Adopting Spirit

We first came across 8 Below when working as volunteers for a GSD rescue. We were working with Bruce, a Husky/GSD and a long-term kennel dog with a few issues. The husky breed was new to us and we wanted to find out more about Bruce’s husky side to know how best to work with him.

Finding 8 Below was invaluable for help and, although Bruce wasn’t an 8 Below dog, the rescue team were indirectly involved in him finding his forever home – with us. Being in North Norfolk we’re not close enough to give hands-on help with the 8 Below team but we have supported the rescue from afar ever since, donating/fundraising when we can and carrying out the odd home check if one has come up in our area. Fast forward 7 years and we sadly lost Bruce after a 2 ½ year battle with Degenerative Myelopathy. We knew we would rescue again as we’ve always had more than 1 dog (all rescues) and our remaining boy, Hugo, was lonely but, we didn’t expect it to happen quite so quickly.

2 days after we lost Bruce, I called our vets to pick up his ashes. When I got home, I placed his casket on the table, made a cup of tea, sat down & fired up my laptop to do some work but first off, a quick check on FB to give me a minute to ‘collect’ myself. As my newsfeed came up the first item was a picture Jade had posted of Erin after visiting the groomers. Her big brown eyes stared out of her white face at me and I felt there & then that she was our dog. Even her name, the same as our niece, was screaming at me to home her, but it was way too soon. After throwing it backwards & forwards in my mind for a day I messaged Jade to find out a bit more about her and, more importantly, if she would get on with our remaining boy Hugo – a huge, slightly loopy, GSD/Galgo. Part of me was hoping Jade would say no, end of turmoil, but she felt a big brother was just what Erin needed. After long chats and a few days, Ants & I decided Erin was coming home. Fortunately, as long term supporters of the rescue and with Bruce’s story being very public via his FB page, being accepted to adopt wasn’t a problem for us and, with already having 2 prey driven jumpers, our home & garden was already set up for a Husky. Leeds is a 4-hour drive for us though so, with work commitments, we wouldn’t be able to collect Erin for around 3 weeks.

Unfortunately, while waiting in kennels, Erin began to stress and managed to damage her cruciate. Jade contacted us with the news, was completely open & honest about the situation, and said she totally understood if we changed her mind about homing her. We knew a cruciate fix would put a huge strain on any rescue’s finances and Bruce has left us with endless physio equipment, our own hydro pool and even a set of dog wheels. It all seemed to just confirm to us that Erin was meant to be our dog. It wasn’t going to be cheap, but what we lose in money we gain in our hearts. We decided then her name was meant to be Spirit. Due to the coronavirus situation Ants & I had to close both our businesses (a coach company and a dance school) which meant we could bring forward Spirit’s collection a few days – although a monetary blow for us, it was a fortunate occurrence for Spirit as it turned out as ‘lock-down’ was announced the day after we picked her up and she may have been stuck in kennels indefinitely.

Hugo & Spirit were fine on meeting. We couldn’t do an involved meet & greet due to her injury, but both were relaxed on meeting, had a short potter together and neither really bothered by the whole thing, which was great news as they then had 4 hours in the car together to get home. They hit it off straight away at home and are very relaxed in each other’s company, though stopping them from trying to play while her leg is damaged isn’t easy! She’s been with us 2 weeks now and Spirit lives up to her name having so much zest for life. She desperately wants to do everything and be everywhere and in an ideal world we would have taken her on lots of good long hikes around our local (very rural) area to tire her both mentally & physically but, due to her cruciate damage, she is only allowed 10-15min walks and with the lock-down rules we can’t put her in the car to take her anywhere different so, we are trying to use her physio exercises & mental games to disperse some of that pent up energy. Due to the situation, her cruciate surgery is delayed indefinitely but Bruce’s animal physio has given us loads of information & exercises we can do with her in the meantime to strengthen the muscles around the stifle joint.

Spirit also has big issues with confinement (she wrecked the kennel at our vets when in for x-rays) and has a little bit of separation anxiety, so we are using the extended time period we all have at home to work on changing her emotional response to a crate/kennel and to extend her ‘solitary ’ time so hopefully, she will be better placed to cope at the vets when the time comes for her surgery. For us, the whole adoption process was easy, though we have been volunteers within Rescue for around 8 years and Spirit is our 6th rescue dog, so we understand how things work. The paperwork was completed quickly & easily on pick-up and Spirit’s microchip had been swapped over before we’d finished the journey home. The following day we had a follow-up call from a member of the team to check everything was ok and to see if we needed any support. From my experience with various rescues, the Team at 8 Below are fantastic. They do an incredible job in the limited time most of them have as volunteers, with jobs, lives and dogs of their own to look after. If looking to adopt, be honest with yourself and the rescue team as to your knowledge of, and suitability for, the breed as it will lead to a better match with an individual dog and less of a chance of things going wrong. The 8 Below Team spend time with & know their dogs, so trust their judgement if they say they don’t think a match will work.

A dog that lands itself with 8 Below is a very lucky dog and judging by the lack of ‘bounce backs’ I’ve seen over 7 years, the Team do a great job in getting things right. I think Spirit will agree.