Its wonderful when stray dogs settle into a loving family home, and we’re so grateful to our incredible family of past adopters for choosing to adopt a dog with us. Thanks to you, we’ve happily rehomed stray dogs from all over the world to loving homes.
If you’re a WAHF adopter and you’d like to submit your own success story, we’d love to hear from you: submit your adoption story here.
Like so many of us, both Georgina and Johnathon grew up with family dogs and knew they always wanted one to join their family. They spent weeks looking for a rescue to bring a wagging tail to their homes, and when they first laid eyes on a floppy eared pup, they knew she was the one! Hazel came to us from sunny Greece after being abandoned at our shelter by an overflowing municipal pound. Though she had a tough start in life, she has always been a loving girl, choosing to spend most of her time belly-up, and after a good scratch!
Most new parents ask themselves many questions before a new arrival, and Georgina and Johnathon were no different – Would she be too nervous to eat or sleep? Would she be wary of her new family? Even down to – would she be scared of cars?! But they needn’t have worried! Despite her snoozy long journey, she still managed to do a few little zoomies before settling down on her new bed.
As with all rescues, there have been a few challenges that Georgina and Johnathon have given a helping hand towards. Hazel was understandably a little nervous of new people or being left alone, but que the peanut butter kongs and now she will happily curl up in bed with her favourite treat when someone pops in or out!
When they say that ‘home is where the heart is’ they are definitely talking about Hazel. Her new family have taken massive steps to teach Hazel that this is her forever home. She is a truly lucky pup who has been given everything a dog could ask for. We have to admit, Hazel has become a little confused at her new furnishings, preferring to sleep on top of her crate as opposed to inside it, but as long as she is happy, right?
We are so happy you found each other – thank you for sharing your success story with us.
During their travels, Helen and her husband Mike had seen just how bad the stray dog situation can be in some places. Feeling saddened by what they had seen, they made a vow to save a stray through adoption once they were home.
Call it coincidence or fate, just as confirmation on their first house had come through, they saw Jasmin’s face appear on our adopt page. They were both moved by Jasmin’s story; she had been kept in a warehouse in Lebanon and beaten daily, but luckily someone stepped in to save her. Sadly, her leg had to be removed but despite everything she had been through, Jasmin still just wanted to be comforted and loved by humans. After hearing her story of resilience and trust, Helen and Mike felt that she was the dog for them.
Once Jasmin had made the long journey from Beirut to Edinburgh it took her some time to settle into her new home. To begin with, she was afraid of doorways and would peer around the kitchen into the living room too afraid to come through. But with some time and lots of love, she was soon whizzing between rooms!
Another challenge for Jasmin was walking. When she first arrived, she was fear reactive towards other dogs. Helen and Mike spent a lot of time working with Jasmin and teaching her that she needn’t be afraid. All their hard work paid off and after 6-8 months she was like a different dog.
Since welcoming Jasmin into their lives there have been many memorable moments, including snuggling up to them on the sofa which was particularly special as she had gone so long without comfort.
As Helen shares so beautifully, “everybody always has an idea of the type of dog they want, and it’s so easy to have expectations in your head about how you want them to be. But you’ve really got to be open to all possibilities. They’ve been to hell and back, some of these dogs, and they’ll teach you resilience like no human life experience can.
“Jasmin loves us unconditionally and we love her with every fibre of our beings. Whatever dog you get, be patient and treat them with kindness”.
We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Thank you for sharing your inspiring story with us.
Being animal lovers and having a lifestyle that they felt would be ideal for a dog, Graeme and Amy felt that they were in the perfect position to adopt a rescue, which happened to be perfect for Bobche as he was looking for his forever home.
Bobche’s sweet face and kind eyes stood out to Graeme and Amy and after going through our adoption process, they were soon waiting for him to arrive. Naturally, our adopters can feel a mixture of excitement and nerves when they meet their new family member for the first time. But after a long journey from Bulgaria, Bobche was soon sharing his cheeky character with his new humans.
Graeme and Amy were pleasantly surprised at how quickly Bobche adjusted to his new home and were delighted when he decided to sit between them on the sofa on his first night.
The biggest challenge for Bobche has been walking. It took a couple of weeks for him to make it to the end of the road as he would be quite nervous and disinterested. With some time and support, Bobche has grown in confidence and even recently completed an eight-mile walk in the South Downs!
Seeing Bobche happy is extremely fulfilling for both Graeme and Amy, especially knowing he’d previously been abandoned in Bulgaria. They both agree that Bobche is the best thing that they have done as a couple. Not a day goes by without him bringing a smile to their faces or making them laugh. We are so happy to hear that Bobche has changed your lives and are so grateful that you have changed his life by welcoming into your home and hearts.
Found in a cramped crate in Lebanon following an amputation, no one seemed to know what had happened to Pete, but judging by his injuries, it seemed Pete had been through quite the ordeal.
As part of the ‘super six’, we brought Pete over to the UK in 2019 where he soon ‘wormed’ the way into the hearts of Sam and Steve.
As Pete’s adoption had fallen through, we were looking for a foster family who could take him in. Luckily, Sam and Steve had been thinking about getting a dog for some time and decided that fostering would be the perfect opportunity to welcome a dog into their lives.
To begin with, Pete was a little frightened of entering rooms and could be nervous around people. He would also struggle to climb the stairs and tire easily, but with the love and support from Sam and Steve he has adapted to his new life and built up lots of strength and stamina
After a couple of months, Sam and Steve couldn’t imagine their lives without Pete and were absolutely delighted to be offered the chance to adopt him. Perhaps it was meant to be all along!
Pete has brought an abundance of joy into the lives of Sam and Steve and is the perfect companion. It seems Pete has truly found his ‘happily forever after’ with a life filled of fun, love and comfort – not forgetting the holidays to Dartmoor and the Yorkshire Dales.
We could not be happier with Pete’s transformation – he is a great example of the difference a second chance can make to the life of a rescue dog.
Thank you for sharing your wonderful story with us.
Knowing how many dogs there are in need of a loving home, rescuing was the only option for Katie and her husband Dan.
When the couple decided the time was right, they fell in love with Daphne’s face straight away and after learning that she was looking for a home with lots of adventure, they knew that they had found their perfect companion to join them on their long hikes.
As Daphne had only ever lived in a shelter before, Katie and Dan were a bit apprehensive about her adjusting to home life – but there was no need to worry. Being the adventurist she is, Daphne lost no time in investigating her new surroundings and was snuggled up on the sofa in no time!
Whilst Daphne was confident in her new home, she took a bit longer to adjust to the outside world and could be reactive towards other dogs when out on walks. But with a combination of patience and tasty treats, Daphne has blossomed into a brave, confident girl who now wants to make friends with almost every dog she meets.
We often find that our adopters notice positive changes in their lives after rescuing a dog. Katie and Dan have found that they appreciate the things around them so much more since Daphne came into their lives. They now make sure to find the time to visit the beach every morning (even in the cold and rain!) and have been blessed to catch many sunrises together.
We’re so happy that with the help of Street Hearts Bulgaria we were able to bring Daphne into the lives of Katie and Dan. Thank you for sharing your story with us.
Being a big believer in second chances, and understanding just how important they are, Norma and her husband wanted to adopt a rescue dog.
When they came across Delilah, they felt she would be the perfect fit for their family, Delilah ideally was looking for a home with a confident dog who she could befriend and learn from, Norma felt her dog Freda would be the perfect companion.
Having experienced a tough start in life and coming all the way from Bahrain, Delilah was naturally anxious at first as she adjusted to her new surroundings. Wanting to help her settle, Norma and her husband have found the right balance of patience and knowing when to give her extra encouragement to expose her to new things.
It can take time to build trust and as Norma says, it’s frustrating when you wish they knew just how much you love them and that you would never hurt them. But building that trust and watching your dog learn to love you is the most rewarding experience.
Delilah has brought an abundance of joy into their lives, from her excited ‘morning dance’ she welcomes Norma with every day to watching the relationship she has built with Freda.
Thank you for sharing your success story with us and for giving Delilah her second chance.
Being very much ‘dog people’, Kitty and her husband had never planned on being a one-dog only family, so they decided it was the right time to expand their family and adopt a friend for their 7-year-old dog, Lola.
Kitty found herself on our adoption page and was immediately drawn to Berry – her heart even skipped a beat when she saw her profile and read her story. The same day, she filled out the application form – it was meant to be.
When Berry arrived at her new home, the first thing Kitty and her family did was to introduce Berry to Lola in a field close by so they could meet on neutral territory. Luckily, there was no need to worry – it was love at first sniff for Lola.
Having only experienced life in a shelter, Berry had some challenges to overcome – at first, she was afraid of doorways. But being the brave girl she is, Berry has overcome her fears and grown in confidence since arriving from Greece.
Like us all, Berry has some quirky behaviours, the latest being waking up at 4:30am and asking to be fed and play! But who can blame her, breakfast is the best meal of the day – who agrees? She’s also a chatty girl and according to Kitty, sounds just like Chewbacca!
Kitty and her family have loved watching Berry’s character emerge day by day – she has brought love and enjoyment to everyone in their family.
Being from India herself, Saabira knew there were thousands of street dogs in need of help, but she wanted to do more than donate, she wanted to adopt! And that’s exactly what she did back in October when she welcomed Suzy from Lesvos. It also helped that Saabira had met not one, but two WAHF adopters who were happy to recommend us!
Suzy was gorgeous, no doubt about it, but it was her bio that really won Saabira over: hearing that Suzy was a “polite” puppy who waited for the others to finish eating before she took her turn just melted Saabira’s heart. After months of pining over everyone else’s dogs at the park, Saabira finally had a companion of her own.
But when Suzy arrived, she tucked herself at the back of her crate as far out of reach as possible. Noises startled her and she trembled like a leaf at the mention of walkies; she even gave Saabira’s boyfriend, William, a telling off for daring to get into bed! She showed little interest in toys or food and hated being left alone, leaving Saabira excited to have her own dog, but equally nervous about soothing Suzy’s anxieties.
Thankfully Saabira was committed and patient: she hired a dog walker to break up the day; read training books and watched dozens of self-help videos; browsed dog rescue forums and sought advice on nervousness. Fast forward to today and that patience has truly paid off! Suzy is now a lover of splashing in puddles, playing with other dogs and passively submitting to being decorated with floral collars and funky coats! In the mornings, she impatiently paws Saabira for the leftover milk from her cereal and enjoys rummaging through William’s belongings in hopes of finding a sock to stealthily sneak away with!
Saabira wants everyone to know that while a huge amount of effort goes into dog ownership, and while Suzy may never be the life and soul of the party, all of this is part of the journey you share with each other; there is no substitute for patience, but more often than not, that patience rewards you with a playful, bouncy, affectionate companion like Suzy. A big thankyou to Saabira for never giving up on Suzy, and for sharing your journey with us.
Lara and Paul’s adoption journey very nearly looked completely different, after initially overlooking Freya. She was, after all, rather camera shy in those early days! But we believed all along that they’d make a perfect match, so after sending the couple some more photos, they were besotted and it wasn’t long before Freya was on her way to Lara and Paul, ready for her new life in Yorkshire.
Rescued from Bulgaria in December 2019, it took Freya a little while to adjust to her new surroundings. But with patience, and gentle encouragement when it was time to go outside or at mealtimes, Freya began to relax and even chose her favorite spot on the sofa! It was Lara and Paul’s unwavering patience and immediate devotion to Freya that ensured the next installment of Freya’s story had a happy ending…
After a couple of weeks in her new home, every dog lover’s worst nightmare ensued when Freya managed to escape! Lost in a new, unfamiliar country, Freya was understandably scared and bolted. Thankfully, Lara and Paul did everything right and, with a team of incredible volunteers, it wasn’t long before Freya found her way back to them. For a dog who had been in the UK only a few weeks, for her to find her own way back to Lara and Tom was nothing short of a Christmas miracle!
After her little escapade, things changed for the new family. Freya was now more comfortable than ever and sought out affection from the couple, who say they’ve been inseparable ever since! And with too many memorable moments to count, we’re delighted that everything worked out for the best. Freya now loves to hang out with her dog pals, bouncing and wagging her tail, bringing joy to everyone!
A huge thank you to Lara, Paul and Freya for sharing your adoption journey with us!
You may have read Ernie’s success story, now meet his brother, Ace! His new adopter, Patrick, had had little success trying to adopt from a UK shelter largely owing to living in busy London. But when Ace arrived from Greece in November 2019, having won everybody over with his fluffy ears, Patrick finally had the companionship he’d been looking for, and Ace was pretty happy too!
Like his brother, it took Ace a while to grow accustomed to his new life but it had been love at first sight for Patrick, so there was no going back! Being from Greece, Ace wasn’t familiar with crowds, vehicles or loud noises, so Patrick understood the need to be patient but firm, encouraging him with positive reinforcement but still taking things at his pace. Given time and love, Ace now loves being around people (and even the cat!) and mooching around the garden. But most of all, he loves trips to the park where he gets to meet other dogs!
As if by perfect timing, Ace came into Patrick’s life only a few months before lockdown. Having Ace around, and having the extra time to take him on longer-than-usual walks, has made lockdown all the more bearable for Patrick, who attests to the physical and mental wellbeing that comes from dog ownership.
Patrick and Ace’s most memorable moment together was taking a trip to see family in Ireland. Ace was a trooper for the whole journey, sitting by Patrick’s feet on the train and hopping into a crate on the ferry…a far cry from the pup who arrived in November, nervous of strange vehicles! And what a trip it was, watching Ace hold his own alongside sheepdogs, running over the Mayo hills.
There’s one more thing that Patrick would like you all to know; that getting a rescue dog will change your life! A huge thank you to Patrick for giving Ace the perfect home, and for sharing his and Ace’s adoption journey.
Many people who adopt a WAHF dog hear about our work from friends who have also adopted. They say that once you give a rescue dog a second chance at life, there’s no going back! We couldn’t agree more and thankfully, that’s how Warren and Kate felt when they first saw Ralph’s face smiling back at them!
The couple adopted Ralph from Bulgaria late last year and were understandably nervous before picking him up, hoping everything was just perfect for him. Turns out Ralph was equally nervous, and who could blame him given that he was abandoned as such a young age. But Warren and Kate did everything right, taking things slow and giving Ralph all the time he needed to figure out this fabulous new life of his.
Anyone who has rescued a dog knows what a journey it is, and for Warren and Kate it was no exception. Teaching Ralph what is and isn’t acceptable behaviour, and watching him learn and develop has been part of their journey together…even if Ralph does have a cheeky side! And with rescue dogs, each milestone is that little bit more special, like seeing Ralph respond to commands (he can even give you a high five!) and flopping down beside them for a cuddle.
And let’s not forget all the ways that adopting a dog can benefit us too. For Warren and Kate, they’ve become more organised with their time and have gained an extra stash of patience they never knew they had! For the couple, Ralph has brought an added level of mindfulness into their home…an impressive feat for an ex-street dog!
A huge thank you to Warren and Kate for letting us share your journey and for showing that the highs of adopting far outweigh the challenges along the way!
This Romanian chap bundled into Lydia and Mark’s lives after they stumbled across his profile, realising that he’d make an excellent companion for their current pup Kevin. He was also ridiculously adorable which helped the couple’s decision to give him a loving home!
Despite having waited a month to meet the little guy, it was love at first sight for Bear who leaped into Lydia’s arms. Soon enough, after a quick sniff around his new home, he settled in front of the TV with his new brother, feeling safe enough to doze off.
It soon became clear that Bear had never had a home before; he was clumsy around the house and inquisitive of everything…a little too inquisitive when it came to the skirting boards! He was also anxious around dogs who weren’t Kevin and grew overly protective of food, toys and his new mum. The couple knew this pup would need the patience and perseverance required for training, but they also knew he was totally worth it!
Things started looking up once they introduced Bear to a crate. Not only could Lydia and Mark stop worrying about Bear hurting himself (and the house!) but Bear has come to love having his own private space. The couple realised what a totally new environment this was for Bear, and took steps to soothe his anxieties…he’s now the loving, playful and caring dog that was inside him all along!
A particularly memorable moment was when the couple hired a local dog field so that Bear could properly stretch his legs. Within half an hour he was covered in mud! But how lovely to see Bear relax and play freely with his brother.
Looking back on where Bear started, Lydia and Mark are quite rightly proud of how far he’s come and cannot imagine their lives without him. A huge thank you to them both for sharing their journey with us, and for never giving up on Bear!
Oliver and Johanna always agreed that they wanted to adopt a medium sized, scruffy looking dog. They were introduced to the Foundation by a family friend who had also just recently adopted. One day whilst waiting to catch a ferry home from Normandy, the couple came across Dora, a scruffy Wire-haired Griffon mix, who had just been added to our website that day – their hearts suddenly leapt and they couldn’t help but register their interest and get the ball rolling to bring her home!
When they collected Dora they were asked where she would sleep by our transporters, they quickly explained that Dora was so loving that she’d no doubt end up on the bed with them… and of course she has! She slept through the night from day one and is still the last one to wake up in the morning! Over the course of the first few days, Dora discovered her new garden and couldn’t wait to explore, she was regularly running around like a maniac, playing with her toys and revelling in all the cuddles from her family!
It took her a little while to conquer walking on the lead but now Dora can’t wait to go for walkies! She is incredibly social and loves playing with people and other dogs, going to the park is now one of the best moments of her day. Dora is extremely clever and she picks up tricks & commands easily, albeit sometimes showing her stubborn streak! Recall has been their biggest challenge because she’s an independent little lady who becomes distracted but Dora is getting there!
Oliver and Johanna say she has a face that melts your heart – which essentially means they are completely under her control and she gets her way no matter what – but they wouldn’t have it any other way! Dora just celebrated her first birthday and to know that life could have been a whole lot different for Dora who battled parvovirus whilst in Greece, they couldn’t imagine any other life for her now and they are so glad she is part of theirs.
David and Georgia had always wanted to rescue a dog, but knew it had to be when they were able to give a dog the best possible life. As they had a cat, they had found it particularly hard to rescue within the UK as they couldn’t find a dog that was suitable for a cat household. Then someone mentioned us, and that’s where their adoption story began!
They saw Tuesday doing an adorable little head tilt, and they immediately fell in love with her! Tuesday was a young puppy when rescued and interacted with the shelter cats perfectly, so David and Georgia, with the reassurance from our team, felt prepared that successful introductions with their cat, Ziggy, would work. Once Tuesday arrived home it did take a few weeks for Ziggy to get used to his new housemate, especially as Tuesday simply wanted to be near him and play with him. Eventually Tuesday learned that Ziggy wasn’t that interested in playing but they have learned to join forces and beg for dinner together each day! They’re not at bed sharing stage (yet) but the couple are ever hopeful that this might happen as their relationship continues to flourish.
Tuesday absolutely loves other dogs, she thinks however big or small, they are her best friend and just wants to play with them all – her impressive socialisation skills are something to behold! Tuesday continually makes them laugh, her personality bounces from playful, to cuddly and both are equally appreciated. Since the beginning, they have given Tuesday carrots as treats and she truly believes she’s been given the reward of a lifetime when she gets a carrot!
The couples walks have never felt so special, knowing that they have given Tuesday a safe home and the life she deserves, it just brings them both so much joy. They say “For anyone considering looking to adopt a dog, it is the best feeling in the world” and they would always adopt in future – thank you!
Dahli and her siblings were rescued by our partner shelter in Bulgaria and were all adopted in the UK late last year. Originally no one had shown interest in Dahli and her adopters Fleur & Tom couldn’t understand why (we couldn’t either!) Buying a puppy was never an option as they were far too aware of the street dog population, so when they saw Dahli they thought she was gorgeous and perfect for them!
Dahli has always been extremely gentle natured and a real clever clogs, which you can all marvel at over on Instagram @thecotswoldspooch, but it took her some time to find her stride and develop her confidence. With the help of puppy training classes and Fleur’s family dogs, Dahli slowly began coming out of her shell with other dogs! She was also very nervous around roads but with lots of positive reinforcement training she now happily trots along the busiest roads. What a smart girl!
The first time Dahli was allowed off lead she virtually stuck to their side but had the best time of her life. Fast forward a few months and they took Dahli to Cornwall with them where she got to run around on St Ives beach. Here she didn’t stop running, digging, sniffing and sticking her head in the sand. She thoroughly enjoyed herself and the couple were overjoyed to see her having so much fun.
Fleur and Tom are immensely proud of themselves and Dahli, for all they have overcome, in such a short time, together… and so they should be! It wasn’t easy but dog ownership never is – whether rescue or not – you get out what you put in and clearly their dedication has paid off. They can now take Dahli into any situation and she’ll be the most well behaved and confident dog and that’s all testament to their understanding and patient nature!
Thank you to Fleur and Tom for giving Dahli her best life!
When Jo and Chris were ready to welcome a new addition into their home, they already knew that adoption was the way to go! While they were prepared for any challenges that might come their way, the couple knew that watching a rescue grow in confidence with each passing day would be so very worth it all.
Maurice caught their eye because of how happy he looked in his photo – and who doesn’t love a happy chap! A medium-sized dog described as playful, friendly and cheeky, Jo and Chris were sure that Maurice was right for them. And if that wasn’t enough to persuade them, a video of Maurice and his siblings playing was about to: ‘They were all jumping around and we couldn’t see him. The video then zoomed in on Maurice and the lady said ‘Oh there’s Maurice, eating the paper!’ It made Jo and Chris laugh so much they knew they’d made the right decision…he still loves eating paper now!
The couple were shocked at how quickly Maurice settled in. Over time he has perfected toilet training and is learning that not everything is his to chew! He’s also growing in confidence each day, becoming more and more comfortable with the loud noises and traffic that he encounters whilst out on walkies. Watching him grow in confidence has been one of the highlights for Jo and Chris – it really is a one-of-a-kind feeling that only comes with adopting!
Maurice has certainly made himself at home…he loves to be as close as possible to his humans, completely disregarding their personal space in favour of a cuddle on the sofa. Like all dogs, Maurice brings Jo and Chris constant joy and is always making them laugh – just the other day, whilst on walkies along their local canal, Maurice got a tad too big for his boots and ended up headfirst in the water! And keeping the couple entertained isn’t Maurice’s only talent, he’s also encouraged them to embrace the great Welsh outdoors even more, challenging them to find new and exciting walkies routes – follow his adventures over on his very own Instagram @maurice_the_greek!
Sometimes you just know that you’re ready for a dog and, when you are, adopting is the only way to go! That’s how Zoe and George felt before they adopted the gorgeous Buckley earlier this year. Zoe had spent years trawling the internet when someone suggested Wild at Heart Foundation…and if by fate, it was Nikki Tibbles Wild at Heart who had created Zoe’s wedding bouquet! So when they saw Buckley’s gorgeous eyes looking back at them, they didn’t think twice.
Buckley’s story is a little different to other WAHF dogs, in that he was fostered here in the UK before meeting his forever family. This meant that Zoe and George were able to visit first and, well, it was love at first sight! Like all dogs, Buckley needed time to settle in but it was clear that he trusted his new parents, and began to relax a little more each day. After a week, it was as if he’d know them forever and finally their family felt complete.
Having only been adopted earlier this year, every moment with Buckley is still so special for Zoe and George. But one moment in particular was letting him off the lead for the first time – a special moment that so many dog owners will relate to! To see Buckley responding to their recall and come bounding straight back to them, is such a testament to how resilient rescue dogs can be – and at 4 years of age, it also shows that an old(ish) dog can indeed learn new tricks!
One thing that we hear again and again from adopters, is how much their lives have changed since welcoming a rescue pup into their home (for the better, of course!) and Buckley is no exception. Zoe is self-employed, which meant hours could easily pass without getting that all-important fresh air – we’re all guilty of it! – but all that’s changed now that Buckley is there to drag them both out for walkies! Welcoming a dog into your home can offer a whole new lease of life, just as it has for Zoe and George.
A huge thank you to Zoe and George for giving Buckley the best home and for letting us share your story – you can follow Buckley’s Essex adventures over at @buckleypuppyboy…we’re positive he’ll leave a lasting impression on you like he does on everyone else!
For Freya and Sammy, the joy of welcoming a WAHF rescue dog into their home was such a wonderful experience that they did it not once, but twice! After adopting Rafferty in 2017, they decided last year that he would benefit from having a four-legged pal around the house and they weren’t wrong! Rosie soon joined them from Lesvos, completing their family.
In both cases it was love at first sight; Freya and Sammy found Raff’s scruffiness particularly irresistible! Like many rescue dogs, the journey from shelter to home can take some getting used to. Raff and Rosie’s adjustment period was eased along by plenty of chicken and Freya and Sammy’s understanding that they would need time and a safe place to call their own. But within a few days, they’d soon realised how much fun having a sibling can be.
It was important to Freya and Sammy that any dogs of theirs would get on well with their nieces and nephews, and it seems they struck gold with Rosie and Raff who get on famously with children. We love to hear stories like these as they truly dispel any myths that rescue dogs are unsuitable for homes with children…in fact, it can be quite the opposite as this foursome has discovered!
Although there were some challenges to overcome along the way, particularly with toilet training (looking at you, Rosie!) with time and repetitiveness, both pups have taken their new routines well and truly in their stride. And there’s been some comical moments along the way too, like the time Raff was found 3 doors up, in the neighbours house, happily chilling with their son…who is also called Rafferty!
For Freya and Sammy, their pups have become the ultimate stress relievers – something all dog-parents can attest to! – and have encouraged them to get out and about more than ever before, discovering new places and enjoying the great outdoors! You can follow their outdoorsy adventures in the beautiful South West over on their Instagram, @rosieandraff! A big thank you to Freya and Sammy for sharing their WAHF journey with us all.
Valentines Day was extra special for us this year because it was also the day that Cassie arrived in the UK, all the way from Bahrain, to join their family. It was love at first sight for the couple, who just knew that Cassie was the one for them…and so, how fitting that her arrival date was 14th February!
Cassie’s transition into family life was one of the smoothest we’ve seen, not least because Sandra dedicated a whole lot of time to this beautiful Bahraini rescue (even keeping her company overnight!) And it wasn’t only Sandra and Peter who were welcoming Cassie with open arms…Cassie also had 3 four-legged siblings to meet! Ex-bait dog Ellie, in particular, has taken Cassie under her wing, showing her the ropes of the household.
Not knowing the background of a rescue dog is often part of the parcel when rescuing (and part of the adventure!) which is why nobody quite knew why Cassie seemed more anxious around men. It took her 3 weeks in her new home before she approached Peter, nudging him for a cuddle…and what a special moment that was! Cassie had finally realised that this was her new home, and there was nothing to fear anymore…something she celebrated with several zoomies laps of the garden!
Sandra and Peter were expecting house training to be an area that needed work, but Cassie actually surpassed all their expectations (something to do with Ellie’s mentoring we think!) It was actually recall that took the most work but, showing how resilient rescue dogs can be, Cassie soon got the hang of this too and it wasn’t long before she was enjoying off-lead walkies with her new doggy pals…it’s amazing what a persuasive tool cheddar can be!
Having three dogs already, not much has changed for Sandra and Dave, except that there’s now 4 lot’s of cuddles and licky kisses to be shared! Cassie has filled the hole in their family that was left by their beloved boy Haggis, who was with them for 17 years. We think Cassie’s done a wonderful job of honouring his place in their family. Thank you Sandra, Peter and family for letting us share your story!
It really felt like getting Ernie was meant to be. I was so sure that he was the one that I messaged Tom straight away saying “this is our pup!” We adopted Ernie from Greece in November 2019 and he fit right in from day one. He even did his very best to win over our cats!
Ernie wasn’t familiar with public, which was understandable really, or having to meet so many new people so this was a real challenge at the beginning. The Wild at Heart Foundation team explained that rescue dogs need time and patience to grow accustomed to their new lives, so we were well prepared for this. He now hops on and off public transport quite happily and is a firm favourite with all our friends now that he’s had time to get to know them.
Adopting Ernie has changed our lives in so many ways but the best has been helping our close friend overcome her fear of dogs. For a little pup from Greece, we think that’s a pretty impressive legacy! Another stand out moment was introducing Ernie to Tom’s family dog, Tyler. Tyler is a rescue Boxer who had a terrible start in life, leaving her fearful and defensive around other dogs. But with some careful introductions, Ernie won Tyler over and the two now play quite happily!
When we adopted Ernie, it’s fair to say that life wasn’t going quite to plan for us but we now look back on those days with fondness because Ernie brought so much love and joy to a time that felt really challenging.
– Natalie and Tom
It was always our plan to add a dog to our little family as we’d both grown up with dogs, but the timing never seemed right. We wanted to make sure we had enough time and structure in our lives so that we could give the dog the best possible home. When we bought our house last year and my job became more flexible, we decided it was time to start looking!
I followed Karen Hauer on Instagram (who is an ambassador of the Foundation) and came across WAHF when she posted a photo of her dogs. We’d always wanted a medium sizes, relatively young dog that could accompany us on long walks and fit in to our active lifestyle. Apart from that we were pretty flexible, and when Jasper came up for adoption, we both fell in love with him immediately. That same evening we filled out the adoption form.
From filling out the form to bringing Jasper home, only took about 3 weeks, which was fantastic! We were quite nervous so having the WAHF team keep us updated really helped – they answered all our questions immediately and took the time to undertake a thorough home check. Picking Jasper up for Cobham Service Station was the most exciting day! When the doors of the van were opened, Jasper was the last to leave and was waiting so patiently to meet us too.
When we brought Jasper home, we showed him the garden and his bed, then left him to explore. He didn’t seem to know houses, wasn’t used to stairs and was completely mesmerised when we first turned the TV on! The first few nights he slept in the utility room but as soon as we started leaving the door open, he found his preferred spot on the sofa!
We’re always saying how lucky we were with Jasper – we never had any accidents in the house, he doesn’t mind being left alone for a few hours and hardly ever barks (he makes an exception for the postman!) The only thing we noticed was a nervousness around men, especially if they’re quite tall or wearing a hat or big clumpy boots. We’ve been working on this and he’s already getting much better.
Me and Joe have always loved going for walks, but they’re so much better now we have Jasper with us! One of our most memorable moments with Jasper so far is the long weekend we spent in the Yorkshire Dales. We stayed at the most dog-friendly B&B ever (“yes of course the dog can sleep on the bed with you”!) and had a wonderful time going on long walks and spending time together.
Our life has changed a lot but in the best way. Jasper has been the perfect addition to our home and family. We really couldn’t imagine life without him anymore. We’re so grateful to WAHF for bringing Jasper into our life and for all the hard work you do to help dogs like Jasper all over the world – keep it going!
– Laura Pohl
We knew that we could give a loving home to a dog that had had a rough start in life, and wanted to make sure they never felt alone or unloved again. Looking through the photos and reading about the dogs, Penny stood out because she wanted to be rehomed with another dog and we already had our Lola. Penny was a similar size to Lola and loved kids, which worked for us because we have young Nieces who spend a lot of time at ours. Penny was also described as loving and enjoyed cuddles, which is exactly like Lola – so we knew instantly that she would fit straight into our family!
The adoption process was a mixture of excitement and nerves! We couldn’t wait for Penny to join our family and when we finally met her, our hearts just melted. Seeing the nervous, frightened dog in front of us only made us more determined to give her the life she deserved.
Penny settle in well but was a bit of a loner to begin with – she would hide upstairs when new people visited and seemed frightened of walks. Our first challenge was that she would cry every morning around 3am, so would have to get out of bed to cuddle her. But I think once she realised that she was here to stay and wasn’t going to be alone anymore, she started to settle in.
Seeing Penny’s tail wag for the first time was an amazing moment and also when she first started getting excited for walks, instead of being frightened of the lead. Another memorable moment was when we took her to the beach for the first time – she was so excited to be there, it was such an amazing feeling.
Our lives haven’t changed hugely, as we already had Lola. Although we know that having a dog is a huge commitment, we also know that giving our girls a home is one of the best things we’ve ever done! Especially seeing the change in Penny from when we first brought her home to now – it’s just the most rewarding feeling. She loves to cuddle on the sofa, play in the garden, meet new dogs whilst out walking and cuddles up to Lola while sleeping.
Knowing that we have contributed to giving our girl the confidence and love she needed to be a happy, contented dog is the best feeling.
– Hayley Jarvis
I’ve always wanted a dog, so when my friend told me about Wild at Heart Foundation, I immediately fell in love with George and his photo – in the photo, he was asleep on top of a car because apparently all the other dogs picked on him! He’d been abandoned in the mountains and was skin and bone.
I had already recently got a dog, but knew immediately that I wanted another! And a few months later, poor wee George was still on the website waiting for someone to adopt him. I couldn’t bear it any longer so decided to bring him home. The whole WAHF team were a joy to deal with and the whole adoption process went really smoothly. I was pretty nervous as George was my first rescue, and obviously I have never met him!
George arrived at about 2 in the morning! The lovely pet couriers, who were so good with the dogs, dropped him straight to my house. The first few days were tricky, as George was in a worse condition than I had imagined. He wanted to be outside all the time and my current dog, Hank – still a big gangly puppy! – just wanted to play, but I don’t think George knew how. It was definitely really trying for a while.
But with time and patience, George settled in and has turned into the best wee dog! Now I cannot imagine life without him – he and Hank are the best of friends these days, which is so sweet. George has turned into a real joker and loves to wind Hank up, by stealing his toys and running away when Hank’s not looking! He just loves life these days and looks like he’s smiling all the time! He loves to run and snuggle, and has just started coming to dog classes where the trainer says he’s doing really well. He’s also brilliant with children and loves being made a fuss of, doesn’t even mind being dragged around by the little ones!
There’s been a few hiccups, don’t get me wrong, but it’s so rewarding to know that I’ve rescued him. He continues to come out of his shell more and more each day. He makes me laugh every day and I’m so happy I decided to bring him home!
Hector came to us in October 2019. We had been looking for a dog to rehome since our Terrier died in April and, having always had at least one dog in our lives since 1974, we were really missing the company of a dog. We looked at several rehoming sites and when we found Wild at Heart Foundation, and saw the photograph of Hector, we knew he was the one for us!
The Foundation couldn’t have been more helpful with information about Hector. After having vetted us for suitability, they sent two videos of him so that we could see him in his current home of the rescue shelter. He was transported over to the UK by specialists and we were kept posted on their progress, right up until he arrived at our rendezvous, where we collected him and bought him home. After a walk round the garden and some supper, he chose which bed he was having and slept through the night.
It took about 48 hours for him to get used to the house. With a few leg lifts, he quickly got used to toileting outside and now he is very much at home. He is careful around my husband, who has to walk with a quad stick since having a stroke – this is why we wanted an older dog (Hector is 4). I mostly walk him on a lead but am gradually giving him a run and letting him play with other dogs. He loves everybody he meets and is very friendly, although he does want to sort out the Squirrel population! He has also learnt that there is a good chance of a digestive biscuit when the coffee machine goes on! We are so enjoying having him around.
– Anne Jackson
We adopted Ginger (formerly April) back in June 2019. The adoption very nearly didn’t take place though, with lots of people calling us irresponsible for getting a dog when we both had jobs. We had a major wobble after this, wondering if we were doing the right thing.
By then of course, it was too late – we’d already seen her photo and had fallen in love. We were both adamant that we didn’t want her to be left at home alone while we were working and we also wanted her to be socialised with other dogs. Luckily, as most things in life, everything worked out. We found a wonderful day-care lady who Ginger absolutely adores and she gets to play with other dogs and puppies while we’re at work. The lady even picks her up and drops her off – we’ve been so lucky to find her! I can safely say that our house hasn’t been trashed and we haven’t lost any sleep – she slept through the night from the first day we got her.
The joy she’s brought to our life is immeasurable. She loves running and is so fast – we are lucky to have so many open spaces and woodland near where we live. She has been off-lead from almost as soon as we got her and she has excellent recall. She’s amazing at playing fetch and picks things up so quickly, we think we might have a genius dog on our hands (biased? Us? Of course!) My husband was less keen on getting a dog initially but not he’s absolutely besotted with her – she’s definitely a daddy’s girl! She is just a wonderful, gentle-natured soul and the house now feels strange and empty when she’s not there.
I’m so relieved we didn’t listen to the naysayers. It’s been the best thing we have EVER done! I’m not sure if we’ve just been incredibly lucky with Ginger or whether it’s the fact we gave her rules from the off along with a lot of exercise (a tired dog is a happy dog!) that’s made her such a well balanced dog – maybe a mixture of both.
Thank you so much WAHF for bringing this joyful energy into our life!
– Faye Flanders
‘My husband and I had talked about getting a dog for years but had to wait until we owned our own home before taking the plunge. We found Wild at Heart Foundation by searching for reputable charities online. We both fell in love with Bulgaria Street Hearts (one of the shelters that WAHF work with!) and followed them on social media. After a few months, we saw a dog that stole both our hearts and we hurriedly made enquiries about her with WAHF.
We were reassured by the thoroughness and behavioural questions on the adoption form, that WAHF would try their best to find the right dog for us and our lifestyle. Missy (later named Mako!) arrived at her shelter in a very bad way, underweight and with skin infections. We were again reassured by the professional and experienced approach taken, which involved giving Mako time to heal, before providing us with updates on her character and whether she would suit us.
However, once her character began shining through and everyone decided this would be a positive match, things moved quickly! We both felt very well informed and supporting during this time. It was really lovely to be kept up to date with Mako’s preparations for travel, which certainly went above and beyond the shelter’s usual work.
Mako was driven over to the UK from Bulgaria, over three days by the owners of BSH themselves, with several other dogs in their specially adapted van. We were given a tracker to watch as the van progressed and were sent lot’s of updates. It was so amazing to meet her after all the updates and hard work to get her over to us.
The first week was intense for us all; for example, she was clearly nervous of men so Matt worked hard to gain her trust. We were both absolutely knackered by the end of that first week and wondered a few times what exactly we had gotten ourselves into! We want to write this to reassure all new adopters – it’s not easy, and that’s ok! Stick with your rules, make sure your dog feels comfortable and safe, and it will get easier!
We’ve had Mako for nearly six months and are so happy with our decision. We genuinely could not imagine a more perfect dog for us. It’s so rewarding to know she has the chance of a much happier life with us, thanks to the hard work of Street Hearts Bulgaria and Wild at Heart Foundation. After being a street dog for some time, she is a keen hunter and scavenger, which we continue to work on. She is very clever and food-motivated, both of which helps her training. She takes everything in her stride now and has transformed from a nervous, timid dog to a very confident and relaxed pet.
We are so happy we made this choice, and although it hasn’t been easy, we feel part of a wider community and movement to give these street dogs a new life.
Thank you, Bulgaria Street Hearts and WAHF!
– Lauren and Matthew
‘I’d always wanted a dog and rehoming is just hands down the most ethical way of getting one. Plus my friend had adopted through the Foundation, which is how I found about the charity. The adoption process was simultaneously nerve-wracking and absolutely wonderful. I was terrified that Forest wouldn’t like me but he came straight over, smelled my hand and just flopped onto his back for a belly rub. He was so beautiful and so affectionate that I completely forgot to give him the treat (bribe!) I’d brought for him!
Forest has been an absolute dream since arriving. He seemed to immediately like- and feel safe- in the flat, the various pubs I frequent and even the hectic office. He also loves the park and is absolutely perfect on and off the lead. He was pretty scared of traffic and of other people, to begin with, but he’s getting more and more confident each day. He’s no longer backing away and tripping me over.
One of our most memorable moments so far was letting him off the lead for the first time, it was terrifying for me. He immediately ran in a huge circle, tail going nuts, and then bolted off to go and play with another dog. I had visions of me having to chase him around the park but I called his name and he came bounding over, a massive grin across his face. He’s off the lead in every park now, never had any problems.
Having a dog is just the best thing for your mental health. I can’t imagine life without him. He provides company, affection and forces me to get out of the flat. I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone at the Foundation – I realise you do this to improve the lives of the dogs, but you’ve improved my life more than you can know. Thank you!
– Craig Jenner
‘We adopted Zoumbi at the start of 2019 but prior to this, we definitely had some preconceptions about adopting a rescue dog and we were nervous about what it would entail. We had talked about getting a dog for ages and although we had never considered adoption, we will be forever glad that we made the right choice in the end! The process was frankly amazing- we felt supported every step of the way and the passion that WAHF have for dogs is so infectious. The day we got Zoumbi was so magical, I will remember it forever.
Welcoming Zoumbi into our home was definitely nerve wracking. It was clear that everything was so different and new to her. She quickly found her feet and her cheekiness started to shine through like finding her favourite spot on the sofa (oops!) Having a rescue dog, you notice little milestones and subtle fears that they overcome, so each day is a celebration.
We noticed that Zoumbi’s sister Dahlia (soon to be renamed Zulu!) was still on the WAHF website and hadn’t been adopted yet, which we thought was such a shame because Zoumbi was such a gorgeous, sweet-natured thing. A few months went by and Dahlia still hadn’t been adopted so we decided to give her a forever home too…and went through the WAHF adoption process all over again!
Having two rescue dogs definitely has its challenges but seeing them grow in confidence every day is so rewarding and we’re so excited to see how things progress from here. We feel spoiled that we got to adopt a second time because adopting through WAHF is such a unique experience. Every member of their team is so supportive and genuinely care about how things are going once your new furbaby is home. We will continue to spread the word about WAHF and the amazing work that they do.
We started 2019 thinking we were going to get a Cockapoo from a breeder in the UK, and we’ve ended the year with not one, but two gorgeous beagle-mix mongrels from the little island of Lesvos!
‘We adopted Barney from Bosnia in January 2018, so he’s been with us two years now. After an unsuccessful attempt to adopt within the UK, we turned to Wild at Heart Foundation to help us find a dog that was OK around children, and so the hunt began!
The adoption process was really easy as we knew what we wanted and the personality was far more important to us than age or breed. We narrowed it down to Barney and were sent some beautiful videos of him playing in the snow! When we asked how Barney behaved around children, the folks in Bosnia filmed a boy of similar age to our children playing with Barney, which just confirmed he was the perfect dog.
Barney’s first few weeks were what you might expect from taking a stranger into your home! The advantage of Barney being a little older was that he quickly figured out where the toilet was and was happy to settle in his bed in the kitchen at night. Barney didn’t take to car journeys straight away and would get very nervous, often making himself sick. But we kept at it, not making a big fuss, and within a few months he’d realised that the car always meant going somewhere nice! Barney was also less keen on other dogs, especially ones that barked at him. So we spent a lot of time building his confidence, giving him treats whenever he passed another dog etc.
The description of Barney on the website couldn’t have been more accurate. He is very chilled, super friendly with people and isn’t just confident with other dogs, he actively loves them! He loves walks and food, so has been easy to train, and has even achieved his Bronze Kennel Club Award. He charms everyone wherever he goes and is a good conversation starter, as people are often curious as to his breed.
We just couldn’t love him more!’
Zoe and Euan fell in love with Orion after hearing how he’d spent 5 years at his shelter, repeatedly overlooked in favour of more spritely young pups. They knew he was the one and, well, the rest is history…until April 2020, when the couple fell in love again, this time for gorgeous Greek girl Bella!
Bella was 1 of 25 dogs aboard our very special flight from Greece and has since been taking everything in her stride…including meeting her old brother Orion! In just 2 short months, Bella has already enjoyed her first ever stuffed Kong, won her very own corsage and visited her great-grandpawrents, who thought she was as beautiful as we do! And although Zoe and Euan have had to adjust to double walkies (and not tangling up the leads!) it’s been so wonderful to see the pair snoozing in the Scottish sunshine together.
Not only are Orion and Bella’s parents two-time WAHF adopters, but they’re also last year’s winners of #WhoCaresWins2019! The couple walked a truly incredible 1,000,000 steps between them, raising over £600 for dogs in need…like Orion and Bella, before they landed on their paws with Zoe and Euan! In fact, the funds they raised helped shelters like the ones Orion and Bella came from, meaning that more dogs can know the home comforts and care that this pair have grown to love.
Zoe and Euan’s #WhoCaresWins success coincided with Orion’s arrival so, thanks to his new mum and dad, this lucky pup had a whole box of goodies waiting for him after his long journey from Greece…what a welcome home! So if you’re a soon-to-be adopter, why not hedge your bets this year and take part in our month of competitive fundraising? It might just be the icing on the cake!
We’re over the moon to see Bella settling in and can’t thank Zoe and Euan enough for all their hard work, not just as #WhoCaresWins winners but also as WAHF adopters who have truly changed the lives of this lucky duo!
‘After discovering the Wild at Heart Foundation on Instagram, we saw Basil’s photo on their website and just fell in love. Despite never having had dogs, I just knew that adopting was the right thing to do. I was nervous though, thinking that getting a dog would be a huge undertaking. Don’t get me wrong, it is, but in the best way imaginable!
Basil’s first few days at home were much smoother than I anticipated, he wasn’t anxious at all and was so gentle with our daughter Grace, right from the start. There’s been a few challenges along the way but all normal, adolescent dog stuff like digging and chewing…a lot of Grace’s fluffy toys no longer have ears or eyes! We’ve also had to get used to bathing Basil every day in the rainy months because he loves the mud. This actually made for one of our most memorable moments so far…the time he met a celebrity on Hampstead Heath and got his muddy paws all over her white jumpsuit! Another memorable moment is the first time he slept in our bed and didn’t stop groaning from happiness.
Our lives are much more energetic since adopting Basil from Lesvos. As well as the love and laughter, I’m grateful that Basil forces us to get out of the house and into nature every day. Even on the days when you don’t know how you’ll find the time, everything just slows and resets when walking a dog…it reminds you of what life is really about. I’ve never been so in touch with the weather and the seasons as I am now!
For anyone currently going through the adolescent stage, I’d say to hang in there! We’ve already started noticing a calm come over Basil so although he’s still bonkers, he at least comes back to me when I recall!
‘When I finally had space in my life for a little canine friend, I went to Wild at Heart Foundation after a friend recommended them. I’d always been a dog person and when I found myself living with fellow dog lovers, working in a dog-friendly office and in close proximity to several London parks, it felt like the stars had aligned. I’d also recently been diagnosed with a heart condition which, although manageable, meant I had to tone down the late nights of socialising.
When I got in touch with WAHF, I told them I needed a dog who would adapt quickly to London and all the sights, smells and sounds that come with city life. When I was matched to Nero and found out he’d be arriving from Lesvos in just a few weeks, it felt like a match made in heaven! The adoption process was rigorous but friendly and professional. As the process takes place online or over the phone, there were definitely times when I wondered who I was speaking to and whether a dog would materialise at all! But my friend’s recommendation was so positive and, sure enough, when I arrived at the service station, there was Nero waiting for me. I was in love immediately.
Nero (now named Frodo) had a difficult first few days. He struggled to process everything and would barely respond to people at all. I even had his hearing tested because I worried he might be deaf- turns out he wasn’t, he was just very unsure of this new life. When Frodo found a safe space under my bed, I cleared it out and added blankets and toys, to make it feel a bit more homely. Progress was slow, but he eventually learned to trust us and got used to his new pack of humans.
Frodo’s biggest challenge was the stairs, which I hadn’t expected! I don’t think he’d ever seen a staircase before so it took a lot of treats and praise for him to master it, which took about 6 weeks. With a mixture of terror, curiosity and bravery, Frodo quickly got used to public transport too, so now he comes to the office with me. In fact, Frodo has settled into city life so well that when we took him to the countryside recently, he was more scared of donkeys and sheep than of trucks and trains!
There’s been a few memorable moments so far but the stairs is definitely one of them. He was so proud of himself that my heart just burst. We both put a lot of time and effort into conquering the stairs so it was rewarding for us both. Another memorable moment was his first trip to the pub. He’s a sociable boy who loves other people and dogs, but on his first visit he managed to bite through his lead and was well on his way to the kitchen before anyone noticed.
Since adopting Frodo my life is unrecognisable. Not only have I gained a best friend but there’s more stability and routine to my days now. I get more exercise, don’t hate the winter as much and it’s all thanks to Frodo. The Wild at Heart Foundation handled the whole thing really well, including excellent aftercare. I would heartily recommend them!’
– Rick Morgan
I can’t remember the first time I thought about getting a dog, as I have wanted a four-legged friend to call my own for as long as I can remember. My partner Will and I discussed all the different breeds we would consider and after stumbling upon Wild at Hearts Instagram page I knew that rescuing a dog was the right way forward for me. Will got the sense it was right for us too after receiving constant emails and texts from me with dogs available for adoption.
We found a picture of Percy online, this gorgeous black and beige puppy and we both had the instantaneous feeling that he was the one. I emailed an adoption form and hoped for the best, keeping all our fingers crossed. When we received a reply saying that Percy was reserved for us, we were both so excited and overjoyed that this gorgeous little boy might soon be our gorgeous little boy.
When it came to the home check, we were both terrified. We wanted this puppy in our lives so much and just hoped that the people interviewing us wanted him in our lives too. We were given the good news that the team believed Percy would be going to a great home 24 hours later. The relief was immense. We were one step closer to having our own little pup!
Everyone at Wild at Heart has been so brilliant, I can’t sing their praises enough. Once the home check was completed everything moved very quickly and within weeks Percy was on a freedom flight all the way from Cyprus and heading to start his new life in the UK with us. We had been given our collection time and location for meeting the dog transport man in a van – midnight at a service station off the M25. We were slightly apprehensive about the whole operation but trusted it would all work out in the end.
We arrived at the service station at quarter to midnight to meet our new addition to the family and it was one of the most surreal moments – for Percy and for us. I think he was mainly shocked about the snow falling from the sky, as coming from Cyprus he was used to much warmer climates! The moment we saw him our hearts skipped and we felt totally overwhelmed with emotion. He was finally here to start his new happy life with his humans that already loved him so much. The journey home was the slowest I’ve ever seen Will drive. Partly because of the snow, but mainly because of the very precious cargo we now had onboard.
Percy is now called George and it is like he has been with us forever. He settled in so well and was quick to make our house into his home (and our sofa into his bed!). He is full of character and full of life, he makes us laugh constantly and pulls the greatest facial expressions. He is such a happy boy and loves to learn, he is currently doing his Good Citizenship training and loves all the treats and meeting all the other dogs. We adore every little thing about him, especially his baked bean eyebrows.
When talking about dogs Ricky Gervais has said “A dog loves you more than it loves itself” and this statement really rings true. George gives us unconditional love every single day. He is always there to wiggle his overexcited bottom when you get home from a tough day at work and he snuggles up to you when you are really in need of a cuddle. He always wants to play with you and bring happiness to your day.
Dogs are amazing, and Wild at Heart is amazing for everything they do for dogs like George. Thank you Wild at Heart from the bottom of our hearts for helping us to fill the missing piece of the puzzle in our lives.
We adopted Evie from Cyprus in October 2018. She arrived in the UK in September and had a wonderful foster family to stay with until we collected her.
We had been aware of Wild at Heart for a while, I would regularly head there on my lunch break and send George profiles of dogs we could give a loving home to. One of our friends had also adopted from Wild at Heart and after hearing their experience and seeing what a wonderful pooch their dog is we knew Wild at Heart was the way to go. Adopting from overseas felt like the right choice for us
We fell in love with Evie the moment we saw her photo. I had grown up with a pet spaniel and she had the same soppy, loveable look. Reading her profile a seeing that Wild at Heart knew little about her background but that she was found living in squalor broke our hearts, we knew we make her part of our family straight away.
We had already applied to Wild at Heart to register our interest of adoption and had had our initial phone interview. As soon as we called about Evie things were pretty easy. She was actually already on her way to the UK to stay with her foster family, so the hardest part ended up being figuring out how we were going to get her from County Durham (shout out to my dad who made a 15 hour round trip with me to pick Evie up).
I think the fact that Evie had been in the UK and with a family for a few weeks helped a lot with her settling in. They really were amazing and had other dogs that she could play with. When we brought her back to London, I was admittedly worried that she wouldn’t settle into her new surroundings but she really took it all in her stride which was a real surprise. I took a week off work to make sure she settled in properly/ have plenty of puppy cuddles with her and other than a few toilet accidents everything went smoothly.
Evie is such a joy. She comes to work with me most days and we are often stopped to be told how calm and friendly she is. We have two toddler aged nephews, who can be pretty raucous, but she happily plays with them and will let them walk her on the lead without pulling. We feel so lucky to have found her and can’t thank Wild at Heart enough for the work they do.
Adopting a rescue is a wonderful thing. You’re giving an animal a second chance and whilst there will be challenges (some of which you could get with a non-rescue) they will bring you so much love that you should just go for it.
‘As a kid I knew that I REALLY liked dogs but I don’t remember actually hanging out with any and I remember not knowing if it was ok to pet other peoples dogs so I just used to stare at dogs from afar and dream and hope and wonder!
In 2003 when I was studying textile design in Liverpool I did a project on ‘dogs that looked and dressed like their owners’. This was before society was fully immersed ‘inside’ the internet so I had got my hands on some amazing dog images cut out of newspapers and scanned in from books. I took a real shine to one particular image of a long haired chihuahua, cut him out photoshopped a snazzy outfit on him and made him the focus of my project. I nicknamed him Bobby and dreamt of our future together.
In 2017 I met a chorkie rescue dog called Lola. Her owner Fran was from Cyprus and saw how mesmerised I was with her dog so took it upon herself to make sure that I adopted my own and introduced me to Alex’s Farms of Stray Dogs on Facebook. Soon I was scrolling dogs obsessively and after enquiring about a few and them not sounding quite right, Joker the Chihuahua suddenly appeared. From what I know he was an unwanted pet and just abandoned at the shelter. Alex was super helpful in answering all my questions and reassuring me about the process and his personality. This was my first experience of the problem of stray and homeless dogs and I realised what amazing work she was doing and how important adopting a dog is.
My boyfriend likes playing pranks and the fact that this beautiful little chihuahua was called Joker was a sign! We had to get him. My boyfriend rode home on his bike that night shouting “Joker, you’re coming to London!!”
Alex introduced me to Wild at Heart Foundation and I had a skype chat to find out more about the whole adoption process. WAHF checked that we were a suitable match and it was a done deal. Joker was booked on a flight and the Eurostar. He was coming!
Luckily for him, he got to ride VIP on the aeroplane/ Eurostar as he was too small to be crated. So when Pet Express rocked up to drop him off, he jumped out of the van whereas the other dogs were much more exhausted and a little scared. Apparently he had been very vocal during the journey too! What a lad!
It was literally love at first sight. I was actually in shock for about a month after his arrival. I couldn’t quite believe that I was finally a dog owner and I had this special little animal to look after. I remember watching him breathe whilst he slept and feeling incredibly responsible. I spent at least the first 6 months worrying about weird things, googling dog stuff, taking him to explore the neighbourhood and wondering if he was ok and if he loved us.
He was an absolute dream from day one, unbelievably well trained and his temperament was exactly as WAHF had described him, ‘a sweet natured boy’. He is incredibly considerate and proper chilled out for a Chihuahua. We think he has a smidgen of Jack Russell in him as he is quite athletic, a total hit down the park and gives other dogs a proper run a round.
Since moving to London, Joker has modelled for a Mulberry x Mungo and Maud collaboration, got a job as Head of Security in my office, helped promote my boyfriend’s nightclub that raises mental health awareness in the music industry and been a life model to help raise money for WAHF. Amongst all this he is the best little furry pal we could have wished for. Having a rescue dog has definitely boosted our happiness and life purpose. Even staying in and watching the telly is better with your dog curled up next to you!
What an amazing experience it has been adopting with WAHF, we felt supported throughout and even afterwards the community supports and helps each other.
– Kate Fahy
‘It was love at first sight.
Back in August 2018 sitting round the pool on holiday in Spain I began flicking through my Instagram feed and Up pops a photo of a little ball of black fur staring at me with sad eyes from the Instagram page of @rosielondoner. This was the one – I knew it enough to ask the opinion of my two children who’s hopes I didn’t want to get up unless it was a real possibility that we could have her.
I’d been giving serious thought to getting another rescue dog for some time and had been looking on the wild at heart foundation site for months but with no luck (also trying to tempt a friend of mine to consider adopting one after losing her beagle, she eventually went on to adopt not 1 but 2 dogs from WAHF) they were all gorgeous and deserving but just not quite ‘the one’ anyhow, after spotting Tia on Instagram and, after some very thorough checks and numerous emails back and forth, little 5 month old Tia was on her way to South Mimms services after a very long journey from Cyprus.
I made the decision to adopt from abroad as in my experience not all countries have the same sentimentality towards dogs as we as a nation of dog lovers do. Obviously there is bad and good everywhere but on the whole, rescue centres in the UK are better funded and the dogs rarely live in such dire conditions as their cousins abroad. I also believe that a dog that needs a home , needs a home regardless of where it’s come from.
Tia has been an absolute superstar from the minute she was put into my arms at South Mimms services. She happily licked my joyful tears away with so much gusto that I knew she had a very sweet nature (just as she was described) and that we were going to get on just fine. Toilet training was done in a week and my daughter was delighted to see how quick she was to to learn sit, down, over, paw etc.
Tia has turned out to be just the most loving, funny, goofy, playful and adorable dog anyone could ask for! She gets on with all other dogs she comes across and is now smitten with her new house mate, a little oldie I’ve just adopted locally.’
‘I have wanted to adopt a rescue dog for a very long time. Earlier this year, I bit the bullet and decided to go for it and I can honestly say it’s the best decision I’ve ever made!
It all started when I read an article in the Evening Standard about Wild at Heart. I liked what I read and decided to get in touch, I explained the kind of dog I was after, not a long list of requirements but enough for me to think the selection may take a while. I wanted a dog that I could take to work with me on the tube (so he/she needed to be small enough to carry up escalators), have a temperament that would suit a busy office environment and not be too vocal. I didn’t expect a quick response, I thought it would take a while to find a potentially suitable dog but within two days I had an email back to say they had found a match – Benny, a dachshund cross currently residing in a dog pound in Cyprus.
I was sent photos and his measurements and was assured that if necessary Wild at Heart’s behaviourist would be available to help with any issues. I was nervous, I had never imagined adopting a dog without meeting them first but I decided that Benny was the dog for me and agreed that I would like to go ahead with the adoption.
Just under two months later I went to collect Benny (soon to be Mouse) from a motorway service station on the M40. He’d travelled from Cyprus via plane to Paris and channel tunnel to the UK and I was extremely nervous about how he would be when I picked him up. Myself and my other half went to meet a van containing lots of rescue dogs at 11.45 on a Saturday night, Mouse (formerly Benny) was gently bundled into a dog carrier and we travelled home to London having not even properly introduced ourselves! Arriving home, we were delighted to finally meet the little chap. Mouse literally flew out of his carrier and skidded across the floor to greet us. We were amazed to discover how happy he was, he was absolutely delighted to meet us and see his new home and then ran straight outside for a wee. After having played for a while he headed to his new bed and slept the whole night, waking to great excitement at 8am! Licks aplenty from Mouse we realised that we had totally lucked out. Mouse is the most loving, happy, well adjusted, house trained boy. Amazing.
So, in the seven weeks since he was adopted, myself and my partner have fallen totally in love with him. Mouse is the star of the party at work and greets everyone he meets with great excitement and joy. He travels happily on the tube and train and isn’t fazed one little bit by crowds. He is quite simply the best and I could not be happier. All who meet him want to know his story and I will tell anyone who will listen how much I owe to Wild at Heart. I only hope that everyone is as lucky as I am.’
– Sarah Mackay
‘We weren’t looking for another dog, but after seeing a link to the WAHF page on Facebook I had a little look on the adoptions page on the website. There she was. A blue-eyed little ball of loveliness. Her story goes that she was found in the sweltering heat in Cyprus with two blue eyed puppies. Only a year old herself this must have been so tough for her.
Both puppies were adopted almost immediately but Aster, formerly Kate, had to wait, and we are so pleased she did. When I saw how just how adorable she was, the fact that she loved cats and we have two, I knew I had to adopt her. I managed to convince my boyfriend the same!
I chose the name Aster as an aster is a blue flower and ‘asteri’ in Greek means star and she really is the perfect little star.
When I collected her it was like she had always been our dog, but unfortunately our Thai dog meat trade rescue Silk didn’t agree. My brother & sister-in-law helped out and fostered Aster for a few weeks while we worked with Silk & a wonderful trainer called Sharon.
A month later I collected Aster and we did a re-introduction with Silk which was supervised by Sharon. It went so well! Within 3 weeks they were friends and getting on so well.
Aster has shown herself to be the most wonderful, funny and such an incredibly loving dog. She can’t get close enough to cuddle you, lies like a person when she gets in bed for a cuddle and is the most sweet and happy soul. She loves nothing more that running along the beach chasing a ball (a miniature tennis ball as normal size ones are just too big!), and everyone who meets her falls in love with her – I really cannot blame them. So friendly to other dogs, visitors and cats!
She really has made the family feel complete and we couldn’t imagine life without her.
HUGE thanks to the team at WAHF for being so amazing and bringing this wonderful dog in to our lives.’
– Laura Walker
‘We adopted Ace, our gorgeous Pointer-Cross, through Wild at Heart Foundation in November 2015 and it was the best decision we’ve ever made. I had wanted a dog for ages and Simon and I agreed that if we were to get a dog, it had to be a rescue. We looked at rescue centres close to home, but many of the dogs had big issues and with our son being only 4 at the time we didn’t want to risk taking on a dog that wasn’t right for our family. A good friend mentioned Wild at Heart Foundation to Simon and as soon as he came home we looked online and fell for a dog called Sonny. Sonny had already been reserved, but we were offered his brother, Ace!
A couple of weeks before Ace arrived we had a phone call from WAHF to say that Sonny’s adoption had fallen through, so we spoke to my Dad who said he’d adopt him! Ace came to us at 6 months old, having been with an amazing foster carer, Barbara in Cyprus, after being found on a dump at 4 weeks old. It was clear that he’d been given a huge amount of love in his foster home as although he was nervous for the first 24 hours when he arrived, he soon gained confidence and quickly made himself at home! He came fully house trained and apart from a few pairs of flip-flops, and a few of Louie’s toys, he hasn’t chewed anything big!
We feel so incredibly lucky to have him. He’s amazing with our two kids and two cats also! We have such huge respect for Wild at Heart Foundation and what they do. From the outset they were so professional and really helped to support us at every stage of the adoption process. The home check was really thorough and they made sure that we knew what we were signing up to and that we were fully committed to caring for and loving our new companion. Ace has brought so much fun and love to our home and we can’t thank WAHF enough.
Ace arrived the very same day Simon, my partner, went into hospital with a burst appendix. Complications meant he was in hospital for almost 2 months. Ace helped the kids and I through what was a really difficult time and when Simon came home, Ace was not only a fantastic companion to him but also a great rehab buddy. Simon was out walking him most days and it definitely helped his recovery. Ace is the most perfect dog and he brings us so much happiness. He gets so many compliments when he’s out and we’re always recommending adopting from Wild at Heart Foundation.’
– Natasha Back
‘After losing our beloved beagle, Betty in late 2017, I knew our next dog would be a rescue and definitely not a puppy. In January of 2018 we agreed to look after a friend’s dog for a few months (turned out to be 11 in the end!!), whilst she was travelling. Having a dog in the house again was wonderful. Then my lovely, dog loving friend sent me a picture of Hudson. I fell immediately in love with him, unfortunately for us, but wonderfully for him, he had already been reserved and found his forever home. The fire had been lit and soon myself and the children were scrolling, daily, through the WAHF website. I was an emotional wreck just reading their stories. We each made a short list and WAHF suggested 2 dogs from it that would best compliment our family. What a decision, but unanimously we chose Miley (was Judy). At 3 she was still young enough to be the playmate the kids wanted but past that puppy stage!!
She arrived on our doorstep a few short weeks later, tired, skinny and a bit smelly. She spent the first night sleeping on a kitchen chair and she couldn’t get enough of the attention that was coming her way. She is the gentlest soul (apart from barking at the cat), and rarely leaves my side. She is a dream on walks, off the lead and perfect recall within 6 weeks. She loves to chase a ball and isn’t keen on the heat! To say she has stolen our hearts would be an understatement. We were complete as a family again………until…….. in November 2018, I was scrolling through Instagram and there was Buddy (and his brother Colman), sat there on a yellow cushion looking as scrumptious as could be. Being a puppy (which I had sworn I would never have again), I knew he’d soon be snatched up so I messaged immediately and amazingly he was ours! I decided not to tell the children and kept it as a surprise. Apparently it was the best Christmas present EVER, (even though they still had to wait another month for his arrival). Having a puppy in the house hasn’t been easy all the time but he is just the cutest, funniest little thing. Miley has been an amazing big sister and is so patient with him. They play together constantly and keep each other company when we are out. He steals all our socks and chews sticks constantly. He terrorises squirrels and pigeons and would dearly like to eat our guinea pig but we wouldn’t change him for the world (except maybe to stop him eating his own poo!!).
I am constantly telling people about WAHF and am pleased to say that my neighbour adopted from Wild at Heart as did 2 of my friends!! We love being part of this wonderful family and are so grateful to everyone involved in bringing these 2 special dogs into our lives.’
‘I’ve pretty much wanted a dog my whole life and on my 29th birthday a friend suggested I write a list of things that I wanted to experience before I hit 30! I realised that having a dog was one of those things. I’m not quite sure why I waited so long – working hours in London, the expense of doggy day care perhaps or just people saying what a huge responsibility it is (which it is!). So when my boyfriend and I decided to leave London in favour of the Mediterranean dream I knew the time had finally come to adopt a dog. Having spent countless Sundays reading the Success Stories on Wild at Heart Foundation’s website myself, I soon fell in love with Ralphie’s face and his description: ‘a young dog with a big heart’ with a ‘gentle and calm nature’. I filled in the application form straight away, and I was so excited when I found out that the timing would work for us and that Ralphie would be ours.
We had to wait a while to adopt Ralphie because he was so skinny and he needed to put on weight before he could be sent to us. The timing coincided with our move from London to Greece, which took place via France. One morning Ralphie took a flight from Cyprus all the way to Paris. Ralphie bounded merrily out of the van; he was a bundle of excitement to begin with so the first few days were about helping him settle and providing a calm environment for him. We were lucky as my boyfriend’s family home has a huge garden, which eased the transition – Ralphie couldn’t get enough of rolling in the grass and sniffing the plants all day long. Two weeks and countless holes and depotted plants later we hit the road all the way to Greece involving almost 30 hours of travel by car and boat!
Ralphie did amazingly well on our travels; he curled up patiently in a ball for the car journeys and the overnight boat stay. He has since also been on a holiday with us to a nearby island and it turns out he is quite the swimmer! Just 3 months later he has settled with us in our home in Athens. We are consulting an amazing dog behaviourist here who trains dogs for shows and she is helping us crate train him, teaching us all sorts of techniques to stop him from pulling on the lead, and even some tricks! Aside from crying for a good 10 minutes every-time we leave the house, some pulling on the lead and chewing any form of footwear at any given opportunity, he is a cuddly delight (with the silkiest skin)!
When Ralphie is ready and more mature (he’s about 1 year old now) we will be going back to the WAHF to help us find a buddy for him – they do an incredible job and we are so grateful to them!’
– Eleni Xanthis
We had been contemplating getting another dog for a little while when Pippa popped up on the Wild at Heart Instagram feed as being available for adoption from Romania. I’d become aware of WAHF after my friend and colleague adopted from Greece. I was very impressed by the work they carried out and periodically dropped by online to see who was in need of a home.
Up until that point we hadn’t seriously committed to adding to our brood. We have a rescue Jack Russell (Bella) who has been with us for 5 years and is 9 years old, and a rescue Siamese who is 10.
The moment that I saw Pippa though, I just knew that she was our dog. I showed her to my partner Gary, and immediately filled in the inquiry form online. We were quickly booked in for a FaceTime home check which was very comprehensive. The fact that we’d re-homed quite a troubled dog before meant that we were prepared for all eventualities and took lots of advice from the behaviourist at WAHF, as well as our own dog walker who is also a behaviourist, around how to introduce Pippa to our existing pets and to our home.
Pippa arrived, petrified, at 1am on a very cold January evening 8 months ago. She tried to get out of her slip lead in the street and I suddenly wondered what on earth we were doing! I got her safely into the house and we laid out a blanket for her in the hall with some food. She was very stressed, but within half an hour had climbed into the bed that we’d set up for her in the spare room. The introduction to our existing pets went very smoothly, and Pippa seemed to take everything in her stride. We had only one incident where she peed in the house, and then she was suddenly house trained. It took us over a week to get her to go on a walk, but after much encouragement, and driven by her desire not to be left out when we went out with Bella, she eventually came along. To say she now enjoys her walks is a complete understatement. She loves haring around the field by our house and playing with the other dogs on her daily walk with the walker.
We have been astounded by her! Pippa is the very definition of emotional resilience. She assesses every situation, takes everything in her stride, and is determined not to be scared. She is also insanely affectionate – she places a very determined little paw she places on your arm to let you know she wants to be fussed. We both feel that the fact that there was an existing dog in the house really let Pippa settle and Bella has been fantastic at showing Pippa how to behave, and helping her to integrate into our home. Bella is too much of a grumpy old Jack Russell for them to cuddle up together, but they look out for each other, and Kiki the cat – they really are a little gang. Pippa really is an amazing dog, and we love her to pieces. My instinct was right – she really is our dog.
– Claire McArdle
‘I wanted a dog as a companion for my collie, Gizmo. Throughout the adoption process I felt so supported, but also that the interview was more than capable of checking that I was the correct owner for Foxy, which is the most important thing! I was fully briefed on Foxy’s behavioural issues, and given time to think if I could take him on.
The first few weeks of having Foxy were a challenge. He was very reactive in new areas, and the smallest thing would set him off into an episode of biting and lunging – which was solely aimed at me as his handler. I spent the first few weeks covered in bruises on my arms and legs, and was honestly questioning if this dog could be brought under control…but the episodes got less and less with positive reinforcement and consistent behaviour from me, and now Foxy is an absolute delight to walk on lead.
He still doesn’t like large lorries and will practically pull my arm out of the socket to get to a squirrel, but these are so minor compared to his previous issues that I’m sure he’ll stop in time. The moment that I knew Foxy wasn’t going anywhere was the first time he fell asleep on me – this ex-street dog had found his human and forever home, and I’d gained another best friend.
Foxy and Gizmo get along famously – we have our few odd grumpy moments, but you can usually find them playing together or curled up on the sofa with me. It feels like Foxy has been here forever, rather than the five months it has been. I wouldn’t be without him!’
‘Velvet and Daphne came as a pair. When they’d been discovered, locked up and abandoned in Cyprus, they’d tried to separate them, but Daphne – once known as Velma, but answering to Daphne immediately; from a previous life perhaps? – refused to leave her best friend’s side, so they were taken and re-homed as a duo. I say re-homed, but of course they’d never known a home, or seen grass, or bodies of water, woods, cities, warm radiators, television programs.
My partner and I already had Dudley, an elderly philosopher of a Jack Russell, and hadn’t been looking for two more, but there was something about their story, their bond, not to mention their cooky looks (Daphne a sturdy demi-basset, Velvet an elegant, inky, carry-on-size pointer) that was impossible to resist. It all happened very quickly, we reserved them, went through the checks with the incredibly helpful and compassionate staff at WAHF and three weeks later – in a scene that might have been from James Bond – we had a midnight rendezvous in a windswept car park outside London.
They were, like so many of the doggies that have left testimonials here, exhausted, disorientated and frightened. We live half in West Sussex and half in central London, as well as travelling a lot (always with dogs) so we thought, after a few bit-by-bit, paw-by-paw days settling in, we should get them used to the life adventurous, packed them into the back of the wagon and did a Christmas tour of the country to see family members and get them used to the excitingly never-ending versions of life outside of a dog pound. Yes there were setbacks, issues from time to time, but what was, and is, so amazing, so heartwarming and, frankly, so tear-inducing, is how brave they are, how keen to learn, how quick to be kind and sociable. Life: they just seem to get it.
In case you hadn’t guessed, I love dogs, Ali does too. Both of us always have and always will. They’ve been around us since childhood – my official christening photo featured baby-me swaddled between two bassets – but this experience, of adopting dogs, has been a new one and I have a feeling it will be the most fulfilling, and thrilling, chapter to date. I’ve just spent two years writing a new novel (Tomorrow, published by Penguin in May). The story spans centuries, seen through the eyes of a dog that is 217 years old, as he searches amidst the courts and battlefields of Europe for the master who granted him immortality. It is an emotional and epic story, but at its heart is a simple thing: the relationship between human and dog, that most ancient of bonds and most pure form of love. Not that I needed reminding, but Daphne and Velvet have brought it all back to me in the most startling way possible.’
– Damian Dibben
‘Buster, as a 7 month old Carpathian mountain shepherd dog mix joined our family of two black Labs (and two humans) in October 2014 after unfortunately having to be re-homed due to no fault of his own other than being a very traumatised little dog. To begin with he was wary and afraid of everything (grass, leaves, air, furniture, socks, food … EVERYTHING!!) as he had only had limited experiences as a puppy owing to him being the last of 7 puppies to be re-homed and had never really been ‘part’ of a pack. Four months later he is a fully signed up member of the family, can out-cute his (hugely adorable) brother and sister, has fully integrated into our pack, is playful, wonderfully artful … and clearly very happy.
He is playful and loves having hugs which is just as well because we cannot walk past without giving him a squeeze. He stands there and scratches our legs when he wants more! We has a wonderful family with Bella and Bailey and he is such a fabulous addition. They are all so different and yet equally adorable. We think he will most probably want to be alpha dog which is fine as we think that it currently weighs heavy on Bailey’s shoulders who would rather not have that burden.
There are no more rewarding moments than watching him speed across the lawn, either in pursuit of or being pursued by Bailey and Bella, and then hurtle back in the opposite direction 10 seconds later. He responds to training, jostles for treats and has perfect manners. Apart from anything else he is a great pet.
We have never done anything more rewarding than offer Buster a home. He has more than returned the favour by finding and being himself. It has been and continues to be a total joy.
We would urge anyone, who has the love and commitment for owning a dog, to give a rescue dog the chance of a new life. It has been a hugely rewarding experience for us and we would do the same again and again when circumstances allow.’
‘After sifting through dozens of cute puppy pictures, we chose the scruffiest, happiest looking puppy with sparkling black eyes and black spots, standing on a dirt mound in Cyprus, surrounded by a pack of equally naughty looking friends. Jeffrey. I knew immediately that he was our dog, so he flew with his dog passport to join us in the Cotswolds.
From day one, Jeffrey has been a best friend, companion and co-conspirator to my children and me. He communicates so much love and concern through his spectacular eyebrows and he still sits on the hilltop admiring the view with a palpable sense of gratitude. He was too handsome to remain single forever, so when we saw a picture of Dolly, his equally scruffy, spotty, slightly chubbier female counterpart from Cyprus, we had to have her too.
Dolly had a rough start, having been separated from her puppies and then in a kennel in Cyprus for two years. She is now mother and nanny to us all, with her gloomy loving eyes and tail wag that involves her entire body. They play together and with us all day and then sleep in full body spoon with at least one of us every night. Rescuing them pales in comparison to the love and joy they have brought to us.
It is so hard to articulate the story of Jeffrey and Dolly. This is a drawing my son did, which sums it up pretty well. My son is playing by himself in the playroom, my daughter is playing by herself and Jeffrey is curled under the table sleeping. Then Dolly arrives from a kennel in Cyprus and does her little wiggle, saying hello and it makes everyone dance.’
– Lily Atherton-Hanbury
‘Darling Rocco joined our family 6 months ago and I can not thank WAHF enough.
We had wanted to adopt a rescue dog for some time and after doing a lot of research WAHF popped up on social media. The projects they were leading all over the world, and the awareness campaigns were the main reasons I was drawn in. I wanted to help, and how can you resist all those faces.
I immediately contacted them to see the process involved in adopting, I wanted to ensure I was one the right candidate, the security and safety for the dogs was my precedent, I didn’t want to let anyone down. Then little Rocco (originally Dingo) popped up, we fell for him instantly! 3 months later, when Rocco was old enough and had all his jabs, we were off to Heathrow to pick him up, I could not have been more nervous or overwhelmed with emotion. He was so little and scared but all I could think was that he was now safe and well and going to be surrounded by so much love.
Rocco was 4 months old when we got him and it was evident that we would have to go back to basics, he wasn’t toilet trained, had had minimal contact with roads or cars, never been on a lead BUT oh did he love cuddles and affection. We decided to crate train him which I would highly recommend, as I would be taking him to work with me, he needed to know which was his space and which was ours.
The first few weeks we had ups ands downs, mainly when it came to bed time… he would cry, which was upsetting, after trying and testing suggestions – classical music seemed to work its magic and also having a blanket over the cage. We took our time, Rocco chose the pace, and we got there with time and patience and lots of treats and rewards, not to mention funny looks from passers-by hearing our doggy talk!! He now takes himself off to bed, maybe after a cheeky little cuddle in our bed. As much as you say no dogs in the bed, we just can’t resist his charm!!!
We go on lots of family adventures, he’s been surfing in St Ives, Paddleboarding in Cornwall, Canoeing on the Thames, deer stalking in Richmond. He loves his big brother Perry and has been learning the tricks of the trade from him. He goes to the local coffee shop at the weekend for a flirt with the girls, who spoil him rotten. Next big cameo role for Rocco will be our wedding in September, he is our family and I could not imagine our lives without him. We love him dearly.
All I can say is a big fat THANK YOU to the whole team at WAHF and not forgetting the star of the show Rocco. You are all amazing!’
– Rose Belderbos
‘My husband George and I have had dogs our whole lives. As soon as we moved into a house with a garden, a dog was the top of our agenda! I discovered Wild at Heart Foundation via Instagram; both of us fell head over heels with Jay (Dexter’s former name) as soon as we saw him. We couldn’t believe our luck when we received the email to say he was still available!
From that moment until we welcomed him home, the team at Wild at Heart Foundation were wonderful. Always available to offer advice and calm our nerves when we had the usual queries. A home check to check your suitability is completed via Facetime and that’s a great opportunity to ask as many questions as you have (we had many!).
Dexter is from Cyprus, he was abandoned in a pound as a young pup with his brother Sam. He was 4 months old when we collected him at 1am on a chilly October night. We had been waiting for him for about 6 weeks after our homecheck (we had to wait for him to have all his vaccinations). He was tiny when he arrived, I couldn’t believe how calm he was after his long journey! We’d taken an evening nap as we had expected that he would keep us awake all night but as soon as we got him home he fell asleep!
It took him a few days to settle in, all new sights and sounds made him unsure and shaky. We crate-trained him and that was the best advice we had, it became his “safety zone”.
From the moment he arrived he has been the most loving, sociable and loyal pup. I have never had a dog as affectionate as Dexter. We have had our fair share of challenges (most notably the digging and the chewing!) but that’s what you’d expect with any pup. He is nervous still in new environments, especially when he meets new men for the first time and recall has been a challenge; a Cypriot hound, when he is mid-hunt no recall or treat will distract him. That said, he is improving and WAHF’s dog trainer has been brilliant and is always at the end of the phone with advice.
We are in touch with the family who adopted Dex’s brother Sam, it’s been a huge support sharing stories. We met up with them recently and it was such a joy watching the brothers play together again! The whole Wild at Heart Foundation community are fantastic, everyone shares stories in the adopter’s Facebook group – it’s good to know you are not alone when you have a challenging day!
Before Dexter arrived I read somewhere that it’s like rescue dogs know they have been saved by you. I couldn’t agree with this more. Dexter has brought so much happiness to our lives. He gets us out of the house on country walks at weekends and everyone asks about him all the time, he is such a character and so loved! It’s a big lifestyle change getting any dog; for a rescue you need to be prepared to have plenty of patience. The rewards in return are worth it and if you are reading this unsure whether to adopt or not, DO IT! We cannot image life without Dexter now.’
– Lyndsay Morgan
‘My husband and I both knew we wanted a dog but weren’t sure when. Having heard about the Wild at Heart Foundation, I followed the Instagram account and for a couple of months we kept an eye out for a dog that felt like ours. When we saw Casper our decision was made, as he had these ‘adopt me’ eyes and cute big floppy ears. We were in love.
Casper was five months by the time we chose him and six months before he arrived from Cyprus. Once we did the home check on Facetime and were approved, WAHF then goes on to book a flight for your dog which can take a couple of weeks, depending on availability. I have to admit feeling nervous before Casper arrived– after all, we hadn’t even met him!
Casper arrived home at midnight after a very long journey and was a bit shaky. He sniffed around his new home and went to my husband, who had chicken and rice for him which is meant to help settle their stomachs after the journey. Casper whined the first couple of nights (no doubt missing his friends from the foster home in Cyprus) but quickly settled into his new home after that.
He’s been such a joy to have in our family and is the most good-natured and kind dog. Everyone falls in love with him!
A couple of months ago, we decided to give Casper a friend and we knew we would definitely go through Wild at Heart again after such a fantastic experience. When they rescued a litter of puppies, we emailed about them to see if they were available. We chose our Tarka, a black dog with white paws. I sort of knew I would like a black dog next as apparently they are usually the toughest to re-home.
Casper and Tarka are the best of friends. Tarka is much smaller than Casper but has such great self-confidence and they both enjoy playing together. She’s learning a lot from Casper, and now that Casper is the ‘older’ dog, he’s settled down quite a bit. Of course, it is a lot of work having two young dogs at once, but I’m happy that they both have a friend to grow up with. Casper and Tarka helped make our house a home. Thank you WAHF!’
– Chelsea Jones
‘First it was a dream that my incredibly Type-A self presented to my other half via a PowerPoint titled ‘The Puppy Plan’.
Then there was Kiwi, a sleepy looking Labrador pup we instantly fell in love with on the WAHF website.
Seeing her way over in Cyprus was far more effective than my ten PowerPoint slides and off we went with the application process to offer her a forever home.
Kiwi’s hardship in finding a home was a stroke of luck for us and I can’t imagine our home without her face peering up at us at all times. Despite being ever so prepared, September came and her arrival day was incredibly emotional. There I was bawling my eyes out that this little one was finally here while poor Kiwi was probably just wondering where she was and WHY oh WHY it was so cold. She fell asleep on my lap on the drive back and just like that, she was home.
From day one she’s been an absolute dream – we had fears of her crying all night, destroyed cushions or intense separation anxiety. None of that happened, other than an odd fascination for chewing flip-flops (it’s been two months and we are on pair no.4), and as cheesy as it sounds, I really can’t remember what life was like before she got here.
She’s nosy, forever hungry and has a cemetery of stuffed toys she’s methodically gutted. She’s a joy to watch run around at the park with her buddies and nothing beats not just her tail but her entire backside wagging when we get home from work.
Two months in and a few health mishaps (relentless bronchitis!) behind us, I am so incredibly grateful to WAHF for the chance they have given us to offer Kiwi a loving home. I am constantly amazed at how quickly she found her place amongst us and picked her spot on the sofa.
We have lots to do in the way of training, and I swear some day soon she’s going to run up a tree after a squirrel, but the rewards of adopting Kiwi far outweigh the uncertainties that came with bringing home a pup we’d never met.
In short, she’s the best leap of faith we ever took.’
– Victoire Frencia
‘Back in February this year my husband saw a picture of Chester and sent it to me from the WAHF Facebook page. He knew I loved Collies and although we already had a dog (a crazy Irish terrier) we had discussed maybe getting another dog. Chester looked just adorable!! Chester was already in the UK but hadn’t settled into his first home. We arranged to go and visit him the following Sunday.
We took our dog Piper to introduce them and they bonded instantly! We took Chester home that very day! He seemed so happy to be with us right from the start. He got straight in the car and sat licking and playing with Piper the whole way home. We bought a new bed for them to share & they did this happily from the start.
Chester was quite reserved with humans when he first came to us. Didn’t play with toys or even try to join in with Piper in spite of ours & Piper’s coaxing. When he finally ran after a ball it was like we had just won the lottery!! Then came the new soft toys. He ignored them at first, but Piper didn’t give up and a tug of war ensued. The mess was easy to overlook because at last Chester was playing!! A sure sign he was settling in.
We have had very little problems with him at all. Only one incident of a chewed bench! But it’s hard to know if it was him or Piper and they’re letting the other take the blame. Also one bite on Piper’s ear and face. Stupidly left them alone with a pigs trotter each while I popped out! Obviously Piper tried to get two! Never again, so lesson learned.
Chester has learned to sit and wait with Piper before he is given the command to eat his dinner in the evening. A HUGE achievement as he would wolf his and then try to get Piper’s when he first came. He also now jumps up at us when we come home, where he used to just slightly wag his tail and look up pleadingly like he was hoping with all of his heart that we’d notice him and give him love. He had also recently found his bark! He didn’t do this for about 3 months, but now runs to the back garden gate to let anyone who wishes to listen know that it’s his territory.
He is brilliant with any children that visit (unlike Piper, who is so clumsy and boisterous he knocks them over if they’re small). He has the most gentle and loving nature. He just craves attention & love. He has made not just us, but our little mad Piper so happy since he came home. It is like he has been one of the family for much longer than 4 months. He is definitely a part of our family forever.’
– Elaine Pettit
‘Late one Friday evening (fizz had been involved!) I was looking at Nikki Tibbles’ floral masterpieces on Instagram and I saw the link to WAHF and took a look. My husband Tim and I had been considering getting a third dog, particularly as I had just given up work, so instead of looking for a puppy I thought an older rescue would be ideal. I saw Bessie’s face on the site and her soulful chocolate button eyes had me smitten instantly.
Tim and myself had our home check and all went well. Ruby our Cavalier and Molly our Westie behaved well throughout, so we started to get excited – new collars and beds for all, and of course new toys as well (my friends daughter Zara sourced Bessie some fancy Juicy Couture balls!) I had regular contact with Bessie’s foster mummy in Greece and the WAHF team too, and then some weeks later Bessie arrived at 8pm on a glorious June evening. She was tired and stiff and frightened to leave the van. Eventually she came with me though and met Ruby and Molly who seemed nonplussed, which we felt was a good sign.
First night all canines slept peacefully together. There then began a stream of visitors to meet this international celebrity. Bessie has been such a hit with everyone, including Alison our groomer, who gave her a one to one spa day. Her kindness and gentleness mixed with a tail that literally never stops wagging has made her a very popular girl.
Bessie’s settling in is still a work in progress. She doesn’t really like walks and is afraid of cars so we tend to go out later in the day when it’s quiet. We call her our con-air maximum security prisoner as we move her from the car to house in case she is spooked and tries to run off. She always wears a harness though, which gives peace of mind. When she arrived she was afraid of the dark and we had to be carried out for the last wee of the day but she is braver now. Bangs or loud noises still frighten Bessie.
Other days we are reminded how far we have come – like the first time she got on our bed with the other two dogs, the day she jumped on the dining table and the fact she uses the sofa as a show jump now! I love Bessie, she is my shadow. Her loyalty to me and her gentleness shine through. I can’t imagine my family without her. Whilst I sleep she guards the top of the stairs- she has eyelashes that look like something Shu Umura sell and her heart is as full of love for us as ours is for her .
I accept that like a special forces dog she exits a room backwards and sits with her back to the wall and she accepts that Bessie BooBoo is what I love to call her. My favourite sound of the day is as she bounds up the stairs first thing in the morning with that wagging tail and her never ending licks. Bessie always looks like she is smiling, well she is really smiling now as the queen of the castle in her new home!’
– Sarah Willitts
‘Albert arrived at his furever home in the UK from Cyprus. He was very quiet the first week but quickly became a confident, cheeky and charming little chap. He accepted the other animals in the household with ease, including visiting cats and dogs. Albert loves throwing his toys up in the air and playing tug with his doggy sisters. He is so determined to win the tug toy that he literally pulls Wilma (of German Shepherd mix) along the floor as she holds onto the other end of the tug toy! Albert doesn’t like the famous Manchester rain so he has to be persuaded to leave the house if it’s wet outside, but he happily wears his coat (he was mistaken for a duck one day whilst wearing said coat!). He barks at cyclists and joggers and we think there may be a language problem – he absolutely refuses to sit when asked! There have been a couple of medical issues which we are in the process of sorting out, so it’s been important to have suitable insurance/funds to manage his health. He’s an absolute joy and his happy howls in the morning let me know that adopting him was the best thing ever.’
– Siobhan Foley
‘When I learned through Instagram that 40+ dogs in a Cypriot shelter were in danger of being euthanised back in April, my first thought was: how much can I afford to give? When we had considered it from all angles and decided to take the plunge, everything happened necessarily fast. With fairly open minds and plenty of room, WAHF suggested that we might be interested in one of the bigger shelter residents, less likely to be adopted due to their size.
The day we met Shadow, it was a bit of a shock for all of us. He was smaller than we expected, with his ribs and hip bones still sticking out, and absolutely terrified – understandably. Though the process of settling in has been slow, it has been so rewarding to earn Shadow’s trust and see his confidence building. He has the physical scars to prove that his past was rough, and the mental scars will take even longer to heal; he is still quite anxious around the house and often growls when Scott comes down the stairs, but has largely overcome his nervousness around roads and has even plucked up the courage to sit with me on the sofa!
Although some people have eagerly shared their own stories of dogs rescued from abroad, others have questioned why we would rescue a dog from Cyprus when there are homeless dogs ‘on our doorstep’. While I don’t think Shadow is any more deserving than those dogs abandoned in the UK, I absolutely don’t believe that he has any less right to a healthy, hopeful future and a long life. The first time he ran in joyous circles around us at the end of the lead after two weeks of near-constant sleeping, it was clear that it would all be worth it – it was wonderful to see him expressing his gladness at being alive. The fact that he’ll now cuddle up to me when 4 months ago he would go into a semi-catatonic state if you tried to touch him is amazing.
By no means has it been an easy ride. On the first night, Shadow ignored the huge plush bed we bought for him and slept on the dining table. It took putting the bed on the dining table for him to get used to it, and then placing chairs to stop him getting on the table for him to sleep on the bed! Shadow has stolen pizza, raided the dustbin (on more than one occasion), and chewed phone chargers, knitting projects, remote controls, and every single coaster he’s able to lay teeth on, but he has also transformed our lives positively beyond measure.
At first we thought the new member of our family got his name because he was scared of his own Shadow; then everybody reminded us of his Golden Retriever namesake in Homeward Bound; but now I know that it’s because we’re closer than pages that stick in a book.’
– Katy Edgington
‘Rescuing a dog is a bit like having kids – you’re not really sure what you are going to get personality wise, but when your bundle of fluff arrives you know you will love them unconditionally.
Agreeing to rescue a dog that you have not met in person is enough to send alarm bells ringing for anyone. So why did we do it? Firstly a designer pup bred to line the pockets of those breeding it just was not for us. Secondly, we did try and rescue from the UK however hit a brick wall due to A. having a child, B. having a cat, and C. working (it’s not ideal but should not rule you out of being suitable to give a beloved dog a home). We found out about Wild at Heart Foundation by mere chance when I followed Louise Redknapp on Instagram at the time she rescued a dog from Cyprus. Following all the WAHF social accounts, it took 2 months before I contacted them having researched as much as I could about the process of rescuing from overseas. Talking to them via email, phone and then FaceTime, I was armed with even more knowledge about what was involved with the process. It was then some 4-6 weeks before a little worried looking face caught my eye on their Instagram. The description that he was sweet as sugar and not a bad bone in his body swung it – this was the dog for us, and he would be called Freddie.
WAHF were really helpful sending us as many pictures as they could, arranging for a cat test (although it is worth noting that you will still need to train the dog, but this was pretty straight forward for us once he arrived) and sending us videos of him meeting children and other dogs. We spent 4 eager weeks waiting for Freddie to arrive… (buying everything we could – it really was like preparing for your first child to be born!)
Fast forward to now, 7 months since Freddie arrived with us, and our hearts have been warmed and our lives changed. Our bundle of fluff is one of the few that arrives from abroad more nervous than others, and has needed that extra love and attention to make him feel secure having experienced abandonment and fear in his life (Freddie is around 2 and therefore has some life experience behind him, not all of which has been positive). Our progress in rehabilitating him to accept love and trust again is a journey filled with ups and downs, feelings of pride and frustration.
Freddie, a Dachshund Spaniel cross, is so obedient, gentle, has been incredibly easy to train, and has the biggest heart full of love. His fear does haunt him but we are here to support him and guide him back to full happiness and contentment – we could not imagine him with anyone else. Watching him chase the ball at the park for the first time, or eat side by side with the cat, or gently lick our faces to show his trust makes it all worthwhile.
There is a wonderful supportive community between other adopters and the Wild at Heart Foundation team – it has been so helpful to be able to turn to their behaviourist whose knowledge and training methods are up to date and brilliant, and all the lovely people who share this unique journey with us.’
– Katie Burgess
‘We adopted Freddie in January 2016 after I finally convinced Jud that we needed a dog to accompany the 2 cats we already had! Like so many other people who adopted from WAHF we initially tried UK rescue centres but due to us both working (although rarely both with the same hours) and the cats, we hit a brick wall. I found WAHF through Instagram and realised that these guys held the answer to our quest.
After trawling the website every day looking for the right dog, Freddie was suggested to us as he hadn’t settled in his previous home. Originally he was from Cyprus but had been living in North Wales most recently- cue a trip up the motorway to meet him (and bring him home!).
He settled in immediately and stole our hearts. He loves a cuddle when you’re watching TV and he took really well to training classes. He can be unsure of some children and he loves chasing joggers, which can be embarrassing – he’s not got a vicious bone in him but he has a very loud, deep bark so can appear scary, especially as he can run very fast!
After a year we decided that since Freddie loved spending time with all other dogs maybe it would be nice to get him a permanent pal. Once again I began the near constant trawling of the website but also spoke to the WAHF team about what type of dog would suit our lifestyle and would obviously be a good fit for Freddie. Soon we saw photos of Sally and we fell in love!
At 3.30am on a Tuesday morning Sally arrived on our doorstep. Although people always say that you need to have dogs meet each other in neutral territory we didn’t have the chance at that time of day. Luckily for all Sally and Freddie got on from the first moment chasing each other around the garden before she conked out!
Sally has been slightly harder work than Freddie. She doesn’t always remember her size and can jump at people which makes them nervous and she isn’t best friends with every dog we meet but she’s getting better every day and a pocket constantly full of treats definitely helps.
Having two dogs is amazing and hard work all at the same time! With these two it’s all or nothing! They’re either chasing each other round the house with no care for the cup of tea you might be enjoying, or sleeping – there is no in between! Taking two dogs out by yourself can be hard and food and vets obviously costs a bit more but would we change anything? Not a chance. They are both integral parts of our family and everyone who meets them loves them. Freddie was a part of Jud’s proposal to me last year and later this year they will both take a starring role in our wedding!
As other adopters have said, there really is a great WAHF community on Facebook and Instagram and we’ve spoken to many people when we have difficult days or want to celebrate.’
– Emma Shaw
‘I adopted Sadie on the 30th March 2017 – I’ve had cats all my life and always loved dogs, but I am a first time dog owner and also single and I work, so I had always thought I couldn’t have a dog. A year ago I completely changed my lifestyle and gave up drinking, getting into recovery, and as I grew as a person I also felt I had more time in my life to commit to a dog. I spoke to people at work with dogs and found out more about the concept of doggy day care! My cats are rescues from Celia Hammond and I knew I had to rescue a dog too.
My friend had previously adopted from WAHF and after speaking with the team, they seemed to understand me and my lifestyle. My colleague at work who has a dog actually spotted Sadie (then Dolly) on the website and thought she sounded perfect as she had met cats, and seemed very chilled for a one year old. The checks were thorough and no problem, and the support with what I needed to do to get ready for Sadie’s arrival. I also spoke to the behaviourist at length about my fears of the cats not coping. I bought a crate, and lots of other bits and then just waited.
When Sadie arrived on the 30th, she had been travelling for four days and the couriers were so lovely with her. She was really scared of course, and didn’t know who the hell I was! I was equally as overwhelmed and didn’t really know what I needed to do, so we just hung out. The next few weeks are a bit of a blur, but she soon became house trained with puppy pads and encouragement. The cats reacted in different ways, but she never chased them and they all now rub along together just fine.
She didn’t like walks at first, and whenever she just stopped, I would pick her up and carry her for a little while, and then try again – I don’t know that this would work for all dogs, but yesterday we did a 14km dog walk and she only needed to be carried once! She’s just such a lovely natured dog, and the support I have received from WAHF has been amazing. She developed a sudden refusal to go into the kitchen, and they were just a phone call away for advice. She’s now fine to go in there again. I feel completely supported. The description of Sadie’s temperament was 100% accurate and her welfare was always number one priority. She is an absolute joy and we are both learning every day, but after three months, I can’t wait for the rest of our lives together!
Thank you Wild at Heart Foundation!’
– Octavia Landy