And so it came to pass that Bess and Brān were handed over from the loving care of their foster Dad, across the border to Wales. How would they cope with yet another transition? Would they jump into any more canals? Would they ever learn Welsh? Well,Brān at least has a head start - his name means 'Raven' in Welsh, as in the famous castle of Dinas Brān in Llangollen and he certainly has more than a passing interest in the surrounding birds...rabbits...ducks..oh and the 900+ sheep and lambs he and Bess now live next door to! (And cows and pigs and chickens and sheep dogs....)
Working with Cesar Millan's 'Dog Whisperer' philosophy, Bess and Brān are receiving the magic formula of Exercise, Discipline (most needed in the kitchen department!) and Affection. They have been fantastic when left in the house, and when taken in the car. They are now also fine overnight and have quickly got the hang of using the garden first thing for toiletry matters and a bit of a burst of energy run-round. They have now also started to realise that the garden is quite a nice place to hang out and have a good chew of a hide ring. They have also discovered the therapeutic and relaxing benefits of sheepskin rugs and welsh blankets. Bess in particular is often to be found perching on a pink sofa with her head nestled in sheepskin. (When a human is not using it of course.) It has been suggested that this liking for sheepskin might be a cunning wolfy trick to blend in with their sheepy surroundings! Could well be, mixed in with a bit of a comfort-hound thing going on!!
The pair have settled well...apart from their ongoing food-stealing obsessions and a tendency to like a bit of a midnight party if they're not utterly tired out before bedtime...joking aside, they are now truly making friends with their new family - Brān the bold has been first to do this, liking to come and politely 'ask' for a head rub and stand there patiently whilst he gets it. Bess has been more shy and hesitant, which was expected given her history. But little by little she is coming to realise that life in Wales is really not bad and is slowly coming out of her shell. Whenever she displays a more balanced state of mind, she is rewarded with either a food treat or gentle affection to show her that this is the behaviour required for her to move on and leave any sad history where it belongs, firmly in the past. As per the wisdom of the Dog Whisperer, low self-esteem dogs do take a bit longer to rehabilitate than others so this is a work in progress.
A trip to the beach on Bank Holiday Monday was a bit alarming for the dark duo - though they had enjoyed trips to the beach with their foster family before, this beach was packed out with visitors enjoying the hot sunshine. Brān in particular found this more stressful than enjoyable. But after being kept at it, he eventually realised nothing bad was happening to him and came home without incident.
Also, they have a new pack leader, after losing their 'top dog' Willow, they now have a 3 year old human boss. Fortunately she was born with a dog in the same room, so she is pretty au fait with the ways of hounds, especially if they dare to show too much interest in her breakfast..they do seem to enjoy the leftovers though!
All this and more in less than a week - Bess and Brān were given a magnificent solid foundation of love and care by all at MRGT and in particular by their foster family, which is making their continued rehabilitation so much easier to build on. Their forever home in the Welsh hills had a very large lurcher-sized hole in it, left by the death of the irreplaceable much-loved Marley. Bess and Brān are gradually carving out their own niches, allowing Marley's memory to linger alongside them. 'Diolch yn fawr i pawb a MRGT'