Sheena’s Story (The Ark, Lincolnshire)

4/7/10 We have heard the sad news that Sheena passed away on 1st July 2010. Read her owners’ loving tribute to Sheena on her main page.

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26/12/08 We’ve had an update from Sheena’s owners:

This is just a short note to let you know that Sheena is still with us, 26 months on from we originally re-homed her from the Ark in North Somercotes.

We re-homed a 6 year old German Shepherd called Toby on 7th December 2007 from Chesterfield, as a companion for Sheena (who has age-related almost total deafness except for very low vibrations). Both dogs adore each other, and Sheena welcomed the company of a younger male. For his part, Toby seems happy to follow Sheena and not have to make the decisions, so to speak. Since he lived with a female shepherd before he was re-homed to us, it would appear that he is continuing a former lifestyle, and is happy to do so. Sheena is a lot happier having a hearing dog in the house now, and relies on Toby to let her know when to bark her head off loudly! She can hear him, somehow, even if she can’t see him so it cannot be body language – perhaps it is a change in the scent he puts out. She will rush out of the house to the drive gate as fast as her stiff legs will allow, fur at all angles looking as if she has been electrocuted, ready to offer defence against all comers, but if she realises that Toby is barking at shadows she will nudge him sharply in the ribs and go indoors to lie down and await his sheepish (or shepherdish) return. The photograph below was taken the day after we collected Toby – he settled in very easily, bless him.

SheenaArkHome3

Fortunately Toby is a bit of a wimp and happy to defer to Sheena in all things, as we hoped and expected that he would, being such a gentle giant. She for her part has adopted the “in charge” attitude, well aware of her status and more than able to enforce it despite their size and age difference, and her being nearly fifteen now as near as we can work out, and somewhat stiff in the joints. She will, for instance, deliberately lie in a doorway, knowing full well that Toby will not try and get past her unless we cover her face with our hands and command him to “come through”. She surprised us on one occasion, reminscent of the “collie nip” (she is a GSD x Rough Collie), by curling her lips at Toby, growling and lunging at him when he tried to greet me before she did. Toby back-peddled and hid behind Bryn, and has never tried that again! It has given her a new lease of life, having another dog in the pack. Even so, she is still delighted to go to sleep on his bushy tail, or rest her head on his back, or just touch his body with a paw, when they settle down to rest during the evening. She still claims the towel-covered settee at night, and he has the duvet bed and pillow. The vet says that Toby’s hips are excellent, but that perhaps Toby has learnt to be cautious and not exercise a lot over the years and it is now a habit he won’t ever grow out of. As long as both dogs are happy we don’t mind if they want to rest a lot.

We send our eternally grateful thanks to the Oldies Club, where we found Sheena. We expected to give Sheena a comfortable retirement home for perhaps a few months, and are thrilled that she is still with us over two years later.

SheenaArkHome2

Rosie & Bryn,
near Colchester,
Essex

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SheenaWoods

Sheena had a very sad story to tell when she arrived at The Ark in Lincolnshire. She waited at The Ark for a long time, but it was all worthwhile, as she tells us in this update on her new life:

“I was coming back from a walk with a couple of the friends who looked after me at The Ark when I saw these people. The visitors made a fuss of me, well, so do my friends at The Ark, and they wanted me to go for a walk with them. I was on the way back from one, and really wanted to be with my Ark friends, so plodded along with these visitors, reluctantly. I hope they don’t think this is how I normally walk. Horse riders, other dogs and motorcycles passed us in a short space of time, all heading along the track towards the beach. I’d seen it all before, so didn’t take any notice. This seemed to please the visitors, who kept telling me what a good girl I was. I rather liked having people other than my kennel friends say nice things to me, so I licked each of them in turn to show my appreciation. We didn’t walk very far and soon turned back to The Ark. They had visited me in an estate car, and opened the back to get out some treats that they had bought with them. I jumped into the back as soon as they opened it, much to everyone’s surprise, and stood looking out at them. I had no intention of getting out again, so they were allowed to take me home with them, after some paperwork had been completed, and I had eaten some treats. They were given the medication that I had been taking, but I hoped that I wasn’t going to need it anymore. When I came into The Ark, my fur was so matted that it all had to be shaved off by the Vet. The medicine was to stop me “leaking”, a common complaint in old age, but in my case it was only nervousness and unhappiness because my original family had abandoned me that had made it happen. We stopped three times on the way home, and each time I got out and went for a sniff. I do so love sniffing; my nose is always finding new scents to enjoy. I think they were all surprised at how strongly I can pull towards a scent, and how determined I can be to get somewhere. They didn’t mind, ‘though, and were delighted when I met this poodle at the first rest stop and made instant friends with it. Well, I had just come from being in a place with lots of other dogs, why wouldn’t I want to be friendly? They had water with them, and I was offered a drink at each rest stop, but was too excited to bother. Treats were a different thing, and they had lots of them. They kindly opened both of the rear windows so that I could sniff the air, but without me being able to put my head out fully – pity, but far better than nothing.

Home is a huge garden, with big enclosing fences all round it, and a strong, escape-proof but see-through barred gate, all designed to make a dog feel safe. There is a wildlife pond, and mummy only had to show me once how to easily drink from it, after I walked across the bog garden to reach it and nearly fell in, because I am very swift at learning new things. The pond isn’t very deep ‘though, as I have already stood in it. Please don’t tell mummy that my coat wasn’t wet from rolling in the wet grass – I love doing that too. If I get wet, I get dried. I love my face and ears being dried, but don’t like my back feet being touched as I am ticklish, although I accept that it is part of the rules of this pack, and it is handy when mummy pulls out debris caught between my toes. I have a beautiful big pine bed, lined with a thick duvet and with pillows at each end. I do prefer to go to sleep on the big settee, with my head resting on another pillow. My pack are not house-proud, which means that I can lie where I wish. I sense from the smells emanating from parts of the house that other dogs have lain there in times past, and it makes me feel relaxed, so I tend to lie in the same places. Right from the start I decided that they could step over me, as I trusted them not to step on me. I know that I lie in some really awkward places at times, but on occasions I feel the need to be tightly enclosed by solid things to remind me that this is my forever home now. Of course, I also lay on the floor spread out like a trestle table, pairs of legs together with back and head straight. I lie in this manner when I am dreaming, and I run swiftly in my dreams, legs flailing away as I give chase. I growl and bark noisily too, although little sound is heard by mummy and daddy, but I know that they can see my tummy shake as I do.

SheenaAsleep

I have a home-made feeding station so that I can stand and eat, which helps my digestion. There is always water and dry food available, and in the mornings I get the remainder of the milk from daddy’s cereal. In the evening mummy always says, “I will save you some”. I do not know what it means exactly, but when they have finished eating dinner, there is always something tasty to be added to my evening meal. I lie, apparently asleep, but actually watching for the things that they use for eating to be finally laid down. That is my cue to raise my head and look hopeful. I do like my walks. Mummy and Daddy are astonished at how far I want to walk, and tried to keep them short at first. Now they know that when I think that they are getting tired, I will walk close beside them rather than ranging ahead on the long lead. Then we will stop for a short time as they get their breaths back; I lie down to rest to make them feel better, and then we head homewards. There are lots of fields, and woods, and the village of course – masses of smells to enjoy. I meet other dogs, and some are friendly and some are not. The latter I ignore as life is so sweet and I have so much catching up to do – I was at The Ark for a long time. I enjoy putting cats to flight if I come across them, but will not chase them. I sit and watch them for a little while before continuing with my walk, as I get more fun out of their puzzlement because I do not chase them, rather than because I do. Rabbits, however, are a different thing altogether. I nearly pulled daddy over the other night when we were walking across the fields by bright moonlight, when I put up a rabbit and he didn’t see it. If I had been loose… Well, perhaps not, after all I am twelve years old, but getting younger by the day, as I rediscover things that I did as a youngster. I like plunging into the stream (and the pond, but don’t tell mummy), and spending a long time chewing large beef vertebrae bones, which are cleaning my teeth wonderfully. My bad breath is going as my teeth get whiter, and although I don’t really like the smell of them, mummy raves about the dental sticks that I eat one of each day. I do not like to let mummy out of my sight, and have head-butted the bathroom door so many times in frustration at being left that now she leaves it ajar so that I can join her in there as well, whatever she is doing. I am sure that I will become less clingy as I stay here longer, but I still get worried that I will lose this pack as well.

I went to the Vet after I had been with this pack for two days, and I was given a clean bill of health. My vaccinations were bought up-to-date, and I was wormed. The Vet said I was a very good girl, made a fuss of me, and said to bring me back in another two weeks for the final vaccination. I weighed in at 28.15kg, which surprised Mummy and Dave (daddy was at work), but I am a sturdy girl still, despite my age. I went to the Vet’s again three days ago, and have put on 1.3kg, but that is not too bad because I am walking about seven miles on average over the course of a day, what with my two walks, and following mummy everywhere. I am making muscle again, and today Mummy led me off the lead over the fields so that I could run if I wanted, which I did. But not too far from mummy.

I go everywhere with mummy, as she is at home all the time, and daddy is at work. Dave left after a week, and I wondered where he went, so stayed even closer to mummy. Daddy is gone now, but I sense that he will be coming back, although mummy has been spending most of the night downstairs with me to reassure me that she will not leave. For my first two nights here, mummy slept downstairs with me, whilst daddy went upstairs and Dave went out to his van, where I used to visit him the next day to see if he was awake and coming for a walk. Next, mummy went upstairs for part of the night, until I felt confident enough to stay downstairs on my own all night. I have night-lights in all the rooms to make me feel less nervous in what is still a strange place. I am going to the local training club every Sunday morning, more as a social thing than because I need to learn things, although the more I things I do, the more I remember what I used to do, such as offering a paw in the hope of getting a treat!

I hope that my story, so far, will encourage other people to give a home to an older dog. We can still have fun, each according to our abilities and needs, and have so very much love to give.

I am such a happy girl, and want to thank the Oldies Club for helping me find my new pack and my forever home.”

SheenaPawprint Sheena