For those of you who have not heard, Chester, the last of four dogs who were surrendered to us 2˝ years ago, has died.
It is tragic that Chester ended his days as a rescue dog. The abuse that we have received over this is something else. It is the last straw that has resulted in us shutting down Big Dog Rescue for good. After almost twenty years in rescue, it is heartbreaking that this is how it ends.
For those who don’t know about Chester, let us start by saying, he was an old dog. His exact age is unknown, but he was probably 13 – 15 years old, possibly older. He and three other dogs came to us for emergency boarding at Christmas time, over 2 years ago. Unfortunately, due to a change in the previous owner’s circumstances, he was unable to have them back, so he surrendered them to us.
It took a long time, but we finally managed to rehome two of them, Kaiser and Simba. However, Karma and Chester remained in care, never being picked for adoption. Despite numerous pleas, we never received any suitable enquiries for them. There were a few that were not suitable. For instance, homes with cats, multiple other dogs, etc. Unfortunately, Chester was not great with other dogs and we had decided that, until he greatly improved, it would be just setting him up for failure.
On April 25th we had two enquiries, one for Karma and one for Chester. As it happened, both families arrived at about the same time, on the same day.
The lady who came for Karma loved her immediately and decided to come back last Saturday, 12th May to adopt her.
Whilst the family for Chester was very keen, they decided against adopting him at that time due to some aggression between him and their own dog. However, the daughter was very keen to try again when she returned from an overseas trip. We had planned to have a behaviourist present to assist with ironing out the aggression when they next met. Sadly, we never got the chance.
Chester seemed to be ageing, but still appeared to be in reasonable health. He was eating less and less, looked more grey around his face, and his coat was no longer as glossy. But, he was not acting like he was ill. He would still come running out of his kennel in the mornings, barking happily and jumping around the yard whilst he waited for his food.
After Karma was picked up, about 7am last Saturday morning, Chester was different. He was lethargic and seemed depressed. I assumed it was because it was cold (it was a bitterly cold and windy day) and because Karma had already departed. I made sure that he had extra blankets, threw another heated wheat pack in the microwave for him and gave him lots of extra cuddles.
He refused to eat, but was drinking large amounts of water, which was going through him rapidly. I was fairly sure then that his kidneys were shutting down and that he would not last much longer. It was time to make a decision. If we took him to the vet that day, I knew that they would recommend ending his life. He was too old to recover and, prolonging his life would not give him any great joy.
Mina posted a message on our Facebook page to say he was nearing his end.
Chester loved lying in the sun. He would do it all day, basking until the sun had set. I checked the weather report and decided that Tuesday would be a good day to do it. Saturday and Sunday were miserable. Monday was looking a bit better, but not great. Tuesday was forecast to be a sunny day. We would spend the morning with him, allowing him to enjoy the sun in one of our play yards. Then, before it grew cold again, we would have a mobile vet come and release him. That was the plan.
In the meantime, I spent as much time with Chester as I could, making sure he was warm and comfortable. When I finished working in the kennels, we cuddled together for about half an hour each night, his head resting on my chest, me just talking to him and caressing his gaunt frame. I was in tears each time I left him, unsure whether we should wait for that sunny day.
When Tuesday did arrive, sunny and beautiful, I was happy to see that Chester was out in the sun, soaking it up like he always did. He was unsteady on his feet, but he raised his head and gave me a more subdued version of his usual bark. I knew then that we had done the right thing, that it was right to wait the extra couple of days.
I came up to the top of our property as there was a person bringing in two dogs for boarding. There were also two people who had come for Chester. One, a person we knew from having recently adopted a dog from us. The other, her “friend” who had apparently lost her own dog recently and wanted to give an old dog, a comfortable life in his last few hours / days.
I walked Chester up to the top of the property where the people were waiting.
We were thrilled that Chester would have a chance at ending his days in a real home. So much so that we allowed them to take him on the spot, no paperwork or anything formal. They were apparently in a rush and I was busy with the other dogs. After all, we thought we knew one of these people and trusted them. What harm could come from it. There was no doubt that Chester would not last much longer and any paperwork would have just reduced the amount of time he had to enjoy. Too little, too late perhaps, but still something that he should have had long before.
I did not even get a chance to say goodbye.
It was only a few hours later that Mina received an abusive text message from the lady who had brought her “friend” for Chester.This is how Chester spent the last hours of his life. Inside a loving home, warm and showered with affection. Chester is now in heaven! And you are responsible! Chester should have been handed to people that could love and care for him, long before it came to this. If you do not have sufficient funding for your furkids, please don't put your hand up to take in more. XXX (the dog she adopted from us) has a wonderful life now! Rescue's do not put dogs in cold kennels and shove them down the back out of sight. But I guess if they are out of sight that are out of mind? I feel very sad for the innocent animals that you have so flippantly put your hand up for, knowing you do not have the know how or money to provide the essential care and treatment they so very deserve. XXX is a beautiful boy who suffered in silence night after night at your mercy. To even imagine him kennelled and never able to play or meet new friends makes me cry. Shame on you! We were horrified. But, this was just the beginning. Her associates then decided to slam us on our own Facebook page. Sickened by the distorted truths and blatant lies, we decided that we have had enough. We shut down our Facebook page, and when I had the chance, I was going to shut down our website. We have had enough of rescue and the crap that people throw at us. We have been in this for the dogs and have often gone without so that they can have food and be comfortable.
Contrary to the lies being propagated by these people, the dogs in our care are not kept in tiny, dark cages. Yes, they are kept in kennels. No, they are not in homes, but that does not mean that their lives are miserable.
Our kennels are spacious, with large exterior areas for them to enjoy the sun. They have clamshell pools in summer and cozy beds with blankets, coats & heated wheat packs in winter. They are out in large yards for about 4 hours each day, each receiving one-on-one attention during that time. Yes, they are locked in at night, with no light as there are flaps on their kennel doors to keep them warm.
They eat high quality dry food, mixed with variations of eggs, fresh mince, fish, vegetables, etc.
We work with behaviourists who work on any behavioural issues, as well as socialising them.
Chester did see a vet about the lump on his neck. Given his age, it was decided that surgery or treatment would neither prolong his life, nor benefit him. In fact, it would be cruel.
Yes, Chester was fed devon. In his final days, it was the only food I could get him to eat out of my hand. Nothing else appealed to him. Devon, he ate happily. No, it is not a good thing to feed a dog in large quantities. Given that his life was to end soon, was it wrong to feed him? I don’t think so. It made him happy.
We aren’t perfect. We never claimed to be. Maybe we were wrong to let Chester live those extra few days, but I don’t believe so. I think our mistake was in trusting people who came to us under false pretences and took Chester away so that he could die with strangers, inside on a bed, rather than with people who knew him, loved him and whom he loved in return. He was denied his final day in the sun.
To those who have been spreading these vicious lies about us, I give you fair warning. We know who you are and we are going to be taking legal action against you. Not only are you ruining our reputation as a rescue group, you are attacking our boarding business. By the way, the boarding business is run to support the rescue dogs, so you are hurting the few that we have remaining in care. Thanks for that.
By the way, we have not had time to post anything about this sooner as we have been too busy looking after the other dogs in our care. This is badly affecting my health, and Mina is on the verge of having a nervous breakdown. The bullying and defamation needs to end now. We are investigating this matter with Facebook and apparently, it is very much against the rules of Facebook. We will be talking to our solicitor and taking the strongest possible action against these people. You have been warned. Remove your lies and false allegations now or you will pay the price.
I know we have said it before, but this time we have finished with rescue. This time, there will be no changing our minds.
(formerly of Big Dog Rescue)