The house felt strangely quiet after Ellie died.  Since I’d met my husband we had always shared three dogs.  He brought two into our relationship and I’d brought Ellie. Suddenly we were a two-dog family and we were all missing Ellie’s presence in our own way.  Now DBARC had more rescues looking for homes, it seemed to be fate.

Every day I would go on their website and look at these little sweethearts with their heads and tails hung low, broken but undefeated, all survivors, not to be pitied but admired for their spirit. It was in one of the many photos taken by Nellie The Noodle’s mum Julia, I first saw Ava.  She was beautiful with soulful eyes which seemed to say so much.  I fell in love.

Now began “Operation Ava”. I talked incessantly to my husband about the new arrivals at DBARC.  I insisted on showing him photographs at every available opportunity.  And finally when he accepted resistance was futile, Ava was reserved, by someone else……. I felt crushed.  It had seemed so right and now Ava wasn’t going to be part of our family. I was so pleased that someone else had appreciated this little dog with the wise eyes and consoled myself that for some reason she wasn’t destined to be with me.

I still looked at the DBARC website checking how they were all getting along and then one day, I stopped in my tracks.  Ava’s photograph appeared again, she was no longer reserved! I couldn’t wait to get on the telephone to DBARC. I asked in a faltering voice if Ava was again available for adoption. “Yes, she is” I was told, I arranged to go and see her the next day.

So, on the Saturday before Christmas 2018, my husband, myself, Lilly and Ruby all piled into the car and set off for DBARC.  We arrived long before opening time and I paced around the car park with Ruby and Lilly eager to finally meet Ava. We were helped by Anna at DBARC, she asked who we had come to see and whilst my husband and our doggies, waited I was taken in to met Ava in her kennel. There she was with her Schnauzer pals all snuggled together.  Hansel came forward to meet me sniffing my hand.  Nuala did the same.  Ava hung back.  She seemed unsure and nervous. Anna put Ava’s harness on and brought her to one of the runs at the front of the DBARC building where my husband was waiting with Lilly and Ruby.  We needed to check that they would get along. Anna left us to get to know Ava.  After the usual dog style greetings Lilly and Ruby began to wander around not showing much interest in Ava, who by this time had backed herself into a corner and wasn’t interacting much at all.

We had been given some treats to try and entice Ava toward us, but she wasn’t moving.  I sat on the concrete beside her and was still. A little while later one of the volunteers at DBARC came past the run and began to chat to me.  Ava seemed more responsive when he was there but as soon as he had gone, she withdrew. Something about the way she was unable to look me in the eye melted my heart.  The tragedy of her past circumstances had wounded her deeply.  I wanted to be part of her healing process.

Just then Janet the manager at DBARC came past, she stopped to chat.  I spoke to her about Lilly (who had originally been known as Kylie) who we had adopted from DBARC three years before. I told Janet that we wanted to adopt Ava.  She said because we had been home checked prior to Lilly’s adoption, we wouldn’t need to go through that process again and that once the formalities and paper work were completed Ava could be adopted. Janet asked if we wanted to wait until after Christmas to take Ava home.  My answer of course was no.  I wanted Ava to have this, her first Christmas of freedom in our family home.

So, an hour later we were on our way home, me clutching Ava and our Mad About Schnauzers adoption pack, Ava trembling on my lap. Life was about to change forever for all of us……

Author:  Mary Reed

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