Monthly Archives: July 2012

toggles and respect…

The story of Brin was being featured in many magazines and this was proving very beneficial in supporting the charity Nowzad who had enabled him to come home.

Many people wished to meet him and as I had always said that ‘I would never forget the others’ I felt that taking him round to places would also be a good way of sharing the work Nowzad do.

Travelling with Brin had never proved to be a problem as he enjoyed the adventure, often sitting up at the window and watching the world go by.

Our first visit was to the local Guides and I was to give them a small talk on the life of animals in Afghanistan and the journey Brin took to make it home. I was a little nervous as this was still quite early days for him but he seemed to like fuss and had never shown any dislike to children.

In fact the only ‘human’ problem I had incurred with him was young asian men, people with walking sticks and woman carrying babies in their arms. He always would stop if a child was being carried and try to jump to ‘have a look’. There was no aggression but just serious inquisitiveness that was often quite awkward! Even to this day, Brin becomes quite jumpy if anyone is carrying something. Some times he would take a mild dislike to someone but a swift about turn would quickly change his attention. It was just another thing to be aware of.

The guide meeting went really well, with Brin parading around allowing each and everyone to have a stroke. I was amazed at how well he coped with it all and the crowd adored him, even presenting him with a chew bone wrapped in a ribbon. The children asked really interesting questions about the animals over there and I enjoyed sharing the stories of the many cats and dogs saved by Nowzad.

The next port of call was Swindon. Another troop, this time the Scouts, who had raised an amazing £1,000 for the charity. Brin’s story had inspired them and so I was asked to bring him along for a presentation and film show.

Brin was getting used to long journey’s by now and even the hotel where we booked were excited to have him! There was quite a gathering in the reception when we arrived and they even upgraded us to a large room at no extra charge! Brin was certainly getting the star treatment!

In the room there was a lovely clean dog bed ready and waiting…

but Brin had other ideas.

I never like leaving him in a room so I ordered room service as I hadn’t eaten all day. After about 20 minutes a knock came and Brin set too with one of his ear-splitting barks. Grabbing the lead and holding him tight I opened the door to find a quivering girl holding a tray with copious amounts of spilt coffee swimming about near my meal. I felt so sorry for her as she continuously apologised for the mess.

Walking Brin is always a bit difficult around hotel grounds. There is little grass and often broken glass around the roadways. We managed to find a large piece of wasteland and, in the dark, we ambled round and round while he set about his business. It would be quite exhausting really as both of us were far from home and it often felt very isolated surrounded by motorways and the sound of heavy traffic. But we always got through it and his company was fun, gentle and attentive.

The next morning was an early start as the BBC wanted a live interview with the Scout leader and myself. At 7am they picked Brin and me up and we drove to the studio. It was a cold day with a bitter wind and it was decided by the programme that they wanted the interview to be recorded outside, to add ‘atmosphere’.

I felt coffee and a warm fire would had added that but out we went and huddled in a corner of a car park waiting for the cue to start talking.

All went well, despite my slight concern after being told there was a cat that lived at the back of the car park and when the interview was over I was kindly driven back to my hotel.

Before the Scout meeting I decided I would like to go to Royal Wooten Bassett to pay my respects to a town who had seen so many of our fallen pass through. It was a bustling, pretty place full of history and pageantry and, although, I did not get out with Brin due to the many dogs around I was glad to be able to sit for a while in relative peace and think about the bravery and strength so many families had shown in such sad circumstances.

The Scout meeting went well. Brin trotted in to be met by around 60 people who had come to hear about the work Nowzad achieve for the animals in Afghanistan.

Brin was given his own scout scarf and behaved brilliantly until one moment when a sack of food for dogs arrived.

I had always stressed that no food must be given to him or be near him but there is always someone who, although well meaning, forgets this rule. This is why, at all times, I watch Brin.

Two boys dragged the bag over before I could stop them and Brin decided that he needed to ‘protect’ it. Of course, it wasn’t his finest hour, but to his credit he just throws out a warning shot with no actual malice or teeth!

Bag removed and all was calm once more and after a couple of photos from the local paper it was time to leave.

It is quite exhausting to meet so many new people, especially as I, personally, have never been one to put myself out there. Having Brin has given me confidence to share something that changed my life forever and, through his story, I have found a way of overcoming so many obstacles in my own life.

Many people say, “it’s wonderful that you cared enough to save Brin”…but deep down I know that we saved each other and, as we collapsed on the hotel bed together at the end of a very long day, I felt grateful to have him in my life.

Together we both have learnt so much. Trust, companionship, consistency, and loyalty. We were both lacking that in our lives and I know, throughout the many years we will be together, that these things will continue to become stronger and stronger.


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Pleasure and pain…

Brin had been home for nearly a year and he had seen his first Christmas and New Year in with love, warmth and lots of new toys.

Looking back at that year from the ending of his time in quarantine to learning so many new things I often would look back at just how much my life had changed also.

Of course I adored him and marvelled at his ability to learn but I also had times when pure exhaustion would take over from his ‘ghosts’ what would blight our walks in the forest, issues with family members along with protecting me, even from loved ones.

There were times I be so stretched to the limit I would sometimes resent the effort, day after day, of trying to build his confidence while I was losing mine.

I always knew it would not be easy, and although the good times were beginning to outweigh the bad, it would often seem like a mountain to climb each and every day.

It was one day in March 2012 that something happened that completely broke my heart. Brin came loose from his harness in the forest, all 300 acres of it, and nothing would make him stop running… or come back.

I had been chatting to lady who had recognised Brin from an article in a recent magazine and while doing so Brin had been exploring a hedge. He had disappeared into it and, although I never normally take my eyes of him I had carried on chatting as I could feel the tension on his lead..what I didn’t know that Brin was not attached anymore and the lead was, indeed, stuck on a branch.

I cannot describe the horror of seeing Brin running full pelt down the path way. I shouted as loud as I could to walkers to try to grab him but realised that he did not have his usual collar on. This was something I had never forgotten to do before and my fear deepened as he leapt over banks and disappeared into the undergrowth.

My other dog, Jake, seemed to know something was wrong and stuck my me as I ran full pelt after Brin. The pain in my stomach intensified  as he reappeared, looked at me wagging his tail, and then continued down the path at lightening speed.

We reached a crossroad in the forest and luckily he chose the narrower one leading up to an area where there were lots of small ponds and I knew he would stop to drink. Running after him I found him deep in water and walked in after him, soaking my trousers up to my knees. Bending down to try to loop the harness around his neck he backed up and took off once more up the hill into an area where the tree became very dense.

By this time I was in full panic with the awful realisation that I may not ever catch him.

At the top I watched in dismay as he ran through the trees and deep into tall grasses and disappeared. There was no way I would ever find him in there and it stretched as far as the eye could see.

Sitting down on the damp grass I started to cry. Brin had gone. There was no movement of grass and no areas or paths to follow. He had vanished.

Jake sat next to me as I gathered my thoughts for the only thing I could think of was to go back to the car park and ring for help.

It was then I saw him.

Two eyes, about 30ft in front of me, peered out through the bracken.

Remembering something I saw on a programme many months before I decided not to go towards him, but to stand up and walk away. It was a hard decision but proved to be the right one.

Brin came back and trotted by my side, sniffing the trees as if nothing had happened. Ignoring my pounding heart I pretended to search in among the leaves for something drawing Brins attention and by doing this managed to loop his harness over his neck. He did not resist at all as if saying ‘that was fun but enough now!’.

Brin now has a tracker collar that is linked to my phone as well as two other trusted people.

We call it his ‘Where’s Wally’ collar and it has been a godsend.

As well as reminding me that Afghan dogs are a master of escape and always need a watchful eye it reinstated  the deep, deep love I held for this guy despite everything he got up to.

Just after we got home after his ‘escape’…notice his ‘am I bothered?’ look…

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