I got the message just after 11am. We were in Cunningdale, we being Lilly my border collie and all round best friend and companion and the Gabster, my beautiful but unpredictable Romanian rescue dog ,that I had been fostering for ten weeks.
We had just finished playing fetch the sticks. The sticks in question were two green rubber toys that squeak.
The idea is that each dog chases and fetches their stick and brings it back to me, or in Lilly’s case at least within ten yards. She being a Collie believes that fetching and retrieving is something that lesser dogs like Labradors do, usually for food. Lilly likes to herd and of course chase, but bringing back is definitely on her own terms.
That is the theory.
Inevitably things don’t work out like this. For a start Lilly wants both sticks, (herding instinct?) and she, being nimbler and quicker quickly ends up with them. Gabby chases after the stick mean’t for her, falls over, gets herself tangled in the line and then, forgetting what she is doing on the ground in the first place, starts to try and chew her way through it.
Meanwhile Lilly has now taken the sticks to the top of a slope, and is trying to roll one of them downhill, ideally so that I can stand at the bottom of the slope and throw it back up to her. If successful this game can go on for hours. She sharpens her skills on the stairs in the house.
Gabby has given up chewing and seeing Lilly races up hill after her, and into her. Lilly reacts by growling and for a second or two there is a good chance that a fight will break out, but Gabby falls over again and things subside into a sort of peace.
Eventually I retrieve the sticks, put both dogs back on shorter leads and arrive back at the car.
And that is when I get the text.
The charity that brought Gabby over think they may have found her a “forever home”.
I stare at it and then stare out of the window. A thin rain has started to fall, and drip through the open window. Lilly is in the front and there is a commotion on the back seatas Gabby struggles to get up and tries to join us in the front.
In the end she settle for resting her head on my shoulder. She lets out a big sigh, and snuggles closer.
Its then I realise, with the help of a lump in my throat and some tears streaming down my cheeks that the big clumsy sweetheart has her forever home already. She is my dog, and I cannot let her down.
So now she is adopted and part of the family. Lilly isn’t happy but she will get used to it in time. Gabby is getting fatter and has found ways to eat Lilly’s food, and she still growls, cries and lunges at other dogs and some people. But she loves to lie on the sofa and to rest her head on my leg, or better still stretch full out when I get off it. There are challenges and battles ahead.
But she has her forever home now. She is safe.