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Rescue Dog Ben’s Story
Ben is a truly remarkable dog, and got the second chance of a wonderful life through Springer Rescue Scotland. His journey with the charity started out in 2011, when he was adopted by Karen Hudson.
It was a match made in heaven, after they had been patiently waiting for a dog for about a year. In fact, they almost gave up after applying for several other spaniels through the charity’s website, but the match was definitely meant to be!
Karen told us that when she spotted Ben on the website “He stood out because he was a very handsome wee boy, and from his photo it was obvious that his left front leg was missing.” He lost his leg after being attacked by another dog when he was just 5 months old, but it was clear from the positive write-up that he had plenty of personality, and was a bubbly and outgoing dog.
Ben was 5 years old at this point, and to understand his journey it’s worth mentioning the way Springer Rescue Scotland handles the many dogs they rehome every year. Firstly, dogs are placed in foster care with one of the charity’s volunteers. This way they can really get to know the dogs and identify any obvious medical issues. This is a vital part of the rehoming process as it helps ensure that dogs get the best chance of the right forever-home for them.
Although Karen was not at all put off by Ben’s missing leg, her 15-year-old son Liam was worried Ben maybe wouldn’t be as happy as a 4-legged spaniel. However, they agreed to at least go and meet Ben to see what they thought. Shortly after that, a visit to Ben’s foster home was arranged.
Karen recalls that moment “There were 2 very excited dogs bouncing around the room. We sat down and one of the dogs leapt up onto the back of the sofa and promptly put his head on Liam’s shoulder. We were both taken a bit by surprise by this to be honest. I looked over at Liam with that ‘… what do you think?’ look on my face and he just nodded back. That was it. Love at first sight.”
Ben settled into his new forever-home very quickly and the family loved him to bits. For the casual observer who saw Ben out on his walks, he moved so quickly and smoothly that few ever noticed that he had a leg missing.
Like all Springers, Ben loves water, especially muddy puddles, and he loves swimming. Now living in the country, he was just so excited with his new-found freedom after living in the city all his life. He is also a very affectionate dog, and his family have given him the name “Velcro Dog”, since he likes to stick to one of his humans whenever they are at home. About 3 years after adopting Ben, the family noticed a change in his behaviour.
Karen explained, “Around the beginning of 2015, when Ben was about 9 years old, he started to lie down when I took him out for walks.” After several visits to the vet, X-Rays were taken and a shocking discovery made – Ben had severe arthritis in the elbow joint of his remaining leg. After everything he’d already dealt with, this was a devastating blow. Despite the vet being pessimistic about Ben’s future, the family refused to give up on their beloved dog. After visiting an orthopaedic specialist, they ruled out surgery, as it would be impossible to keep him off his one leg during the recuperation period.
Karen said “This is when we started to look for other solutions. I started looking online for sets of wheels to see what was out there. I wondered if you could get front sets of wheels for dogs. Eventually, I found a photograph of a dog walking along a muddy forest track wearing a set of solid-looking front wheels. As soon as I saw that picture, I knew that was exactly what Ben needed - a set of all-terrain wheels to give him back his freedom.”
Karen discovered the wheels came from America, custom-built by an amazing family company called Eddie’s Wheels. They provided measurement templates, for Ben’s specific dimensions and a month later, his wheels arrived, fully formed and all put together.
“Getting the wheels right for him actually took quite a while and we thought we would never get there at one point. The problem was it was trial-and-error as we had to test Ben out in them every time we made a small adjustment. Ben had no concept of helping us out by taking them for a gentle test drive to see how they were doing. He would have none of it and just tore off at 100 miles an hour and then flip them over. It was scary for us because we thought he was going to hurt himself, but actually, he was fine. We did get there in the end.”
Just over 2 years later, Ben is still doing just fine. He’s even in the same set of wheels! The family have a carefully managed exercise and diet plan for Ben, to help protect his arthritic leg as much as possible. He’s now 11 and still enjoying life to the maximum.
Karen told us “Ben is just a very happy dog. Everyone comments out on walks what a waggy tail he’s got. He looks like the happiest dog ever. Delighted with himself most of the time and happiest when he is covered in mud.”
As well as a loveable family pet, Ben has another side to him. He goes to Karen’s part-time job working with homeless young people. She said he helps break down barriers with young people who have difficulties in their lives, and they just love him.
It’s clear that Ben has enriched the lives of his adoptive family, and Karen said “Ben has made such a difference to our lives and has given us so much. He is such a tenacious, happy little dog and has repaid us 10-fold. Best decision we ever made.”
What's so good about Ben’s story is that Karen’s family gave Ben a chance. Many people may dismiss the idea of adopting a dog with an apparent disability, without even giving it a second thought, but Ben’s story proves that it’s possible for a fulfilling life for both the dog and his/her family.
We can’t thank Karen enough for sharing Ben’s story. What an amazing and inspiring little dog he is. Let’s not forget Karen and her family’s role here either. So many people would have simply passed Ben by because he was missing a limb. This family did not. Then they stood by him when Ben needed them most and they refused to give up on him.
This is exactly what Springer Rescue Scotland was set up to do – give every spaniel the life they deserve, and Ben’s story is definitely a very happy one for all involved.
(Thanks to Lindsay Roberts Photography http://www.lindsayrobertsonphotography.co.uk/ for her generosity in going to see Ben and taking the beautiful photographs you see here.)