Dog Squad Blog – The Real Sandy

The narrator of The Island Dog Squad, AKA Fish.

Our rescue dog Sandy inspired my Dog Squad series.

The real Sandy is completely different to her character in the books and this is how she came to live with us.

Early last year I decided I wanted a dog. My husband Allan said he didn’t and I knew for it to happen we needed to be in agreement. I was determined so decided to work on him. ObviouslyI won because you know we have Sandy, but I didn’t get it all my own way.

Allan had his eye on a second hand BMW XR3 so we struck a deal and depleted our savings. I didn’t mind, as I was to get my wish.

There are loads of rescue centres in Cyprus. Sadly, cruelty to animals is endemic and you often see dogs wandering the streets after being dumped by owners who no longer want them, especially at the end of the hunting season when they’re deemed to have served their purpose. The centres are always full and there are as many kind people here as there are cruel. Some of the abandoned dogs are saved and sent to other parts of Europe.

I scanned the rescue centres via Facebook and loved the look of an eight month old German Shepherd called Charlotte. Before choosing our dog, I spoke with a dog trainer friend who advised me to use my head as well as my heart. I was excited the morning we were to visit the centre but it was short lived. Poor Charlotte was so traumatised she could barely look at us and cowered at the back of her cage crying. It was sad but we both knew we didn’t have the skills or patience to train a dog with so many problems. We were shown around and I could see the hurt and pain in the eyes of some of the dogs. It was heart breaking and I could only imagine what they’d been through. At least they were now being treated well.

Charlotte has since been trained and adopted by caring owners

The staff thought we might be interested in another dog and it was let out of the cage. This one was eighteen months old and it acted like it had overdosed on energy drinks. The dog dodged the lead and ran to the other end of the enclosure. Then he turned and headed back towards us at full pelt. My inner drama queen surfaced, and I held my breath, believing I was going to die. (I had been attacked by a dog as a youngster and although there was no lasting physical harm, I had a few issues and can be wary of dogs I don’t know.) The man managed to grab him before the dog had a chance to leap. I realisedI wouldn’t be able to handle a fully-grown German Shepherd, so we left and crossed that one off our list.

Bo was adopted and taken to her forever home in June 2018

Back to Facebook, the BARC (British Animal Rehoming Centre) site came up in my newsfeed with a photo of a cute little dog nameBo. I arranged to visit but on the day, didn’t even get as far as Bo’s cage. Someone else caught my attention and I knew instantly that she was the one for us.

Allan liked Sansa as much as I did and we took her for walks during the next few weeks to ensure the feeling was mutual. We arranged the adoption date, sorted out the papers and brought her home on the 14thMarch. We changed her name and she started answering to Sandy almost straight away.

Sandy soon settled in and was as good as gold. We thought it unusual that she didn’t bark and it was a big shock during week seven when she found her voice when someone knocked at the door. She now barks to let us know if somebody is coming but other than that she’s a quiet dog. If she wants to go out she paws us or makes a crying sound and if other dogs bark from their gardens while we’re out walking, she tends to ignore them. On the odd occasion she’s taken an instant dislike to passing dogs and has barked at them and she did try to mount a beautiful white German Shepherd once – they hadn’t even had a date!

Sandy continues to be a model dog and is great fun. Besides for Allan and food, her favouritethings include cuddles, tennis balls, and her toy duck; the order depends on her mood. If she doesn’t like a new trick I’m attempting to teach her, her default position is to lie on her back with her legs in the air, tail wagging manically. She’s so cute and loveable and is exactly the right dog for us.

I can’t say we weren’t happy before we had Sandy, but she’s definitely made our lives better and I can’t imagine life without her.

A walk up at Troodos

During the following weeks you’ll hear about other Dog Squad members and a few of those who made guest appearances in my series.

If you have an interesting tale (tail?) to tell about your dog and would like to feature on this blog, please let me know. And if you want to check out ‘The Island Dog Squad’ novellas, click here