Three times a week I would travel down after work to spend 2 hours with Brin.
At first he would be very pleased to see me and we would play with his toys for a while but then he would become distracted and watchful, spending most of his time gazing out of his kennel drawing in deep breaths through his nose as if drinking in everything around him.
Eating was a major activity and, at first, the adrenalin rush would make him unsteady on his feet and he would lean against the wall until the moment passed. Regular food was still something to get used to and his diet was carefully monitored at this time. When he arrived he weighed only 21kg and through his coat signs of a rib broken some time ago protruded sharply.
There was a concern that he may also be deaf as he was so, so quiet despite all the barking and activity surrounding him. Later, I would learn that this was something he had learnt in Afghanistan and that to stay quiet around barking dogs was a way of surviving and he still does this to this day.
I would bring a book to read on my visits and Brin would chose to come in to me, just to check I was still there. I chose not to be overboard with cuddles and interaction at first but rather to let it take it’s course.
Other visitors to other dogs would play and run about the kennels and when it was time for them to leave the dogs would howl. Brin showed signs of being very content where he was and I did not feel that to encourage him to be too active at this stage would beneficial to his wellbeing.
His toy collection grew over the weeks and this included a toy bought with the money donated by the soldier as promised.
Nothing was ever destroyed and he treasured each and every one of them.
Gradually, he began to enjoy being brushed although some areas of his body proved a problem and he would let me know by swinging his head round as if giving a little warning. I respected that.
During the late summer months we would sit together in the sunshine, me reading and Brin content to keep guard at the front of his kennel. He still had little intention of making moves towards me unless a snack was involved but that was fine by me.
His first bath showed what we always suspected. A cost of many, many colours ranging from red to black. A short, soft coat with two layers, one to keep him cool during the unrelenting heat while living in the desert and the other to keep him warm during the bitter nights. The change in temperature in the UK caused him to scratch as the humidity was something he was not used to. His eyes began to clear from the constant stream of gluey material caused by stress and poor condition and before our eyes we were beginning to see Brin in all his true glory.
A month in quarantine and Brin was doing really well. But what he didn’t know was that a huge surprise was awaiting him just around the corner…