I first came across Basil (then called Sparky) on a Facebook post in November 2018. His previous owner had died, and her son had reluctantly taken him in. Despite his best efforts, he had been unable to find him a permanent home. A kind-hearted soul intervened and took him on and kennelled him while she looked for an adopter.
I didn’t really know what to expect and we were not 100% sure about it when we met the person trying to home him but taking him in led to one of the most rewarding and emotional experiences of my life.
Basil, as we renamed him, had spent the last year confined to a small bathroom and a good deal of that time was spent in the sink. When he came to us, he was extremely nervy and energetic, and quite confused. His anxiety was exacerbated by his blindness. The first few months were hard work, but he gradually settled and found his place in my family.
In time a fantastic dog emerged from the disoriented and confused shell that first came to me. He became full of cheerfulness, good humour, character, and joie de vivre. I absolutely fell in love this fellow, as did my wife and children, and he became a constant joy in my life. Over the next four and a quarter years we were inseparable.
He passed away at the age of 14 in February this year.
While I think that the bond that we formed was closer because we took him in and gave him and warm and loving home, I still cannot help but feel frustrated that this wonderful and eccentric dog ever got to the point where he was as anxious as he was, blind, and close to being put down.
It seems to me that his case points towards a requirement for greater education and awareness amongst those who own or are tasked with being responsible for an animal. I wonder what his owners, the ones who kept him confined for a year, and then wanted to put him down, were thinking during this time. I also wonder why they didn’t have his eyes looked and cured while it was still possible to have done so.
My time with Basil taught me two things. The first is: Adopt Don’t Buy. There are so many wonderful dogs out there and so many dedicated volunteers amongst the AWGs who will be more than happy to work with you to place the right sort of dog with you. These dogs need homes and by taking one in you will be rewarded with almost boundless loyalty and love.
The second is that more needs to be done to both educate and compel people to know and understand how to look after a dog and where to go to seek help if you need it. Keeping a dog in a confined space, in the say that Basil was, for so long is not only cruel in the extreme, it can also make a gentle dog turn vicious. There are other options too than simply euthanising a perfectly healthy animal. The standards of care should and must improve and education of the public must surely form a large part of making the changes that we need to see happen.