning of last year, a now-13-year-old Bonnie suffered a stroke and the Hammond family feared they might lose her. But against all the odds, she is back up on her feet and back to her favourite pastime of chasing balls, and it’s all thanks to the care of those who love her most. Arthritis is affecting her too, and her doting family have fashioned an extremely comfy double-bed stack to support her joints as she sleeps. 

I’ve loved all my dogs, I’ve had dozens. But this one, there’s something a bit special about her. Mary, Bonnie's owner
Mary and Bonnie play with a tennis ball
Mary used a tennis ball to distract Bonnie and help her cope with her nervousness around other dogs

Bonnie has had her family to rely on to get her physically and mentally fit since her very first day all those years ago, in what has become her forever home.

She arrived at her third home in five months nervous and anxious, tail between her legs; in fact, the Hammonds didn’t realise she had a curl in her tail for the first three weeks, until it rose from where she had hidden it away and began to wag.

First, Mary set about making sure Bonnie was able to find home a relaxing place to be. She says: “Bonnie was very hyper and had been obviously greatly loved, but had absolutely no boundaries." 

Poor Bonnie was nervous of other dogs and reacted by behaving in a way that she hoped would make them go away. Mary knew Bonnie had nothing to worry about and needed to help her dog understand this, so called Blue Cross for help with a coping strategy. When you rehome a dog from us, you’re not alone. You can call on us for support and advice for your pet’s lifetime. Each of our rehoming centres has a qualified team of animal welfare experts who are only too happy to help with training and behaviour plans.

“Lara said to distract her,” Mary explains. “So for about six months, three hours a day on our walks, I worked with her. And I discovered the wonderful thing that is a bum bag, for treats and tennis balls!

“Every time another dog came past, I’d get the ball out and she would totally focus on me. She would sit at my feet and let the dog go by, and now every time she sees another dog she is fine, and it’s all thanks to Lara.”

Bonnie peeps out from behind a tree

Crackerjack dog

Bonnie has always loved people and, typical of her breed, is terrific at responding to any task that is set. Now in her autumn years, Bonnie is hard of hearing but will watch Mary closely for hand signal commands.

In her younger days, Bonnie joined the active family for several-mile-long runs, and would even sprint ahead, looking back as if to say, “What’s taking you so long?”. Now her distances are far shorter and at a much slower pace, but she still enjoys chasing a ball and paddling in the sea at the idyllic beaches by her New Forest home, before an evening of snuggling up in front of the fire to watch a film with her family. This dog truly has fallen on her paws with owners who understand her totally. 

“I’ve loved all my dogs, I’ve had dozens,” adds Mary. “But this one, there’s something a bit special about her. If I had to put my finger on it, I’d say it’s her responsiveness. We’ve had always lovely-natured dogs, dogs that were great with the kids, and our last border collie was lovely.

"This one’s clever and responsive and wants to know how to please you; she reads your mind and anticipates you.”

The bond between Mary and Bonnie is obvious to all who see the pair together, even to strangers on holiday, as Mary’s husband, Mike, explains: “When we were on holiday a couple of months ago we got talking to another couple about dogs. The lady was talking about her dog, Mary was talking about Bonnie – swapping pictures – and she said her dad had told her years ago, ‘You’ll have a lot of dogs in your life, but you’ll really only have one crackerjack dog’. 

“Bonnie is Mary’s crackerjack dog.”

Bonnie closes her eyes and smiles with a blissful look on her face as Mary makes a fuss of her beloved dog

A little bit of fate

Blue Cross is a charity that cares for tens of thousands of sick, injured and homeless pets each and every year. Behind that number are thousands of families, each with their own stories to tell of love and companionship with the animals that share their homes.

We know how important pets are, they’re part of the family, and we couldn’t be happier than when the stars align and a perfect match is made.

“I said on my application form I wanted a four-year-old border collie, and they didn’t have any. And then she came in,” said Mary. 
“It was meant to be.”

At Blue Cross, we will try our hardest to find your perfect match. For us, the perfect home is different for each individual pet. Some cats will thrive in a home with young children to play with, whereas others would prefer a quiet and peaceful environment. Some dogs would prefer a home of their own, while others would be sad not to share a pad with a canine companion. Visit our rehoming pages to find your new best friend today.

— Page last updated 8/03/2017