Hello. I have been waiting for the right time to tell this story, it's not going to be easy, but I'll try. I met a little dog about six years ago, his owners moved into a house up the street and I was walking past one day. There was no fencing around the back garden and there is a public path which runs between the houses there. The woman and her daughter and the little dog were out on the back garden. he came running towards me with his tail wagging, such a cute little face. I tried to engage them in conversation while fussing the dog, trying to make them feel welcome, and explaining that I walk dogs for people and would be happy to help out with walking their dog. They said I could, but the conversation was stilted, I felt they didn't really want to engage with me, I put it down to them being shy in a new neighbourhood. Maybe when they had made a few more contacts they would discover that this was a friendly place to live.
When I had a spare hour or two, or when I had another dog to take out, I went and knocked the door to ask if I could take Rocky out. Seemed sensible to take two dogs at the same time. The first few times the front door opened and I was given permission, but then when I went the next time, the front window opened by a couple of inches and I was told, yes I could take him out. After that they stopped answering the door or opening the window. I felt they weren't bothered one way or another, so I kept taking him out. He was always in a shed in the garden.
Not long after that they got some workmen to put a high wooden fence up, completely enclosing the back garden, access being through a door at the side of the house. Now the little dog was trapped, he couldn't see out, and no one could see him, apart from through one inch gaps between the boards. By this time I had noticed that he was always in the garden, day and night, with only a tumbledown shed to sleep in. It was also obvious that they hardly ever took him for a walk. I felt so sorry for him, it was like he was in a prison.
After they stopped answering the door to me I carried on taking him for walks, the gate wasn't locked so I assumed it was ok, they saw me coming and going. It was very strange to be taking someone's dog out when they didn't want to speak to me, but after a time I noticed that they weren't speaking to anyone else either, so maybe it wasn't just me they didn't like. They went back and forth in the car on the school run, the daughter was a teenager, but it was very rare to see them walk in the village. I did see them on the hills one day, a place where all dog walkers go. I had Rocky and another dog and was chatting to someone else with their dogs. I tried chatting to them and introduced them to my friend, but they weren't interested and walked on.
This set up carried on for a long time and I was becoming increasingly worried about Rocky being left on his own almost 24/7. I did what I could with giving him walks, and even taking him back home to give him a bowl of food. He ate it like he was very hungry. I had access to his garden through the side gate. They didn't put a lock on it, but I was always worried that they would get fed up with me and lock it to keep me out. They knew I was coming and going, but it was never locked. I always acknowledged them on the rare occasions when I did see them, either with a wave or a 'hello', wanting to not upset them so I could carry on walking Rocky.
The garden was like a jungle by the way, they never did any gardening, so the place must have been covered in his poo. He had access to his shed through a cat flap, basically a hole cut into the wood at ground level, next to the door, and covered with a piece of lino which he pushed to get in and out. The shed was full of rubbish, he didn't have a bed to sleep on, just piles of newspaper. The rain was getting in, everything was damp, and eventually the wind blew the window in. It's a wonder it didn't land on him. The mother was in the back garden one day when I went for him. I offered to repair the shed, said I had a piece of glass that would fit the window. I said I have a small cupboard which would make a dry place for his bed. All she said was, 'you don't have to do that', and, 'he needs fresh air'.
By now I was going more often, because of the appalling conditions he was living in, I noticed what food he had and how often it was replenished. There was a large plastic biscuit box with dried food in it, and a water bowl. Often when I went the water bowl was empty, and sometimes he hadn't touched the biscuits. The rain got in and the biscuits got wet and went mouldy, so proof that no one was going in to check. I found the shed crawling with slugs when it was wet and warm. They were in his food and water. I left one in his water bowl to see if they had moved it and refilled with fresh water. After four days it was still there, so I took a bottle of water and changed it.
I noticed that Rocky was occasionally limping on his front paw, and he had a red sore on his hind leg that was irritating him. I took him to my vet, and she diagnosed arthritis, and gave me some cream for the sore spot. After about a week it cleared up. I doubt it would have got treated if I hadn't seen it.
I took photo's because by this time I was thinking of making a report to the RSPCA. I also kept a diary of the times I visited, what I found, and the weather conditions. They hardly ever had him in the house, he was outside throughout the cold winter. The check cushion in the picture was one I made ages ago. Up till then he was sleeping on a plastic sled and newspaper. There was a lawnmower which was never used. One day it smelled very strongly of petrol, she had been tackling the garden with a strimmer. I feared for his safety.
I was so angry that this little dog had to endure living in a dump with not much human interaction apart from the times I cared for him, it all came to a head in September 2012. They went out for several days, not the first time. I can see the house, I knew when the car was gone, so I brought him to my house. All they had done was to fill his food box to the brim with dried food and left him to it. They probably knew I would look after him, but why they couldn't ask me, I don't know. The car came back and I wondered how long it would be before they came to my door to ask for him back.
I rang the RSPCA to ask for help. I wanted them to go and see the people and check on Rocky, and tell them that his living conditions weren't acceptable. I went into great detail on the phone but they didn't want to know. I said I had him here with me, they said I should take him back. They only act on animals that are obviously malnourished or neglected or have been cruelly treated. Rocky wasn't malnourished because I had been feeding him. He was certainly neglected which I consider is a form of cruelty.
I waited and waited, and eventually the mother came in December and took him back. Hardly any words passed between us, all she said was, 'he's not your dog'. I was devastated. I wrote about it here and was criticized for my actions by one or two readers, which annoyed me because no one knew the whole story except me. There were parts I couldn't write about because I was never sure that they, mother and daughter, were not reading my blog. I was on tenderhooks all the time. Throughout the whole time I have known Rocky, before he came to live here and after, I have been worried that they would fall out with me big time and take him back.
I was in their bad books so I kept a low profile for a while, only going at night when I knew they would not be coming out of the house. I took treats for him, called his name through the fence and he would poke his nose out of the cat flap. I pushed dog treats and sausages through the gaps and he scoffed them. I didn't dare go into the garden for fear of being caught. It was heartbreaking and bloody annoying to think that they were tucked up in their warm house and this little dog was outside in the freezing cold winter.
In the January I plucked up courage to knock on their door. They could tell me to bog off, it was a chance I had to take, for Rocky's sake. Mother opened it a few inches. I asked if she was still mad with me, or could I take Rocky out again. She appeared to be ok with that, maybe I took her by surprise. She said I could take him out.
So the whole thing started again. Me taking him out for walks and putting him back. I didn't write here about what was going on, because I didn't want a barrage of questions, and I didn't want to inflame the situation between me and them, in case they had found my blog.
So, now I had permission to walk Rocky, and we were regularly seen around the village. I skirted around the questions, one or two knew what had happened but there was no need for everyone to know. There was one incident which I will recall here. I got a phone call one day from my friend, he was in the club, and someone had brought Rocky in saying they had found him wandering on the hills by himself. They were asking if anyone knew who owned him. Of course my friend said yes, and I went to collect him. It was a mystery how he was that far from home, more than half a mile away. There was no sign of mother and daughter looking for him. I kept him for five days and took him back. A month or two later daughter happened to be outside their back door when I went for him. I said, that was a bit strange when he was found up on the hills, I wonder how he got there. She answered, 'he used to live on a farm and often went walkabout', she seemed to brush it off as not important. I have my theory. By this time it was obvious to me that they didn't want to care for him. He couldn't have found his way up there by himself.
It got round to winter again, and I thought of a new routine. Not only would I take him for a walk during the daytime, but I would also go later on at night, when they were in bed, and bring him back to my house for the night, taking him back in the morning while they were on the school run. I knew they weren't checking on him very often so what was the point of him staying in that shed overnight.
That's how it went on for ages, it got to the point where he didn't want to go back there. It was heartbreaking for both of us but that's how it had to be for a while. I had him for as long as I dare, and made a point of taking him back and checking on his bed and food, so if they looked out of the window they would see me.
Then it came to the following winter, and I thought's what's the point of taking him back, by now I was sure they hadn't the slightest bit of interest in him. They knew what I was doing, yet still didn't want to speak to me. Again it was January, and freezing cold. I took him out and didn't take him back. This time I put a note through their door asking if it was ok for him to stay with me while the weather was cold, he needs to be indoors because his arthritis was bothering him. They didn't answer. I got some medication for him from the vet for his arthritis.
I kept on putting notes through their door every two or three weeks, up until Easter, giving them updates, telling them how he was, and asking them to tell me when they wanted me to bring him back. They never did reply, so I stopped posting them. The weeks turned into months, and turned into years. I had no communication from them at all. I was constantly worried that they might come and ask for him back at any time. This is going to be hard to believe but they actually saw us in the street a few times, we passed within feet of each other, and they looked the other way, totally ignoring us.
This is when I started writing about him again, when I was almost sure that they wouldn't want him back. People asked me if they had allowed him to live with me, a question I could not truthfully answer until now. As they haven't spoken to me or contacted me for almost four years, so I assumed they did not care about him.
My friends here in the village tell me that Rocky wouldn't have lived as long as he has in those conditions if I hadn't taken him out, and I tend to agree with them. I don't care what anyone thinks of me, I could not ignore that little dog, I couldn't leave him. He was on my mind every minute of the day, I had to do something for him, he deserved better. The only regrets I have is that I didn't remove him sooner. People who don't look after their pets make me so angry.
I miss Rocky every day, I don't think the pain will ever go away. I am now feeling emotionally drained, I hope you don't mind if I have a day off tomorrow.
Thanks for popping in.
Roses (and others) everywhere
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