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That Saturday I stumbled across a border collie called Penny.

This is the story of Penny who I met by chance one Saturday when I was down at the local rescue centre helping to settle in some new arrivals.

Penny, border collie rescue dog

When I saw Penny for the first time, a beautiful liver and white border collie, our eyes met and I gazed into them and told her how beautiful she was and I then sat on the step outside the kennel chatting away to her. 10 minutes later a friend walked past and Penny started barking and getting herself in a real state. I promised Penny I would come back and see her and shortly I went into the main reception and said to the person there, ‘Wow that collie Penny, is the most beautiful girl I have ever seen’, she replied in a very offish voice ‘You are the only person that thinks so, she is due to be put to sleep at 9 o'clock on Monday as she is aggressive’. I was totally horrified I went back and told Penny I will be back to see her soon I drove home with tears rolling down my face. My heart was pounding, I was so angry.

I got home and my partner Hayley took one look at me to ask me what's wrong and I just burst into tears. I could not believe that this beautiful dog who had been pacing up-and-down a kennel for three months and was at a rescue centre had been condemned to death. Penny just 18 months old had been in a road traffic accident in Ireland, has a metal plate in a hind leg and had already been re-homed after coming our local rescue centre and then 3 weeks later was returned to them as apparently the owners cats didn't like her, I then found out that she had a thorn in her eye that had to be removed, up to that point, she truly did have a terrible time of it throughout her young life.

I was back down the centre the next day, in fact it was Hayley who told me to go back as I was in a right mess, she told me to go and speak with someone, we'd have Penny if needed and for me to go and sort it out due to the fact I was such a mess! When I got to the rescue centre on the Sunday and approached the person in charge I told her that I totally disagreed with their decision with reference to putting Penny to sleep. Her response to me was, ‘YOU CAN’T SAVE EVERY DOG’. I was having palpitations as she spoke, I was so angry that I was shaking. I was informed by a member of staff that I wouldn't be able to foster her due to her being aggressive (although she hadn’t actually bitten anyone). I had had enough at this point and phoned the manager, even though it was her weekend off and told her that she could NOT put Penny to sleep, I would take her and that she must cancel the appointment at the vets for the next day.

She said she would have to ask the committee and would get back to me and thankfully a lovely volunteer at the centre also had a real connection with Penny and desperately wanted me to save her too. The appointment at the vets was cancelled and I had a meeting with the manager who asked me, ‘Why do you want to save Penny, why don't you adopt or foster one of the Portuguese dogs instead?’ my response, ‘Penny is on my doorstep and deserves a chance to have a life’. I then asked her who had made the decision to have Penny put to sleep, she told me the kennel staff. NO COMMENT.

To be honest, I could understand why Penny wasn’t happy. A very intelligent collie pacing up and down a small concrete kennel 23 hours a day for three months, people starting at her, dogs barking constantly and energies running high all around her. Not an ideal environment for any dog let alone a border collie.

The day I rescued Penny and took her home

I am totally saddened as I feel that Penny has been failed by the system. Penny was suffering from severe kennel stress and anxiety. I think even I would have gone stir crazy too if I was stuck in that environment for 3 months, wouldn't you? Eventually the decision was made and they made me sign a document to say that I was taking Penny against their wishes and she would have to be muzzled in public at all times. I took Penny home with me that day.

One week later I found a big lump under Penny’s throat, the size of a golf ball. I took her to the local vet and they immediately admitted her. I had to hold her in my arms until she was asleep from the anesthetic and I was by her side when she came around. She was given the all clear on the biopsy seven days later, I cannot tell you how relieved I was, Hayley was. I had been really worried all the time she was at the vets. The vet said it was a build-up of stress that had caused this mass to appear in her lymph gland and after 2 weeks of treatment and tender loving care the lump disappeared. This was 15 months ago.

Happy ever after

Penny needed time and patience and some space to clear her head. She needed someone to understand how she was feeling and most importantly look at it all from her point of view. Penny still doesn't like people staring at her and in particular men in hats but she is a truly wonderful happy gorgeous girl and is doing wonderful at flyball of which her and Hayley go to once a week. I have a truly special connection with Penny, I cried one day as I was trying to help a dog out hundreds of miles away and Penny licked my tears away, I'm pleased to say, I sorted out the dog! I was definitely meant to meet Penny that day, Penny had been waiting for me too, it's definitely fate. And.. Although Penny and I have a very special bond, she shouldn't forget that Hayley made me go back and fight for her.. That's when 4 became 5!

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