The sight of the two malnourished, scared and overwhelmed new additions tugged at the heartstrings of Animals in Need (AIN) staff.
Their arrival at the Little Irchester site from another trusted rescue centre must have been a difficult time for the animals. But it’s not so easy for the staff to deal with these sorts of cases either.
“It breaks your heart when you have dogs coming to you in this state,” says Beki Kelly, who has spent the past three years working at the centre, “As animal lovers all we want to do is help, but it can be quite emotionally exhausting.
“The first thing you feel is anger and disbelief. It can be difficult to understand how a dog can be left to get into this sort of state.
“They were a bit confused and overwhelmed by the new environment but it didn’t take them long to settle down once they realised they were safe,” Beki recalls, “When they first arrived they were a little cautious, especially Zena, but she took her lead and confidence from Lola who seemed to take everything in her stride. Zena would bark at us at first but would quickly follow Lola’s lead and approach us for a sniff. When she saw us make a fuss of Lola she quickly came round.”
The two pals were in terrible shape when they arrived in June; the pups were underweight, diagnosed with demodectic mange, a mite driven inflammatory disease which had been left untreated for so long that Lola was struggling with complete baldness and Zena was faring only slightly better.
Their skin was pink, sore and scabbed from the constant irritation.
Treatment began as soon as they arrived at AIN, with Lola taking medicated baths to aid recovery.
Sadly, both dogs were struggling with other completely preventable health issues too.
“Lola has rickets, which is generally caused by an insufficient diet and a lack of Vitamin D, and Zena had cherry eye and entropion, which has been operated on and will hopefully make her feel much more comfortable.”
It’s not known if the girls are related, but they are thought to be around seven years old, and for much of their lives they had been confined to the inside of a property.
Dogs that by nature should have boundless energy and an inquisitive nature had been denied the opportunity to do what dogs do.
Despite their terrible past, these two carry no resentment.
“They are so loving, happy and eager to please,” Beki said, “They have shown us nothing but love and trust. Given the circumstances I would understand if they felt differently.
“I try not to judge these situations though; our goal is to help the animal. We don’t know the full story behind any neglect case and although I don’t condone what has happened to them, I would also prefer and encourage any owner that may be having trouble to reach out and get help as soon as possible, before it gets out of hand.”
Beki is known at AIN for having a special connection to pooches. What’s that all about?
“I think I’ve always had an affinity with dogs and that’s what led me to pursue a career in rescue. I try to take my lead from the dog in front of me; I don’t expect anything from them and I won’t push them to do anything they are uncomfortable with.
“If they are scared and frightened and letting me know that they need space, then I’ll give them that – I’ll sit nearby and let them come to me when they are ready. If they need reassurance or a cuddle because they are confused by their new situation, I’ll be there for that too.
“It can be a long process, but my job is to take care of these dogs and be their temporary family while they are waiting for their forever family.”
Beki’s work leads to glorious moments of gain: “It’s key to appreciate the small milestones – for example, the first time I walked through the door and Zena was waiting with a wagging tail, rather than a cautious bark, and the first time both girls ate all their food without encouragement.
“Once they were healthy enough, the first time they got to explore our doggy field was something – watching them lollop around, exploring all the new smells and seeing our resident sheep for the first time was great.”
There are many more marvellous memories that Beki has recorded too: “Their first proper walk to the park, their first car trip and seeing their little faces sticking out of the window when they returned really made me happy to see and makes everything worth it – to see them enjoying life the way they always should have been.
“The first tuft of fur that started growing back on Lola’s leg was another happy moment – she has now got lots of fur starting to sprout all over.”
Lola and Zena’s plight touched a nerve with supporters who have been following their recovery online, and their generosity has been amazing: “They were so spoiled and we can’t thank those who have donated enough. Big or small, any and all donations are so greatly appreciated by us and the animals. We really couldn’t continue what we do without the continued help of our supporters.”
And thanks to the many toys donated to the girls, they have also mastered the new concept of playtime. “At first they didn’t really know what to do with them, but they have now learned that toys are fun…”
Everyone has been rooting for these two gorgeous girls since they arrived at AIN and we’re thrilled to be able to share the news that they have just been adopted as a package.
“They are so clearly bonded that it wouldn’t have been in their interest to split them up,” Beki said, “They have such amazing temperaments, engulf anyone they meet with kisses and cuddles and are such wonderfully rounded dogs. They deserve the best of everything and now, finally, that is what they will receive. But until they go, I’ll be enjoying every last second that they are with us,” Beki added.
AIN is helping the girls to recover from their years of neglect. Zena’s painful – and completely preventable – eye condition is being treated at AIN (top). While, medicated baths are helping the girls’ skin to recover
The charity relies on donations to do its wonderful work, and with 100s of animals and birds to care for daily, the costs certainly mount up:
So far, Zena has had an entropion operation, a cherry eye repaired, a dental and been spayed which has amounted to £1400. And counting.