The visit was different this time, Bruce's main owner was in hospital and she was seriously ill. So ill in fact, no one was sure if she'd pull through. The boys were doing their best to keep it together and it was heartbreaking to see the pain etched in their faces. They had not long moved into a new house, and their living conditions seemed far better, they were managing to keep on top of the house in between visits to the hospital, they were looking after themselves and ensuring they ate regularly, but it was obvious they were under a lot of stress and the concern for their Mum was hard to hide. There was little we could do to help except offer moral support, but there was one thing they asked us to do, while their Mum was in hospital, could we look after Bruce?
A lead was eventually found, his bowls were gathered and we asked what they could tell us regards his daily routine/habits. The ensuing information had me wondering if I was taking home the hound from hell: He would only settle if in the same room, if you closed the door on him he'd likely chew through it. He wouldn't have anyone walk him, putting a lead on him was the nearest anyone could get to a walk, from there it was downhill and the walks never happened. He urinated and defecated in the house. He chewed things up, including the sofa. He would attack Cats and Birds. "He didn't like paki's". ( No prizes for guessing who these boys would have voted, had they ever bothered to get out and vote). He Didn't like being left on his own and would Bark and destroy things. The list went on. The most positive things I could get from them was that he liked play fighting and cuddling up in bed to sleep.
I was feeling like I was making a huge mistake, be in well over my head and about to witness my home destroyed around me. I looked at my friend, who looked a suddenly funny shade of pale and I knew she was equally as bemused by the situation. I also knew we were both singing from the same hymn sheet. We had always felt for this Dog, and we knew he had one or two things going on that we'd loved to get him to see a vet for. Ok, it wasn't a permanent arrangement, but it took a little stress off the family and gave us the chance to get him checked over and fed up. We'd face the issue of his return when and if the time came. Besides, in the forefront of my mind, obviously left unspoken, as much as the family were going through, Bruce needed this break away more than anyone.
It took me about 30 minutes to get Bruce to accept being on the lead, and stop trying to wrestle with me enough to get him out of the door. He got in the car, tail wagging like an helicopter, and while my friend drove, I was covered in slobbery kisses and generally drenched in doggie drool.
We got him in the house, straight to the back door, which was opened and left open. Within less than 2 minutes, out he went and piddled on the rose bush. I'd followed him out, and heaped praise on him. He looked at me like he was in Doggie Heaven. Most importantly on Bruce's List of priorities, he was fed. We all know what it's like to see a Dog who normally gets scraps and food fed to them, as and when, with no real routine. Needless to say, given the chance, he'd have eaten and eaten and eaten. Once he was absolutely sure that the bowl was indeed polished clean, he dived straight out of the back door again and proceeded to scent mark every corner and bush of the garden. I guess he decided this place would be acceptable for tonight at least.
We sorted him out a bed, and I gave him a quick look over. There was a wound on his tail, his claws needed a clipping, he was a little thin, but not actually too thin. His teeth seemed fine. My biggest concern was his stomach, as he'd had the runs when we'd seen him at he house, and the wound on his tail needed looking at. All in all though, he seemed fine. He took to his bed no problem, and after a little bit of fuss and reassurance, he was asleep. So I decided to let him rest some before taking him out for a walk before bedtime, and the probable restless night ahead.........