A New Beginning For Big Al

This month the Home's PR Lead, Derek Stewart-Brown made the life-changing step of adopting a pint-sized new companion, Big Al. In his latest blog, Derek walks us through the online process and the first days at home.

DID I get what I wanted when I rehomed a dog?

It’s been three-weeks since I brought Alan the Dachshund home and I can truly say my life is all the better for his arrival! Since the loss of my little terrier, ‘Hari,’ many, many months ago, I’ve been tempted so many times by watching the website, gazing at the dogs needing a home and reading the biographies which explained in brief, their individual needs and provided a little insight into their characters.

But, taking the best advice – I waited, gave myself time to grieve, before I took the bold step.

The rules for rehoming are the same for an employee as they are for anyone. We no longer invite walk-in adoption viewings or applications, essentially because it isn’t helpful for the welfare of our pets.

But selecting a pet from the website and filling in an application online is simple.

Every application to rehome is carefully considered to ensure we all do what’s best for the pet. Our rehoming team will call you and may ask a few more questions – and then we can invite you to meet up.

Big Al (as he’s now known} and me caught up for a walk and a playdate in the Home’s paddocks, a secure happy place that he knew and where he felt safe. It was the perfect first date. And better than a few I can remember!

We met up again the next day and a member of the Kennel staff, who had been looking after Big Al, told me a little about his history and warned me: ‘He can be a bit stubborn, doesn’t like long walks – especially if it’s raining, but loves to play with his toys.’

As my friends will tell you, it was obviously a match made in heaven!


With a few more formalities and forms completed – and armed with initial free insurance, his up-to-date medical and vaccination cards, we were a couple and Al and I set off for his forever home.

Despite the kind offer of leads, beds and toys from the Home, we only took his favourite ball home, along with enough of his usual food to last a few days. As I expected, he was a little nervous in a strange car, with a strange man for the 40-mile trip home. We had a toilet stop and a ten-minute game of catch mid-way.

We also stopped at the local pet store where Al picked his new toys and treats, while I carried the new bed, bedding and food home.

The garden duly inspected, the food and water bowls emptied, and Al got the grand tour of his new home. It seemed to fit the bill and he found his now favourite corner of the sofa.

It wasn’t entirely smooth sailing. He had free access to the garden, but just before bedtime had an accident on the kitchen floor! It was important to me that there were no recriminations. He was in a new and strange environment, and it was obvious from the look on his face that he was a little ashamed and needed a comforting cuddle – along with a walk around the garden.

It’s never happened since.

He met the cat from next door. After a bit of barking and cat fur raised, they’ve set their own boundaries and have what passes for a nodding acceptance – keeping to separate sides of the fence.

That new bed might be going to the Home as a donation. From the first night, Big Al made it clear that the bottom of my bed – and under the duvet when its cold -suited him better. I could have restricted him to the new bed in the kitchen, but for me it wasn’t an issue.

Three weeks later, how do I feel? Despite the tiny walks {when its not raining) the ball games and running up and down the garden has increased my step count, my physical health is improving.

Mentally, for someone who hates living alone, he’s become my companion. And yes, we talk all the time, have breakfast and dinner at the same time and play around the garden an awful lot!

I don’t know a lot about Al’s background. But what I do know is that that little tail of his hasn’t stopped wagging since he arrived. And my life couldn’t be better.

Derek and Alan

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