Stories

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Reva, Pronto & Daniela

Reva, Pronto & Daniela

Aaarghh, not again! Counting slowly to ten, breathing deeply, I’m absorbing the level of today’s destruction.

I didn’t think there was much left to destroy but it looks like I have to farewell yet another pillow, a pair of running shoes, a lone slipper and a couple of CD’s. It could have been worse, I guess, if I had not raced home after the monitoring company called to say my house alarm had gone off in zone 2, the lounge. The burglar sat amidst the destruction, wagging her tail, eyeing me up expectantly. One look at that happy and innocent face takes the wind out of my sails. It is impossible to stay angry at her.

Meet Reva, the Labrador - Border collie cross.

Until about 2 months ago, my life was normal and uneventful. I went to work each day, came home and took my Jack Russell Terrier, Pronto, for a walk in the local dog park. Then back home, cook dinner, watch a bit of telly and then off to bed, for it all to start again the next day. I had recently lost one of my dogs through post surgery complications and was still coming to terms with that, but I had been contemplating getting another friend for Pronto. I kept putting it off, reasoning that I can’t really afford to have another dog. On the other hand, seeing Pronto so unhappy being alone made me want to go out and get him a new playmate. I kept weighing up the pros and cons of adopting another dog but I simply could not make up my mind.

Then one sunny Saturday morning while I was walking up Mangere Mountain and Pronto was chasing rabbits, my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognise the number.

“Hello”, I answered impatiently, a bit annoyed to have my peaceful walk interrupted. It was Teresa from work. She said she was playing golf at Auckland Golf Club near Middlemore Hospital with a group of friends, when they spotted a dog hanging around, looking for food.

“It is a little girl, Daniela” Teresa gushed excitedly, “She’s only a puppy, very timid and too thin”.

Other members of the Golf Club said that the dog had been there for some days already. She was so shy that no-one could get near her. Teresa however, a real dog lover, persevered and after some time managed to coax the pup closer. A few pats and cuddles later, the puppy didn’t leave Teresa’s side anymore, closely following her for the full eighteen holes of the golf course.

Now the only question remaining was what to do with the little mite. Several ideas amongst the golfers were discussed and dismissed.

“Let’s call Daniela from work” Teresa suddenly said, “She’ll know what to do.”

That’s me. You see, I used to work as a Veterinary Nurse for twelve years before changing to my current office job. I rescued and rehomed many orphaned animals in my time. So who better to phone than me, someone who is incapable of saying no to an animal in need? It didn’t take much convincing and I was soon rushing down the mountain, with Pronto running ahead. It only took us ten minutes to drive to the Auckland Golf Club. Teresa came out with the frightened young dog. She was undeniably a beautiful puppy, mainly black with a white stripe on her chest and white toes on each paw. She was very cute indeed. I could understand why everyone at the Golf Club already loved her; she was such a sweet little thing.

Looks can be deceiving though and if I had known then what was to come I would have taken her to the nearest Animal Shelter myself.

In my years of being a Veterinary Nurse, I continually gave advice to frazzled clients when they came in and told me about all the things their puppy had chewed and destroyed.

“Be patient,” I would tell them.

“Yes, he will grow out of that destructive phase, he’s teething, it’s normal” I’d reassure them. I could never understand why people made such a big deal about the little accidents in the house, the chewing of furniture and shoes. That was simply part of the package of having a puppy. Ha! Now that Reva has entered my life I could suddenly sympathise with these past clients.

And so Reva joined our little family which consisted of me, the dog Pronto and a very timid feline called Leroy. The first week with Reva was a breeze as Pronto just growled at her and sulked at me. Leroy did what he does best when an intruder shows up – he disappeared. This gave me time to concentrate on settling Reva in and showing her the ropes at Chateau Daniela. My heart ached to see how much she craved TLC and how she wolfed down her food as if it were her last supper. I was determined to show her a better life than what she had before.

Over the next couple of weeks, Pronto slowly came around, occasionally exerting his dominance. Mostly though, they were playing happily. Even Leroy started making an appearance again, sneaking in at night to eat, then hiss at Reva and shoot back out through the cat door, so fast, the door would swing on its hinges for quite some time afterwards.

Reva’s sweet and loving nature lulled me into a false sense of security. I had done it again and rescued an animal in need, proving that all that is required is good old fashioned TLC.

Oh boy was I wrong!

Once Reva’s confidence grew, she became mischievous but also suffered badly from separation anxiety.

And so her game began.

As long as I was around, she was as good as gold but as soon as I left the property she panicked and tried to follow me every which way she could. She turned out to be a real Houdini. Once I departed for work in the morning, it was only a matter of time until I got a phone call from a neighbour to say Reva had escaped. No-one could catch her as she was too timid. So, every day for about two weeks, usually within an hour of arriving at work, I’d have to rush back home again and find her. Luckily she was never too far away and came back when called, looking suitably sheepish. My stress levels were through the roof. I was scared she’d get hit by a car or be impounded. That $300 fine I could not afford, let alone an enormous vet bill to patch her up after an accident. To keep her safe (and keep my job) I had no choice but to chain her up during the day until I could resolve the problem.

I roped my friend Sara in to help me turn my property into Fort Knox. Off to Bunning’s Warehouse we went, coming back in the dark with planks of wood, a roll of strong wire and other bits and pieces. Then we proceeded to lower the gate so Reva could no longer squeeze underneath it. Let me ask you this: If my cat can only just get under it, how come my Labrador sized dog can do it with ease? You figure it out.

Sara and I were working hard, not afraid of using all sorts of tools. By the time we finished with the gate and had put an extension up on the fence to stop Reva from jumping it, we were buggered but also quite satisfied.

“There’s no way she can get out now,” Sara said.

I nodded in agreement.

The next morning, I barricaded my gate with a plank of wood, fastening it with numerous bungee cords. That took about 10 minutes to do, with Reva and Pronto watching intently.

Feeling confident in knowing my little escape artist would be safely contained at home, I left for work.

Well, imagine my surprise when I got home that evening and there was no Reva.

“Surely not,” I muttered under my breath, “I don’t believe this.”

Pronto was happy to see me and not the slightest bit concerned about being alone. I searched every corner of my property to find her escape route, all the while calling her name. I walked up and down the street, feeling a mixture of frustration and anxiety.

No luck, she was gone.

Despondently, I patted Pronto on the head and opened the front door to my house. Lost in thoughts it took me a few seconds to realise the scene that greeted me. The place looked like a tornado had swooped through it. Everything had been wiped off the coffee table, there were ripped up magazines, my socks out of the bedroom, my shoes out of the laundry. Everything had been dragged into the lounge and shredded. In the middle of all that chaos was Reva, eyeballing me, happy as Larry, as if to say “Look mum, I’m a good girl, I stayed home!”

Squeezing herself through the cat door must have been a tough challenge, but that’s my girl, nothing is ever too hard for her.

Now that the escaping was no longer an option, Reva’s new game was to break into the house with one mission only: Destroy! Well, I am going to show this headstrong puppy that I am just as stubborn as her. Game on – again!

After a few days of shrugging off my daily losses, I had an epiphany and locked the cat door during the day. Now my darling girl would have no way of escaping the property or getting into the house to shred my possessions.

Is it Game Over? Am I the winner? Has Reva accepted defeat, or is she simply taking time out, plotting the next game?

Hmm, time will tell.

Ursa & Claire

Ursa & Claire

Before our Newfoundland girl, Ursa (or Ursa bear as she’s become known) came into our lives, I would never have thought to participate in fundraising, street collections or children’s parties.

To be honest mixing with lots of strangers and asking for money or entertaining kids is so outside my comfort zone it never even crossed my mind. Then with Ursa everything changed!

I saw how Ursa loves meeting people of all ages and how much pleasure she gives people with her attention, eye contact and pushy lean against cuddles! She recently got called a 'love sponge' which has to be the most accurate description ever! Watching other people have a 'connection' during a brief encounter with your bear just reinforces to me how lucky we are to have such best friends.

Since childhood having my own dog has been on my 'one day' list. That 'one day' took a while. Living on a boat, motorcycling around Europe and moving half way round the world were all great times, but not really suitable for a dog. So now quite a few years down the line finally the correct situation arose and wow was it worth the wait. During the waiting period I used to love to meet dogs and their owners and briefly share a glimpse in to that ever rewarding bond they share. So it seems only fair that I should now return the favour for others that our waiting their 'one day'.

Ursa and I have now undertaken 3 years of annual SPCA street collections and 3 excitable kids’ special needs Christmas parties. Ursa, and these experiences, have taught me so much. What follows are some of my recollections from these events, which made a real impact on me even to this day, years later.

For our first SPCA street collecting, Ursa was about 6 months old; we were paired up with her bestie Phoenix, a Japanese Akita of a similar age. Two puppies playing definitely drew a crowd!

It was fascinating meeting so many people and see the dogs response. If Phoenix was a bit unsure about someone Ursa would barge in and take the cuddles. I'd like to think it was to reassure and relax Phoneix, but maybe it was simply being greedy for cuddles!

Ursa seemed to spot and hone in on any eye contact that came her way or any reach into a bag or pocket, she was there pulling me towards strangers. Children in pushchairs getting thrust towards her didn't faze her. She seemed to know extra care was required.

A valuable lesson I learnt on our first street collection was not to judge people. One of the first people to approach me on my first day of SPCA collecting was a lady with big sunglasses covering much of her face depositing several notes into my bucket. Thanking her I casually asked how her morning was and after a sigh she lifted her glasses to reveal tear filled eyes and cue floods of tears.

Between sobs she explained she lost her dog only yesterday. All I could do was give her a hug. A moment of utter understanding with a complete stranger. Sadly encounters similar to this became commonplace. But taking the time to listen and share stories seemed to result in a weight being lifted from shoulders and all of us realising what a special impact a dog has in our hearts.

I recall a handful of young teenage lads skateboarding towards us and I'm ashamed to say I perceived them as trouble and began to be super alert of a potential distraction and bag snatch coming. I couldn't have been more wrong. They instantly stopped their noisy skateboards and gently approached the dogs letting the curious puppies sniff their boards and relax to their company. Amid puppy cuddles and licks the lads dropped to their knees and started rummaging in their school rucksacks. They returned to their feet thanking us for dog pats and deposited all their lunch money into our collection buckets whilst apologizing because it was all the cash they had on them. I was speechless at such generous gestures from youths that usually get such a bad reputation.

Just as I was getting into the mode of greeting people with a slightly outstretched collection bucket, Ursa poised ready for pats and cuddles I was starting to subconsciously judge those who I thought would stop for free dog pats and those who would just donate. Maybe it was the way they dressed, maybe the eye contact or smile or maybe the speed of their walk. I can't pinpoint what exactly but my brain was starting to make assumptions about people.

Ursa clearly thought differently. The homeless guy obviously loved dogs, apologised he had nothing to give but Ursa didn't treat him any differently to the guy in the suit stuffing large notes into our collection pots. The cuddles and eye contact remained the same.

Downtown Auckland resembled more of a building site the last collection day. The numerous construction workers from such differing nationalities and cultures still all made time for the dogs, even taking a quick smoko break to the ATM's to fill our collection buckets.

As the morning progressed and tiredness started to creep in a gentleman in an Auckland Port high vis vest walked past and gave lovely words of encouragement and returned 10mins later with coffees all round. All our focus had been on the dogs so it was super touching that someone thought to look after us. He didn't hang around long enough for a proper thank you and quickly melted back into the crowd.

We even got an invite into an office building! 1 Newfie, 1 Leonberger & 1 Old English Sheepdog with 2 anxious owners in tow were escorted, via a very small lift, to the 5th floor of an open planned IT office. So many expensive computers to destroy but the dogs were very respectful of the unfamiliar surroundings and loved meeting everybody! It was slow progress through each office and every level back to the noisy street below!

Just as we were starting to pack up a very well dressed businessman came running towards us. Slightly out of breath apologising he had been stuck in a big meeting all morning and had been watching us from his office window. He gave us an overwhelmingly huge donation and for his trouble got slobber on his suit, which genuinely seemed to make his day!

So if you have not yet worked with your dog for fundraising please give it a go. It's a truly rewarding experience. Yes it can be hot, yes your dog might get bored and barky, but you meet some lovely people, hear some great stores and it makes their day and yours!

With the Kids Special Needs Christmas Party nothing could prepare me for the noise! The flashing lights of police cars and screaming sirens, the disco, the karaoke, the dance groups all competing for attention in the enclosed ASB Showgrounds building. I know I'm not selling it very well and I was terrified, yet Ursa gently pulled me inside to see what all the fuss was about in her curious as ever style! She was the best calming influence to my anxiety and she seemed to step up when I needed her most!

Lots of young girls in princess dresses rushed her at the door, to which Ursa's response was to throw herself on the ground for tummy rubs, much to the delight and giggles from the princesses!

The kids’ ages and abilities vary enormously and sometimes it's hard to find the right words or the best way to interact. This is where I take my lead from Ursa!

One young boy was heavily strapped into his wheelchair behind a lap tray with arms flailing. Ursa was initially quite intimidated by the movement but she quickly sussed out she could get to his bare feet and give him licks. His face instantly changed into a big smile and his body calmed, his parents teared up with emotion seeing his obvious enjoyment.

Another young boy clearly terrified by dogs was led by his carer towards Ursa who for once in her life just stayed like a statue. Every 10 minutes this lad returned not saying a word, each time getting closer and closer. A few hours later he stroked her, and then before you knew it they were on the floor together in a huge embrace. They seemed to click and his carer was in stunned silence.

Sometimes it's hard to tell whether the kids enjoy it but a glance to their parents or carers tell quite a story and it's incredibly rewarding!

These opportunities are a great way to see your dog do amazing things for people. Yes it's tiring, a steep learning curve and we all sleep for days afterwards, but my gosh it's rewarding, so please give it a try and spread the pats, fluffy cuddles and slobber!

Milly & Sharon

Milly & Sharon

Milly, so named because we got her in January 2000, was a beautiful tiny fluff ball, who grew into a much loved family member.

Born in Palmerston North she enjoyed normal cat life bringing gifts of birds, and the odd mouse. We moved around a bit but in the 9 years we lived there she settled into each of the 6 houses we lived in. Our spaniel pup thought she would be a great playmate – Milly wasn’t so keen and after a couple of scratches on his nose Toby left her alone.

In 2009 we moved south. It was a rough ferry crossing and then on our way had a car accident. Milly was very frightened. Although her cage fell on the floor and she had her own wee accident, she survived and was happy once we got to Christchurch, where she once again could wander the house and be cuddled by children. Again we had to move around a few houses but so long as I was there she was fine and would always come running when I called her name.

For a time of 6 months I had to leave her at my daughter’s while I lived in a camping ground. Milly seemed happy enough when I visited a few times a week. Then she disappeared in June 2010 – I wondered what had happened because she had never left home before. My daughter didn’t want to tell me at first, and said I had just missed her when I went to visit but in August finally told me they think she had run away when they got their puppy back in May...... She had been gone for 3 months. I didn’t know where to start..... I did flyers around a couple of blocks, and at local dairy and school but nothing turned up.

In September I finally moved out of the camping ground into my own home, and I really missed having Milly around. A friend suggested phoning SPCA so I did and gave a description of her and left my phone number.

Just the next day they rung me to say that a cat had been bought in that may be mine, but as it was just on closing I arranged to go the next day and see if it was her.

Overnight the big earthquake happened at 4.30am. Christchurch rocked n rolled and it was 2 days later before I could finally get to the SPCA. As I was walking down the line of cages to where the worker was leading me, a paw come out and hit my arm. I just carried on following the staff member listening as she told me how many of the cages had fallen during the quake. The cat she showed me wasn’t my Milly but I looked at all the cats on the walk back and this time I heard a meow – it was Milly's meow. The cat that had pawed me was Milly – she had been handed in back in June, being found a couple of suburbs away from where my daughter lived. I was so happy to see her and that she had survived a couple of months on the streets and also being in one of the rows of crates that had fallen during the quake. In September 2010 I took Milly home where she settled in and stayed very close to home and me from then on, until the even bigger quake in February 2011. Milly ran and hid behind the couch where she stayed for at least 24hours, but slowly through the many aftershocks like us she just got use to them.

I had to take my nephew in as his house was red stickered, and he and his cat Alvie moved in. Milly was not impressed with another cat in her house and by the time my nephew moved out 2 weeks later she was gone, again she just went outside and never come back. I did flyers and phone calls and for days walked and asked vets etc if they had seen my big fluffy cat, and as weeks turned to months I began to accept that she was not coming back........

In July 2012 I was driving in the city when a cat ran across in front of me – I thought it looked like Milly, but had been more than a year, it couldn’t be! Next time I used that road I kept an eye out, and I saw her a few times sitting on a letterbox, so I stopped and called her name as I approached and she meowed, it was her... I visited a few more times then went home and with photos I went and knocked on the door. The lady who feeds many stray cats but knows them all told me Milly had turned up one day just over a year ago and just stayed. I showed her the photos pointing out her markings, and spoke to Milly. She could see that we knew each other and so I took her home again in August 2012. Milly became queen of the house again sleeping on the bed in the sun, and sitting beside me on the couch in the evenings.

In September 2013 Milly finally passed away from natural causes. She is buried in my yard, resting at home for good. She had certainly had an adventurous life and I’m sure for all her months surviving on the streets of Christchurch, the car accident, and the rough ride on the ferry, her 9 lives were well spent.

Finn & Jules

Finn & Jules

It was a month before Finn’s 10th birthday when my husband said to me “I think I just saw Finn sniffing around the snail bait.”

Finn looked at me with even bigger eyes than normal and did a couple of little shakes. I did not delay. I scooped him up and ran to the car. Driving to the emergency vet, he starting going downhill quickly and I was singing to him and asking him to “hold on buddy.”

The vet did what they needed to do and I had a few phone calls from doggy ICU saying he was not looking good. He had aspirated and was struggling to breath. We made the call to have him euthanised.

We got to the vet after finding babysitters for our kids and went into say goodbye to him. He placed his head in my hands and stared right into my heart and I could sense him saying “not yet mum.”

The vet said we could keep him on oxygen and make a call in the morning.

The nurse called at 6am the next morning saying there had been a complete turnaround and he was off the oxygen.

It took him about a month to fully recover but he is now running around like normal keeping the cats in the neighbourhood under control and we are so thankful to still have him in our family.

The vet said just one of the pellets he ingested could take down a 25kg dog. Finn is 3kgs and had a stomach full of them. Snail bait and dogs don’t mix, but if there is a mistake and they do mix, don’t delay, get to the vet straightaway!

Finn is our miracle chihuahua!

Theo & Amber

Theo & Amber

Theo was my first ever rabbit and by far the most memorable! He was a white and caramel mini-lop with the biggest personality. But one of the most memorable things about him was his need to go on adventures!

We had him for about 5 months before he embarked on his first adventure. We came home from a weekend away and discovered he had been stolen the night before. His hutch door lock was damaged and we didn’t know if we would ever see him again. I immediately set out on a mission to track him down. I took a day off work to search the streets and nearby towns. I even got a story in Stuff.co.nz to help find him!

After two days I began to lose hope. I had received awful messages from strangers saying he would be used for bait in dog fighting. There had been absolutely no sign of my little guy anywhere until one afternoon when I was at work and I received a call. Someone had found the young girl who had taken Theo and instructed her to return him. As no one was home, she popped him through the cat door under the watchful eyes of the person who had notified me about her. After a mad-dash home, I was finally reunited with him! He was more than ecstatic to see his fluffy bed, his full food bowl and of course his soccer ball. We decided to get a new hutch and house train him so he could be safe when we weren’t around.

A year later we moved to a new house and were woken at 4am one night with our dog barking. My partner went outside to check on things and thought he heard something sprint down the drive. With the backyard being pitch black and being so late, he glanced at Theo’s hutch and it seemed to look normal. Without a second thought he crawled back into bed and quickly fell asleep. The next morning I was brushing my teeth and my partner came inside with wide eyes and a pale face. “I’m so sorry” he said. Straight away I knew it was Theo. I ran outside and was met by pieces of his hutch all over the lawn, his toys ripped to pieces; dog prints all up the hutch and no sign of Theo. I was heartbroken. No way could he be alive after that. Could he?

I once again set out to look for him; I posted all over social media, made flyers and went door knocking. I knew he wouldn’t be far. I feared of the state I would find him in, but I had to know what happened to him. Later that afternoon, I received a call from the pound who had located the dog. He had escaped from a nearby property. He had minor scratches on his face from the hutch wire. But he had no trace of Theo. The following day I received more heart breaking news... My father had passed away suddenly. With no other option, I had to abandon the search for Theo to be with my family at the other end of the country. On the trip down I had a phone call from a strange number. “Are you missing a lovely rabbit by any chance?” the woman asked me. After a few more questions and a couple of photos exchanged of the rabbit, there was no doubt... Theo was alive! My little adventurer had once again been found and was able to come home. Not a single scratch on him.

We repaired his hutch, bought him brand new toys, installed a security camera and fully fenced our property. Theo has enjoyed life at our house and hopefully no more adventures are on the cards for our little adventurer!

Charlie & Jennifer

Charlie & Jennifer

My partner & I have been living in Queenstown for the past 8 years and I have wanted a dog in my life for the past...forever.

I grew up in the English country side with chickens, parrots, cats & dogs, all rescues.

My partner adopted a cat a few years ago and she was such a sweetie but unfortunately she was hit by a car a few years ago.

I work at the kiwi Birdlife Park as a senior wildlife keeper so I'm surrounded by animals on a daily basis. I suffer with migraines a lot so I'd been thinking more & more about my present situation & having the time to give a furry, four legged friend a home.

I follow the Invercargill-based charity furever homes & a very sweet face popped up on their Facebook page one day... and our story begins.

I had already contacted the charity to see if they had any small dogs for adoption. I'd mostly grown up with larger dogs but I had an injury a few years ago which resulted in multiple surgeries on my arm. I knew a large dog would potentially pull on the lead & might have behavioural insecurities.

Charlie is a good ol mixture of breeds but the charity said his previous humans brought him from a breeder & he's a miniature foxy x bichon but I'm sure he has a bit of Jack Russell too.

Furever homes told us Charlie is extremely timid around men & he was given up just before Christmas. The family couldn't cope with his barking & jumping up. The charity weren't informed of his diet or given much background information at all. They handed Charlie over & spoke about euthanasia if furever homes didn't take him off of their hands.

The charity wouldn't have let that happen. It was the perfect timing when I contacted the charity in search of my furever companion.

My partner & I travelled the 3 hours to Invercargill & arrived at the foster family’s house. Charlie was a ball of nerves – tail down, ears pinned back & even his eyes looked sad & distressed.

I instantly fell head over heels.

He warmed to me far more quickly than he did to my partner Paul. Paul crouched down and made himself as small as possible but Charlie's trust wasn't there. The foster family were fantastic, they gave us food, a bed, a harness because Charlie was not used to walking calmly on a lead. They said to keep in contact & if it doesn't work out we could bring him back. Well, that never happened. We love him so much!

I sat in the back of the car with him & we had a soft crate made up. He sat on my lap the entire time, occasionally licking my hand.

I couldn't believe such a sweet dog had such a tough start.

He was scared of the curtains flapping, the gentle waves of lake, and any sudden movement & grumbled at every man he would meet.

We've now had him in our lives for 3 months! His confidence is growing by the day. He's now playing with his toys. Favourite being a squeaky pheasant, he started ripping of the feet, then the wings & now it's in many pieces but he sleeps with the tail. He has a cheeky side, incredibly smart, chases the sun in the garden, enjoys a weekly bath & loves his walks around the park.

He didn't leave my side for weeks but as his personality unveils, he's spending more time sniffing what dogs have been where etc.

He loves to hide his favourite treat, a deer tendon in the garden! He'll dig it up at his leisure & comes trotting in with his head & tail high.

He's learning tricks, good manners & gives lovely morning cuddles.

Soon I will enrol him in the Queenstown agility team because I think he'll benefit with his high intelligence & with his lack of early socialisation.

I've been careful not to overwhelm him too soon. He's becoming a bit of a local legend, he makes complete strangers smile. We've had many conversations with the public about his story & if a random man smiles & looks like a dog person, Charlie will now gladly take a few treats from them!

Olly & Andrea

Olly & Andrea

My story is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened in my life second to having my son.

I got my fur baby, a Tibetan terrier, when he was just a puppy. I fell in love with him instantly and named him Olly. I got Olly before I had a child and he was my baby. He would mope around the house whenever I left and was my best friend. He was two when I had my son and a few months later the attention my newborn was taking up had stressed both Olly and myself out. Olly started nibbling away at his fur and he wasn’t himself. It took awhile but I knew he needed a new home, which broke my heart because he was so special to me, but, I wanted him to have a better life and as any new Mum would know, sometimes you can’t see the bigger picture when you’re dealing with a new baby.

I listed Olly to find him a new home, but I found myself lying to people who wanted him and telling them he’d already found a home which he hadn’t. One day, a lovely lady called me and I told her he was still available. She showed me pictures of her house etc., and she also mentioned how the night before she had a strange dream about the name Olly which she’d never heard of before. It felt right that this was the home for Olly. She travelled hours to come and pick him up, which was the hardest day of my life. She kept in touch and sent photos of him.

I thought of Olly and missed him everyday and as my son grew older and life was easier, I regretted my decision.

Two years later, I got a phone call from the lady asking if I wanted to babysit Olly for two weeks while they were out of the country. Of course I said yes and I was so happy I couldn’t stop crying because I never thought I’d see my baby again. I drove to pick him up and as soon as I called him he remembered my voice and started crying. He came back home and it was like he never left. I was so grateful to have the chance to see him one more time. Then I got another call asking if I would like to have Olly back for good because they were going to move overseas and she knew how much I loved and missed him.

So now I have him back with us where he belongs and I believe that all my procrastinating before re homing him was for a reason – because he was meant to come back to us.

Buddy & Jane

Buddy & Jane

We are renovating and, unfortunately, a couple of months ago, a side gate was left open.

Our little Tibetan Pug, Buddy, scampered off to the church next door where the little kids were enjoying their Friday afternoon movie.

Buddy adores children, and they love him in return; he was so excited to be with them. Unfortunately, some of the children began to chase him, and he thought this all a big, wonderful game. Out of the church they went in pursuit of Buddy who ran straight out onto the road. A motorbike was coming around the corner at that moment and took Buddy out. A parent told me later that Buddy Boo flew up into the air, landed hard on the tarmac, and lay there dazed.

After being scooped up by this bystander, I came on the scene – Buddy had great black tyre marks down his side and the poor motor biker was standing there in shock. Off we went to A&E where Buddy spent 2 nights. A very bruised and sore little dog that was put on pain medication, but amazingly, no broken bones, no internal injuries – a total miracle. Thank goodness he was insured too as the bill was hefty.

The children sent get well cards; we think their prayers for Buddy’s recovery must have been heard!

Ace & Haidee

Ace & Haidee

On February 1st 2018, Cyclone Fehi hit my property with a vengeance.

We are located on the Orowaiti River in Westport and we own chickens, horses, a dog and a cat.

My parent-in-laws live directly behind us and had a horse and some cattle and they also were hit as hard as we were.

The story I would like to tell is one of a fight to save the horse and a story about the plight of the chickens.

When the flood hit, our animals and our parents’ animals became our first priority. Once we rounded up the cat and dog, we were off to save the horses. My two horses were safely stuffed into my parents-in-laws’ higher house whilst my father-in-law’s horse could not be found. A neighbour alerted us to the horse’s plight. The neighbour was yelling at us to save the horse but we couldn't understand him, and it wasn't until I saw the horse’s nose sticking above the water by an inch or two, and his red cover occasionally bobbing up, that I freaked out and swam through the flood water to save him. He was caught by his cover in a fence, and he was drowning.

The neighbour and I managed to dive under and cut the fence he was stuck in and he was free but not in a good way. He could barely swim. We finally guided him to high ground. Although he was alive, he had taken on too much water and badly damaged his legs in the fence. He had to be put down. It was so bittersweet because we thought we had saved him.

In our desperation to save all our animals, my husband took it upon himself to be the chook saviour. To understand what we went through, you need to understand the speed with which the water hit our property. There was no rain but two mini tsunami-like waves that inundated our property. In 20 minutes, our property was up to 1m deep underwater. An hour later there were areas that were 2 - 2.5m deep.

With limited time, my husband had to save as many of our 11 chooks as he could, and all he had was a double sit-on kayak. This seemed like it was going to be an impossible mission, however, against all odds and for the 1st time in their lives the chickens seemed to sense their predicament and he was able to load eight of the chickens on to the front of his kayak and to safety. Unfortunately, three of the chooks had become trapped in their hutch and were passed before he could save them.

On the bright side the eight chooks were floated to safety and there was nothing funnier on that devastating day than seeing my husband with a goofy grin and a kayak full of chickens coming towards us.

If only my camera hadn't been destroyed.

Scooter & Paula

Scooter & Paula

Five and half years ago my Scooter came into our lives - it was meant to be.

Hubby and I had been looking around for a dog but nothing really was capturing our hearts until a friend sent me a text saying “look what I found.” She was visiting her friend at a vet clinic and, seriously, it was LOVE at first sight. I quickly texted my husband and said “this is our dog, this is the one”. I arranged to go and meet ‘him’ the next day.

I was so excited, I had butterflies in my stomach from pure happiness and I still remember when he came running around the corner in the reception area of the vet clinic – he had huge eyes, crazy fur, he was adorable. He had a special aura about him. He was already 5 months old and was under foster care. I immediately was like “I will pay for him now, when can I take him home?”

So, over the next few days, I brought so much stuff: the biggest crate I could find, a pet bed, blankets, pee pads, toys, food, bowls etc… I was then ready to go get him and bring the bundle of joy home.

The day we picked him, we gave him his new name “Scooter”. As I was signing the paper work, including the 3 months of Pet’n’sur cover he came with, one of the vet nurses handed me a brochure. It had a heading something like “Learn about Corprohagia.” I was thinking “OMG what on earth is this? Is it serious? Why didn’t they tell me something is wrong with Scooter?” As I opened up the brochure I started to skim read it and a few words stood out: “faeces” “consumption”. Yip. Scooter eats his own poop. I had a little giggle while thinking to myself I liked their style of not telling me until I had paid for him and of course was already in love with him – there was no way I would not take him because of this anyway.

Five and half years on he doesn’t have Corprohagia. We have trained him out of it – it took a couple of years. However he is blind and he went blind from a very early age. This makes him so special – he is so amazing, he has taught me to never give up even if you have obstacles in your way. Scooter’s favourite thing to do is play fetch!

I believe every pet that comes into your life will not only show you what pure love is, they will teach you valuable lessons that makes you a better person.

P.S. Scooter now has a 10 month old pug sister called Missy – she is teaching me that it is fun to party as much as possible, and I’m pretty sure Scooter is learning the same.

Janie & Pippi

Janie & Pippi

Pippi is a lucky young Toy Poodle with a story to tell. A story for all small dogs about a risk which is so simple & common, yet costly...

This is a story that all small dog owners should be aware of. Those cute little Chihuahua's or Terrier's are just a few of the small dogs that are all at risk of such a simple, yet costly, mistake.

You love to hold them. Those small wee puppies - even when they're a little bigger but still have the energy and desire to run, jump & play at any and every opportunity.

In comes the story of Pippi - a small Toy Poodle of just 8 months old. She was being carried in her owner's arms, just as many of these small dogs tend to be.

What happened next can happen so very easily. Something caught young Pippi's eye and next thing she jumped & flew out of her unsuspecting owner's arms.

A funny landing on her leg meant that her owners took her off to the vet right away. The diagnosis? Left ulna & radius fracture. Pippi had broken her little leg.

She had x-rays taken and was whisked off to the specialist vets. Over $5,300 later, and with a leg full of screws and a plate, Pippi was ready to go home.

Pippi is getting stronger everyday on her repaired leg - recovering from a broken leg is not a quick or easy fix! Her owners were so pleased they were insured as this is exactly what insurance is for, those unforseen events. Who knew that Pippi would take a leap from the safety of her owner's arms resulting in a rather costly broken leg!

The moral of the story is be careful, be aware. You never know what can happen. In this case, we're glad we were there to help Janie with Pippi's treatment and recovery!

Maya & Tobasco

Maya & Tobasco

Tobasco is a lucky cat with an all-too-common story we hear about here at Pet-n-Sur. His story is told by his mum below...

Tobasco is our cuddly six year old neutered ginger moggy. He came into our lives as a five week old kitten when we fostered his mum and her seven kittens. Though you'd never think it, to look at him now, he was the runt of the litter.

It's fair to say, in comparison to other cats, he has always been a bit 'simple minded' and his wants are few - a warm lap, a full food bowl and lots of cuddles. First thing in the morning, after a night of being locked out the bedroom, he scratches at the door and howls to be let in. He's a good alarm clock, trouble is Tobasco has no sense of what the weekend means! He travelled to New Zealand, from the UK, when we emigrated in 2009 and to date has enjoyed good health.

Then one night my husband Paul, who was getting ready for bed, said, 'Tobasco's acting funny. It's like he can't pee.' I was straight out of bed. Poor Tobasco was straining on the litter tray. He got off and went in the hall where he squatted down again. I was more concerned with whether he could urinate than whether he was doing it on the carpet. It was clear he was in pain and getting distressed. He went back to the litter tray and Paul went to get the cat box.

It was 10.30pm, pouring with rain and howling a gale outside. The only place that would take him was the emergency vet clinic some distance away. We left a message, to say we were on our way, and headed off.

The vet was waiting for us and quickly examined him. It wasn't good news. She said he had a blocked bladder and would need immediate surgery. We went home and had a restless night until she called to say all had gone well. As it is an emergency clinic it is only open nights and weekends. We had to collect him and take him to our vets before 8am.

He looked so pathetic with a drip, a catheter and a cat collar on, but we were just relived he was alive. He was under observation till the weekend, though he was off the catheter there was no question of him coming home. We wanted to avoid the stress of having to move him back to a place set up for emergencies. It would be like us trying to recover in an A&E department. Fortunately our vet took pity on us and agreed to keep him at their clinic. Their cattery staff fed and keep an eye on him, with her dropping by to check on his progress. He was in hospital well over a week.

Both vets told us that, had we not seen him and acted fast, he would have been dead in less than 24 hours. As it is most owners don't notice until their cats have practically collapsed and then it is often to late. The bladder can become so distended that even if it hasn't ruptured, killing the cat, damage to the nerves makes the cat incontinent. I'd read this is a common problem for middle aged, neutered males, so when Paul said Tobasco wasn't urinating, it came instantly to mind. Ten minutes later we would have both been in bed. Unusually he was silent throughout, so we wouldn't have been alerted by howls of pain. Most mornings are a rush to get out to work, so there were no guarantees we'd have picked up he was suffering. I shudder to think what could have happened if Paul hadn't seen him. Doing so saved Tobasco's life.

I just remember the look of relief on the vet's face when we told her we had Pet-n-Sur insurance. We got the impression vets often have to negotiate an animal's life, based on whether the owner can afford the bill or not. The emergency service isn't cheap but had we waited till morning to see our vet, not only would Tobasco have suffered horribly but his bladder may have been irrevocably damaged.

He is a relatively young and much loved pet. The condition that he had is deadly but, if caught in time, totally curable. He is now on a special diet food, that helps dissolve urinary crystals, and doing really well.

We have pet insurance so we're never in the position of having to debate, in the middle of the night, over whether or not our pet needs to die because we can't afford to pay for treatment that would cure them. There is no question in our minds that the monthly premiums we pay not only brings us piece of mind but safety and security for our beloved furry friends. Thanks Pet-n-Sur!

Written by Maya Hammarsal

Kathleen & Una

Kathleen & Una

Una is an amazing Siberian Husky certified as a Pet Therapy Dog working with St Johns Hospital and the SPCA...

Una was born on the 11th June, 2001 in Arkansas, USA as a pedigreed Siberian Husky 'snow dog'. She was then raised as a beach dog in San Diego, California where she socialised with many dogs and their owners at Coronado Island's famous 'dog beach' and ran alongside the seagulls and the Navy Seals in-training through the shallow ocean waters.

In 2006, Una made the long journey with Kathleen to her new home in New Zealand. She became a certified Pet Therapy Dog with St. Johns Hospital / SPCA in Auckland and has worked at Starship Children's Child and Family Psychiatric Unit for 5 years. She started visiting children in Starship's 'Ella's room' extending her outreach to children suffering from life threatening illnesses. She has also visited elderly hospitals and participated in special events such as the Easter Show, Santa Claus Parade, Christmas show and foster child programmes with audiences of children who may be economically disadvantaged, have physical or mental disabilities or debilitating illnesses.

Una has had a natural affinity to children with special needs since she was a young pup. Her first accidental therapeutic encounter was in San Diego at Border's Book shop, in which an autistic child crawled under the cafe table and immediately hugged her and began effortlessly chatting with her while the child's parents stood by awestruck as their normally unsociable child opened up to Una about all of the happenings in his world. I was then able to communicate with the child about his age, if he had pets and other general questions, receiving an eager response to my questions as he focussed on stroking Una's fur. Children with marked impairment in social functioning or under any kind of mental or physical stress/trauma are naturally at ease with Una, oftentimes able to express themselves to their caregivers and parents through Una, which on other occasions may not normally occur if the therapy dog was not present.

Una works with children and teenagers in the areas of:

  • Neurodevelopmental disorders (Autism Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Disorder)
  • Mental/Psychological disorders such as juvenile depression, bipolar, early onset schizophrenia, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, eating disorders and anxiety disorders
  • Neuromuscular disorders: Multiple Sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy
  • Life-threatening illnesses (Cancer, Cardiovascular conditions)
  • Physical rehabilitation (stroke, other skeletal/muscular impairments)

Michelle & Tango

Michelle & Tango

Tango has a special thanks for Pet-n-Sur and of course his mum for helping him with his liver problems...

My name is Tango and I am a middle aged Lhasa Apso and this is my story to date.

In March 2010 I didn't really feel like eating which worried my mum as I am a bit of a foodie. After two weeks of not eating much - not even my favourite sausages or cooked chicken - and many trips to the vet because of this, the vet wouldn't let me go home one night. I suddenly found myself on a drip and a resident at the vets. This freaked my mum out no end especially when I heard them tell her I had a problem with my liver.

My mum visited me every morning before work and on her way home from work until the vets kicked her out so they could go home at night. She was even there most of the weekends bringing me special treats to see if I could be tempted to eat something. I really tried but I just couldn't do it.

After many tests, the vets then decided before I wasted away (I was losing weight fast - I know I needed to lose a bit but not at the rate it was happening!) that I needed to have a tube put in my neck through to my stomach. I didn't know until after this operation that everyone was extremely worried I wouldn't survive.

The tube was in and suddenly my tummy was full again as I was being fed through it four times a day and my mum still visited all the time. I really did look forward to seeing her and perked up every time I heard her arrive.

I shared the overnight facilities with Molly the cat who was in for the same problem.... you know cats really aren't that bad. After a couple more weeks mum was allowed to take me home at night but it was a bit of a bummer that she had to drop me off again in the morning on the way to work. Mum would tube feed me at night and the lovely staff at the vets fed me through the day.

One day, a couple of months later, my tests came back a bit better and I was just starting to eat for myself again when the vet said I could go home for good. My mum was almost in tears and I would have jumped for joy if I could have. Once I was eating on my own the tube came out thank goodness as they kept putting a pink bandage around my neck and boys don't look good in pink and it wasn't all that comfortable. I was put on heaps of tablets every day, two for my liver, steriods to make me hungry and imuran to suppress my immune system as although we never found out what caused my problem we did find out that my own body was attacking my liver.

I have been going in for blood tests monthly and each month my liver has been improving. As it improves, the amount of medication I have to take has reduced. I think this is great as I really ballooned when I was on the maximum amount and I wasn't allowed to be around other dogs or where they had been which was depressing. The good news is I have lost heaps of the weight I put on and I can even jump on the couch again by myself. I have more energy, I love my food again and my liver is getting better all the time.

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank my mum for having the forethought to take out pet insurance as I know without it she wouldn't have been able to pay for the special treatment I received and that I wouldn't be here now. I managed to use up a full years cover in the space of four - five months and my mum was lucky that the vets were happy for her to pay as much as she could each month until she managed to pay the remaining balance off.

I know I still cost heaps each month as the drugs I'm on aren't cheap and neither are the monthly tests. Pet-n-Sur are back in the picture again as my policy has been renewed and they will help my mum pay for everything, they have been so great. I still have a long way to go, but I know everything is improving including my hair which fell out when I started on the imuran.

I love my mum and I know she loves me so I try to tell her this every morning by waking her up with a good morning nuzzle of her face. We will get there, my mum, me and Pet-n-Sur.

Thank you
Tango

Sue & Matai

Sue & Matai

Matai is part of the wonderful volunteer team at LandSAR Search Dogs...

As a search dog Matai has to cover a lot of ground whilst looking for a lost person.

Her job is to search through dense scrub, over rocky terrain and along river banks - in other words anywhere a person may be laying injured, unseen and unresponsive.

While doing her job she damaged a dew claw. It was swollen, damaged and painful. She needs to be ready for all call outs so bilateral removal was the best solution - but it is a costly job.

Thanks to Pet-n-Sur, surgery was immediately possible due to their generous sponsorship of LandSAR Search Dogs.

Matai is now fully recovered and when first out training post operatively she found a wallet in the bush which was handed into police!

NZ LandSAR is the volunteer organisation that provides land search and rescue services to the police and as a specialist group, LandSAR Search Dogs are the official search dog group in New Zealand with 80 members and 27 operational search dogs.

To become operational the dogs undergo a rigorous assessment process and have to achieve the standards set by NZ LandSAR and the NZ Police Dog Section.

Avalanche dogs use airborne scent to locate people under the snow. Wilderness dogs are trained in tracking (following ground scent where people have walked) and / or area search where the dog uses the airborne scent of a lost person.

For more information on LandSAR Search Dogs please visit their website.

Teena & Bodie

Teena & Bodie

A touching story about a much loved member of the family...

I never thought I would ever need to have pet insurance, my previous dog 'Sheba' (German Shepherd) was with us for 15 years before she passed and we never had any major problems with her health. But now I am glad I did take out a policy with Pet-n-Sur. This is the story of our beloved dog Bodie.

Finally on 20th December 2009, after 8 years since our dear Sheba passed, a week before Christmas, we purchased the most handsome, cutest Border collie named Bodie. He was 8 weeks old and had just been blown dry after his bath and looked so cute.

In a very short time Bodie brought the house alive. He had the most wonderful personality. I took him to puppy socialisation and that's where they informed me about Pet-n-Sur. I read the reviews and stories on line and decided to take out a policy just in case.

The first few months was settling Bodie in and giving him time to get used to us. Bodie was always a nervous dog but he soon started to trust us and would bite our ankles to try and herd us. Bodie loved my Granddaughter and was always very gentle with her. He would try and mouth her hand (not hard) and lead her but she knew how to control Bodie and Bodie listened. He loved my Granddaughters play room and would go in and search for anything that he could chew. My Granddaughter was very understanding and always forgave him when she found one of her favourite toys or shoes eaten.

My husband regularly took Bodie down to the beach for walks and really enjoyed meeting other dog owners. We eventually were invited out to dinner with the Dog Walkers. It was such a happy time. Bodie was growing into the most stunning dog, his coat was amazing, black and white long hair and it always had the most beautiful shine. He was so handsome and made so many friends on the beach - Jesse, Peanut, Artie, Mollie, Chippy, Toby, Rex, Stitch (a huge black Great Dane who we used to call Stretch) and Rua. Bodie so loved to go to the beach and socialise, he never was interested in focussing on one toy like most of the other dogs. Bodie would steal the ball off other dogs to make them chase him (this was his way of getting them to play with him) he also loved chasing the seagulls and he could run so fast. Everyone commented on what a lovely dog he was and how he had such a lovely nature. Bodie just loved everyone.

Unfortunately not long after we got Bodie the road works began and Bodie was so scared of them. The yellow flashing lights and noise made him run under our bed and dig to try and hide. This went on for months and months. Bodie was also scared of the rubbish trucks. Every Wednesday Bodie would hide under the bed absolutely petrified because he knew it was rubbish day.

Although scared Bodie still loved his walks on the beach and was so funny at home; he would get up to all sorts of mischief. Pinching bowls and buckets to chew, sneaking into our room to find anything he could put his teeth into. Bodie loved to play catch, we had to try and catch him and he would side step us and run outside at hundred miles an hour then turn and stalks us. Another favourite game of his was pushing the rugby ball around with his nose. He would do this with his smaller toys and balls too. He would roll them to us to demand we play with him or pick up his ring to play tug a war.

As time went on Bodies fear escalated and he appeared to be losing his sight, he would stare at things and loose his balance. My husband started to take Bodie to the Beach in the car so he wouldn't get too scared. We took him to the vet several times and discussed our concerns but we all put it down to his fear of the road works and rubbish trucks.

Bodie was now 16 months old and so loved. He would look at us so trustingly but he appeared to be so scared of the world. His behaviours started to become a real worry..... Then one day he had a seizure. This really knocked him. From that day it was all down hill for Bodie, lots of vet visits and tests. Bodie's seizures became worse, lasted longer and were more violent, his sight deteriorated. He tried so hard to do the things he loved but couldn't, it was so sad to watch and was breaking my heart.

On 24th May 2011 Bodie went to drink his water and went into a seizure that lasted for 20 minutes or more. We took him to the Specialist Vet hoping that they had some news or could help him but the news wasn't good and Bodie started to seizure again while we were there even though he was on 3 Diazepam and Phenobarbital. Both my husband and I looked at each other and knew this wasn't good for our lovely dog, he didn't deserve this. Bodie was put to sleep and it was one of the saddest days for our family. We still haven't been back to the beach since that day. One day we will.

I would like thank all of the people at the Animates Vet, Specialist Vets and Pet-n-Sur for all of their help and support while our Bodie was alive. Knowing that you all really cared helped.

A special thanks to Pet-n-Sur who gave us peace of mind when making decisions about Bodies specialist vet visits and the tests required. We were unsure if Pet-n-Sur would refund the costs as per the policy because we had only been a policy holder for less than 2 years but they were true to their word and we really appreciated their honesty and the speed they processed our claim.

I would recommend Pet-n-Sur to anyone who is or is thinking of becoming a pet owner. Thank you for caring Pet-n-Sur.