Nothing makes us happier than seeing stray dogs settle into a loving forever family, and we’re so grateful to our incredible family of adopters for choosing to adopt a dog from overseas. Thanks to you, we’ve happily rehomed rescue dogs from all over the world to loving homes.
If you’re thinking of rescuing a Wild at Heart dog, our Success Stories are a great place to read about other adopters’ experiences. You can also find out more about the process, and – when you’re ready to get started – browse our rescue dogs currently looking for a home.
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.’
‘We were looking for another dog as we were devastated when 3 years ago our dog walker lost one of our jack Russell’s and he ran a long way home and got hit by a bus a few minutes from our house – our female jack russell struggled with the loss too – they were virtually inseparable.
Exactly 2 years ago, we decided that given our circumstances we wanted to adopt a dog and heard about WAHF. I looked for some time as I wanted a small young male dog. Dixon (we changed his name and it suits him well!) appeared – as cute as a button and I knew he was the one. However, when I applied I was I informed that he had been snapped up by foster parents. I was naturally disappointed and pleaded that should the circumstances change, could I please be considered for his adoption.
As luck would have it, my husband received an email some 6-8 weeks later to say that he had been picked up again – he was definitely meant to be ours!
The adoption went through pretty quickly and smoothly and he came from Cyprus in October 2017. When I saw him in his crate, I burst into tears – almost like I had given birth – he was way cuter and lovable than the pictures portrayed.
He did have a little separation anxiety and it took a few days for our female jack russell – Sparkle to get used to her brother but now they are partners in crime!
Adopting Rascal has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life.
Although we had always loved the idea of getting a dog, we hadn’t actually sat down and made the decision that the time was right. I’d been following the Wild At Heart Foundation social media pages for some time when suddenly one afternoon up popped Fergus! I was instantly drawn to his expressive amber eyes and his happy little face and THEN I read his story….
Fergus and his brother were rescued from the side of the road in Cyprus as tiny puppies. They’d always been together and had both been overlooked by adopters time and time again despite their friendly, loyal and loving natures. Now at 9 months old, his brother had found his forever home and was about to leave for the UK and Fergus was going to be left behind. I read his story to my fiancé out loud and we both said simultaneously ‘we have to have him!’ – we just knew he was the dog for us. You could say it was love at first sight I suppose.
We’ve had Fergus for two months now and he is coming up to a year old. He’s a bundle of energy and excitement but is the most loving and loyal little thing. I say ‘little’ – he’s actually pretty big now! We think Fergus is a black lab crossed with a large dog like a Shepherd or Husky so he needs lots of exercise. We’ve found a wonderful dog walker who takes him for a really good run around with a group of dogs on days when we’re both working – Fergus has made lots of doggy friends through these walks but his very best friend is a black lab called Billy. We love taking Fergus for long walks and have discovered beautiful parts of countryside nearby which I never even knew existed! This is definitely one of the many benefits of having a dog.
We’ve just started training classes with Fergus which have really helped us, especially as first time dog owners – luckily Fergus LOVES his food and is very eager to please so this makes training a bit easier. He’s also just learning to play Fetch! We can’t wait until we can play fetch with him in the park.
Adopting Fergus hasn’t come without its challenges but as we’re getting to know Fergus we’re learning how to deal with these. He absolutely loves affection and belly rubs, but on his terms. We’ve learnt that it’s best to let Fergus come to you, especially with different people, otherwise he can get a little anxious. Once he’s decided he trusts you though he can’t get enough belly rubs and you’ll receive lots of dog kisses in return!
Fergus is still learning good manners on the lead. He’ll be walking along nicely on the lead when suddenly he’ll spot his nemesis…. a squirrel! If I don’t spot it first then that’s me being taken for a quick dash by Fergus! I almost ended up half way up a tree once. Nice lead walking takes a lot of persistence but we can definitely notice progress and that motivates us to stick with it.
Fergus is a lot fun and has brought so much joy to our lives. There’s nothing better than coming home from a day at work to be greeted by such a loving happy dog. You can’t help but smile – he just makes us feel so loved! And of course we love him so much in return.
We’ll never forget the moment that we picked Fergus up from the service station. We told the guys that we were collecting Fergus and they smiled and replied “Ah Fergus… he’s the timid one. We’ve had to carry him everywhere!” It’s been an absolute joy to watch him grow in confidence since that evening and we get to see a little more of his wonderful personality every day. We still have a long way to go and lots more training to do but we are absolutely loving the journey.
If you’re thinking of getting a dog, I would absolutely recommend adopting from WAHF. We’ve felt so supported every step of the way. There are so many wonderful dogs out there like Fergus who would love nothing more than a forever home and humans to love them. Adopting Fergus is quite simply the best thing we’ve ever done. Thank you to the WAHF team – we will forever be grateful for everything that you’ve done for us all.
Having decided we wanted to get a dog and not found the one who pulled on our heart strings here in the UK, we started looking at the WAHF site. We considered so many of the dogs we saw photos of, but then we found Morphie. She didn’t have much of a back story, but we were told she had a heart of gold, loved people and had had no other interest shown in her so was at risk of being put down as the shelter she was living in was really overcrowded. Despite us not having a garden, Wild at Heart Foundation were happy for us to take her, to save her life.
After a two month wait we went to pick her up from a petrol station on the M25 on a hot evening in early summer. The doggie courier van pulled up and shaky, nervous looking dogs were handed over to their new owners. Then it was Morphie’s turn. She wagged and wiggled her way off the van, jumped up on Alex for cuddles and covered him in doggie kisses. And she’s been just the same ever since.
We kept Morphie’s name, though it turns out she had no idea what it was when we got her. Nor did she really know any commands but now knows her name (when she wants to!), knows sit, wait and down (sometimes!) She’s fully house trained, and has only once done a wee inside, on fireworks night. We both work full time and Morph goes to work with Alex some days, spends time with dog sitters from BorrowMyDoggy and DogBuddy other days, or chills at home – going out a couple of times a day with a dog walker. She loves the sofa and cuddles but also adores chasing squirrels in the park.
She is INCREDIBLE with children, even my 1 year old nephew who pulls on her claws, and my three year old nephew who prods her tummy and counts her spikes (nipples!) When we adopted her she was listed as a Deustche Bracke but we’re pretty sure she isn’t – though we’re not actually sure what she is, maybe pointer/hound/bull terrier combo. She’s also not 100% ok with other dogs. Generally she ignores them, or has a little sniff, but if they growl at her then she sometimes thinks that means fight so has snapped back at a few.
Other than that Morphie is the most cuddly, loving dog I’ve ever met. People cross roads and move tube carriages to say hi to her. She comes everywhere with us, happily curling up under a restaurant table, being fed goat livers at Tequila Fest or getting on the train to our see our families in the countryside. She’s brought so much happiness and light to our lives and we couldn’t imagine not having her!’
– Rosie Llewellyn
‘We had been wanting a dog for a few years but were so busy with children and jobs that it never seemed to be the right time. When the children hit 10 and 11, work chilled out a bit and we were spending more time in the countryside, suddenly time was right. We didn’t need a puppy so rescuing seemed the obvious choice, plus it was something my family had done a few times when I was growing up.
After struggling to be taken seriously by rehoming centres here in the U.K. (young children, living in a London flat, jobs etc), I found WaHF on Instagram and knew this was where our dog would come from. When I saw brothers Itchy and Scratchy (then Alec & Gagi) I couldn’t get them out of my mind, and couldn’t believe it when I spoke to them and they said they were still available (they’d been on Instagram for months) and that they would be suitable for us. The plan was to get one dog, but these two looked SO divine – and had to be re-homed together – so we went for it. Two in depth FaceTime calls later we passed the test and had a date to collect them. We were all beyond excited and at the same time incredibly nervous – what if it was a failure? Could we send them back? What sort of behaviour could we not deal with? Suddenly it was all rather serious!
Collecting day arrived and we met them – they were very friendly but incredibly nervous after their long journey from Bosnia, and they smelled just awful! They jumped in surprise at everything for the first few days – being stroked, their food bowls, the TV, laughter, crunching feet on gravel, walking in gum boots or flip flops, closing doors or cupboards, getting up off the sofa – everything made them jump. We spent the first 2 weeks saying ‘good boys’ in a calming voice whenever we even moved! They quickly settled down after a few days or so – and they really haven’t looked back. They nailed housetraining almost instantly and are getting pretty obedient – sit, heel and stay are all good (especially if there is a sausage on offer), they are brilliant on the lead but they are obsessed with squirrels so we only let them off in woods if we have time to wait for them – they stay relatively close but actually coming back is not one of their strong points…but they always do in the end (generally when they are knackered!).
Our best investment was a crate – they love it and feel safe in there – when we are not in the house they go in there or they are on the kitchen counter/table and they will also ransack the bin if no one is watching! Their manners are improving slowly! They are ridiculously kind, gentle and patient – with all of us and with each other. They are fabulous with other dogs, Scratchy likes to charge around and play with any dog, whereas Itchy is the lazier one and can’t really be bothered. He’d rather lie down…unless there is a squirrel in the vicinity. Nothing phases them now – not even bonfire night and all those fireworks raised more than a twitching ear.
I have to say, getting 2 was brilliant – I’m sure having each other can have only helped their settling in, plus they do a lot of playing together and completely exhaust themselves. We’re only 3 months in and they are still changing and growing in confidence all the time, what hasn’t changed is that we are stopped almost daily by people asking what they are and where they come from – we are a walking advert for the amazing WaHF.’
– Priscilla Giles
‘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 had been considering adopting a dog for a year or so before I came across Wild at Heart Foundation via Instagram. Why did it take so long? Well, I’m an over-thinker and despite owning my flat, working from home full time and living next to the great outdoor space of Streatham Common and Norwood Grove, it always “didn’t feel quite right”.
However, I’m a big believer in things happening at the right time and trusting your gut. I reached out to them in January 2018, filled out my adoption form and began checking the website every day hoping to find the right dog. I had a fairly clear idea of what would be a good fit for me but we couldn’t seem to find a dog and I was beginning to lose hope… I even contacted a local English Cocker Spaniel breeder as I thought perhaps the problem was that my “ideals” weren’t available in a rescue breed due to the uncertainty around size, personality, age etc. One evening, I decided to check the website one last time and BOOM, it was like fate. I frantically emailed and enquired about a little black, fluffy dog called Domino and said I thought she could be “the one”.
After what felt like forever, a very scared and tiny black puppy arrived at my front door on the evening of 26th April. I took her straight into my garden and sat down next to her on the grass but this little dog, now renamed Leni (meaning “Light” in Greek), wriggled up onto my chest and wouldn’t let go. It was like she knew that she was home.
I was right about the uncertainty though – my parents and friends all wondered what she would be like and whether she would have any “issues”. I always thought she might and had already booked private training classes with Eryn from Believe in Magic to help me understand her and settle her as best as I could. Alongside this, my approach was to “start as you mean to go on” in the sense that I would get her into a really good routine and introduce her to lots of things: friends came around to the flat, I took her to cafes, BBQs, walked her on the common with lots of other dogs, took her on the tube, bus etc. I don’t know if this is the advised approach but it worked for us and she took everything in her stride as long as I was there next to her. We were spending 24 hours a day with each other some days and still do a lot of the time! The only problem we had was car sickness and we have overcome that now, thank goodness. It turns out that no food before a drive, sitting on the front seat and patience were the tricks for us…
4 months on and this little girl is living up to her name more than I could have EVER imagined. Leni radiates happiness and kindness and is wise beyond her years. There has yet to be a friend or family member who hasn’t fallen in love with her (they genuinely like her more than they like me…) and she is trusting of absolutely everyone that she meets. So much of this is thanks to her brilliant foster family and WAHF carers who I will be forever grateful for and I hope that the rest is thanks to me.
She is my little sidekick and I couldn’t imagine life without her!’
– Kate Finch
‘Having returned from living in the US we wanted our Jack Russell to have a new friend and now we had two children, our eldest daughter Phoebe was offered the chance to have her own dog (although I was well aware that the general day to day chores like walking and feeding would come down to me while she would get the garden play and cuddles).
Our JR was a rescue dog who joined us when we were just a family of 2 – the decision to adopt was much easier then as we didn’t need to worry so much about their behaviour as there was no small children to get in the way! As we have young children (2 and 5) we wanted to adopt a puppy who maybe hadn’t had his trust in humans tested and there he was hoping for a home.
I believe Flint (as he was named then) had been abandoned along with his siblings and was at the shelter. If someone could adopt him he would then be able to move to a foster home. We fell in love with that face and the fact he looked just like my daughters favourite paw patrol character Rubble!
We contacted Wild at Heart (who I had followed for some time) and after a detailed home check we were told he would be ours!
At 4 months he was allowed to travel and my husband met the transport agents (who are amazing) to collect him and he arrived home around midnight to a very excited me and Marley (our other dog). He is a total delight and basically approaches everything with a smile on his face!! His basic sunny disposition makes me smile everyday and Marley just adores playing with him in the garden! He is wonderful with the children and regularly sleeps on their bed – a fantastic addition to our family!!’
‘I don’t know where to start really, Cosmo is such a part of the family now I can not imagine life without him.
I’ve been trying to work out how to describe him, and I think the first thing that comes to mind is his patience – even as a little pup he has always been so calm with whatever is going on, he happily comes to work with me half the week, I have an office/studio full of young people and he loves it and he stays at home with my wife when she works from home the rest of the week. He never bothers us in the morning, will always just wait until he sees what’s going on.
Cosmo is pretty smart, and definitely thrives from playing games and being on walks but will wait patiently until the opportunity for either of those things arrives! He loves a tug of war more than anything. He’s never chewed things up or been too badly behaved.
He was a really fussy eater as a pup which I found weird after always having greedy Spaniels in my family – some days he just wasn’t bothered, or would come and eat in his own sweet time – but he seems to have gone through that phase!
He learns very quickly and was well behaved off the lead in no time at all. He is incredibly inquisitive and wants to say hello to absolutely every single dog he sees – he has never been aggressive in the slightest but his confidence and cocky walk definitely seemed to rub some dogs up the wrong way…
He is very affectionate, tolerant of kids and people he doesn’t know and is just an all round little dude.
As the testosterone started to flow it was interesting seeing him venture further and further from us, and particularly looking for females – he was literally obsessed with trying to find someone to hump, his recall utterly disappeared as he had far more interesting and important things to do! He always came back but in his own sweet time. He scared us a couple of times running out the park after females and got duffed up a couple of times by neutered males so the time came to have him neutered.
Cosmo loves tearing around chasing other dogs or being chased, and absolutely loves his ball. He is pretty lucky and gets 2 decent park walks a day in the week and a bigger walk at the weekend- he’s got a good crew of dogs he sees regularly and is a happy little chap.
He stays with one of our friends who lives a couple of roads away when we are away and he adores him too, he is perfectly calm and happy to stay with people he knows and likes but always makes a fuss when he sees us again!
We feel very blessed to have him and he is my little mate, I always miss him the days he’s not with me.’
– James Payne
After spending over a year visiting local dog shelters and constantly checking their websites we found we were struggling to find the right dog for us. We started looking further afield at websites of dog charities throughout the UK and by chance found the Wild at Heart Foundation website. We were amazed at the diverse selection of dogs and within a few weeks we saw a lovely little dog called Tikka. When we read about her she sounded absolutely perfect for us.
We contacted WaHF only to be informed that Tikka had been reserved. We were quite sad when we heard this as we had both saved a picture of Tikka on our phones and couldn’t stop talking about her. Even though she had been reserved we decided to email to see if Tikka had been taken. After a few weeks of not hearing back I found a mobile number and decided to text them.
It turned out that I had used the wrong email address and we discovered the reservation on Tikka had fallen through, as we were so interested she was reserved for us; we could not believe our luck!
After completing an adoption form and having a videophone interview we were informed our application had been successful and we were going to adopt Tikka. We were beyond excited! The few weeks we waited seemed like an eternity but eventually we had a text to say when and where we should pick Tikka up.
The following week we were setting off at 4am to go and meet Tikka and bring her home and when we finally met her we could not believe how lucky we were, she was a delight.
Tikka is the most beautiful little dog, slightly naughty sometimes and always full of energy but she is so loving and she has totally captured our hearts. We have taken Tikka to dog training and she has already passed bronze and silver and has just started gold level training.
I could not imagine what life would be like without Tikka and I would thoroughly recommend WaHF to anyone wanting to adopt a dog.’
– Baz Lorenzo
Hank’s so handsome (yep, the cliché rings true – all dog owners believe theirs is the best looking, no point in debating it), people often stop to ask us what breed he is and where he’s from. Some people find it weird when we say he’s a rescue from Cyprus, not from a British animal welfare shelter or charity. Even weirder if we reveal that we picked him out on Instagram, and then he was handed to us at a motorway rest-stop carpark at midnight a few weeks later. But for us, he’s just Hank and he came to us the only way a cute, odd little peanut like him could.
I grew up with rescue labradors and have wanted my own pup for years. Luckily my husband also loves dogs (and, being Aussie, finds himself on the other side of the world to his) and after talking about it for a couple of years, we finally realised that ‘finding the right moment’ was never going to happen. So we took the plunge and after hearing about the amazing work that the Wild at Heart Foundation does, we went through their short but thorough vetting process and began to stalk all the various shelter feeds on Instagram and Facebook. So it was one Sunday morning, while doing some obligatory scrolling in bed, that I came across an adorable, sandy coloured pup who’d been abandoned with his mum, tied to a tree by the roadside. There was our boy, perfect even down to his given name which suits him beyond measure.
14 months on from picking up our quivering little peanut by the M25, he’s grown into his paws (if not his ears) and become a slightly bigger, cuter and odder peanut. We’ve had, and continue to have, our ups and downs. Rescue dogs come with a certain type of baggage (although, don’t we all). Hank has come a long way, although he’s still funny about doorways, buses and tall men, prone to digging up the garden left to his own devices for 45 seconds, has serious selective hearing if foxes, cats or squirrels are about and his non-stop scavenging instinct is a constant source of worry. This isn’t restricted to food by the way, a plastic bag is among his recently ingested items (sigh).
But! His sweet ‘chatter’, affectionate nature, beardily beautiful face and infectious energy have us completely hooked, and anyone else who meets him quickly falls under the spell too. Hank won best in class at the mixed breed category at the Marylebone dog show about a month after we got him (this was a complete accident by the way, we were walking past and they asked us to join in!), and we now know he’s a Segugio Italiano mix-breed. Even Nikki herself is a fan of this lovable rogue! He’s helped us make new friends in an area we’d already lived in for four years and having the Wild at Heart community on tap for advice and general dog-joy is great. Watching Hank grow in confidence and knowing we’ve been able to give him a good shot at life is truly the best (and worth all the rascal moments).’
– Louisa Nash
‘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!’
‘James and I had been thinking about getting a dog for a while and knew that we wanted a rescue as that’s what James had grown up with. We visited some local UK centres but no doggie there was really suitable. Then as chance would have it, one night I was reading ES magazine and I read a piece with Sophie Dahl and she talked about how she had rescued her dog with a charity called Wild at Heart Foundation, so I googled them.
It broke our hearts when we saw all the dogs on the website in need of a home and knew this could be the perfect place for us to find our doggie.
I started following their Instagram account so I could keep an eye on which dogs became available for adoption and one day spotted Yvie (then Merry). She was a gorgeous medium size collie cross and I fell in love straight away. James had had a collie a childhood pet so also had fond memories so we decided she was the one for us. I emailed the charity straight away and they sent me some forms to fill in and then we did a FaceTime call so they could see our home and make sure it was suitable and also talk us through any questions we might have. After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing, where the charity sent us some videos and photos of Yvie so we could see her mannerisms and ensure she was the right fit, six weeks later we found ourselves stood at a service station off the M1 waiting to meet Yvie.
Straight away we could tell she was a very good natured dog. I’d been advised by my cousin, who is a vet, to expect Yvie to be over friendly and very docile in the first few weeks due to her wanting to please and being unsure of a new environment. And this was exactly what she was. It was the honeymoon period so we were a bit nervous about what was to come but needless to say, we had completely lucked out and there were no big changes. She managed to be house trained in just a few days and then after a week or so we slowly started introducing her to the idea of being left alone in the flat and now she’s fully accustomed to it. The only real issue we’ve had with her is a bit of separation anxiety where she has refused to be walked by anyone other than myself or James if she is at home. When she’s away from home (James parents have looked after her for us before) she’ll happily be walked by them – but then again they do live in a beautiful area of Surrey with lots of woods, so she’d be crazy not to! She’s also not great at being left in new environments alone but this is something I’m sure she’ll grow out of in time when she gets more comfortable in her own skin.
She is just the sweetest of dogs and everyone who meets her just loves her. She loves playing with other dogs, will happily walk on and off lead and is so patient with children (I have four year old triplet nieces who love to play with her and she puts up with their constant attention!!). She is also a massive flirt and will do anything for a belly rub or a cuddle.
Our only real issue at the moment is where we live (in a flat with no garden) which in retrospect is something I would probably think harder about if I did it all again, as there is a massive commitment to getting up every day and last thing before bed to take Yvie out for a toilet break, but other than that I wouldn’t change a thing. It’s lovely to wake up in the morning and come down the stairs to find her greeting us with that always waggy tail and boundless amounts of love she gives us.’
– Sarah Wallace
“This is Teddy, formally known as Arti. A mix between a poodle and a kokoni spaniel cross from Cyprus.
We are a family who absolutely adores dogs and have always had dogs growing up. Last February our beautiful springer spaniel Dizzy who was nearly 18 years old was put down, which left our labrador Archie all on his own. It was hard to know when the right time was to get another dog but I had been trying and trying to persuade my parents to adopt our next one from Wild at Heart Foundation. Archie surprisingly didn’t seem that bothered about being on his own but I really believe that having two dogs is so important when that is what you have been used to growing up.
We contacted Wild at Heart Foundation and filled out all the forms and completed all the checks, it was a really easy process and everyone we spoke to were great. They were so amazing at organising everything and helping us find the right dog. We didn’t really have much of an idea as to what type of dog we wanted, but we knew we wanted a puppy and a cross breed.
When the day finally arrived and Teddy was handed to us from the van we were so excited, he on the other hand was pretty terrified. He was much smaller than we had expected him to be and was wearing an adorable red hooded jumper to keep him warm. The first few days were very scary for Teddy he was extremely cautious of other people and very nervous when you made any loud noises or quick movements. He did however form a very quick bond with Archie and they very quickly became the best of friends, well that’s what Teddy thought anyway.
With a bit of time and care from all of us and giving Teddy lots of cuddles and kisses he soon grew in confidence. It is amazing what a little bit of love and affection can do to a rescue dog and why we feel it is so important to adopt. Teddy is still a bit nervous around new people, especially if they are loud, but that nervousness doesn’t last long. It is amazing how different he has become in the few months that we have had him. He has such a character and follows Archie everywhere. He has got into the habit of trying to snatch Archie’s toys that he has from his mouth and thinks it is a really fun game to play but as he is so small he always loses and Archie soon gets bored and tells him off.
When Teddy is in the garden he is totally bonkers, running about everywhere and trying to chase Archie and bite his legs; quite the annoying puppy sometimes! He is very well behaved and we believe that’s because Archie is such a well-trained labrador and so Teddy is learning everything from his big brother. He is very good on the lead and when we let him off he comes back very promptly. He is totally obsessed with food which is surprising for such a small dog and has learnt that whenever we let him outside the back of the house to go for a wee he knows that when he comes back he is rewarded with a small treat. He is an intelligent little chap. He is such a funny character and we couldn’t love him more. I know that he is going to be a very important part of our household. Even though he much smaller than we thought he would be we love his little stumpy legs and his funny personality. Mum says that around 9pm every evening he goes to pick up his red hoodie that he arrived in that is normally hidden in his bed and has a mad 10 minutes throwing it around the kitchen, and then after that he falls asleep.
Thank you so much to WAHF, and everyone else that was involved in helping us find Teddy. I am so happy and proud to have adopted a dog from WAHF and we can’t imagine our lives without him.
– Fay Murray
‘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
‘We always knew we wanted a dog once we bought our first home and as I knew someone who’d adopted their lovely dog through Wild at Heart Foundation, I’d already decided where we were going to find one.
However, by the time we got the house I was around 20 weeks pregnant so was unsure whether this would be the best time to get one. Unbeknownst to me, my boyfriend had contacted WAHF to “just see” if there might be one we could consider. Next thing, there was a picture and description of the most gorgeous, smiley dog in my inbox. He’d only recently been rescued from living in a small cage and they had selected him because he appeared to be gentle and eager to please. He’d passed the test with children, but would he pass the real-life baby test?! Everyone we spoke to seemed to think not and advised us against it…but we were already in love with him just from the email, so we decided to send off the form!
Santi arrived 10 weeks before the baby was due…I’ll never forget meeting him for the first time, he actually bounced out of the van! We tried to put a seatbelt harness on him but failed because all he wanted were belly rubs! We got a lot of brilliant behavioural advice from the WAHF behaviourist and took him to obedience classes soon after, where he passed with flying colours (must be the eager to please part). One of the things we did to prepare him for baby was play crying noises whilst holding a doll. At first he looked all stressed and jumped up at the doll, which was rather worrying. After a few more plays he actually seemed to calm down. We had to set some firm boundaries, like no upstairs and no jumping up at people. It was hard to enforce these at times, when there was a little cute face looking up at you!
Once the baby arrived, Santi continued to be the gentle and loving boy we’d got to know. We were naturally a bit anxious when we brought her home from hospital, but he was just inquisitive. There wasn’t any jumping up when she cried, much to our relief! He did try and get involved with nappy changes (not a good time for a belly rub, Santi) but this was solved when we were loaned a changing table.
We‘ve now had Santi for 14 months and really couldn’t imagine life without him in our family. Even my 2 friends who are scared of dogs admit he is an exception for them! Our 1 year old daughter absolutely loves him and can often be spotted ‘chatting’ away to him. Her face lights up when she sees him and “Tanti” was the second word she said after “Dada”! Even though we have to revisit some of the training methods every now and then for his recall and lead pulling, we couldn’t have got a better dog and I’m so glad we ignored everyone’s advice!
Adopting Santi and seeing him thrive really is one of the best feelings. Whether it’s snoozy cuddles, our daughter laughing at his waggy tail or watching him run around with doggy mates, he brings us a lot of joy!
Thank you for finding us our top boy Wild at Heart Foundation!’
– Becky Garforth
‘When Daisy was carried in by my husband on the cold dark December night, emotions and excitement were high and we instantly fell in love with her. From the timid, shy puppy who hid behind the kitchen table for the first few hours, it’s hard to believe she’s the same dog with her endless energy from the over-joyous hello we are welcomed with every morning to last thing at night.
It’s true to say Daisy has changed our lives; my husband is a stone lighter with the early mornings in the park Daisy chasing her new friends, I feel fitter plus we’ve discovered the most beautiful walks in the local woods, surrounding Surrey hills, lengthy walks along beaches and hours of fetching the stick in rivers. She’s adored by all who meet her and with her unique spots she’s quite unforgettable.
We seriously can’t thank WAHF enough for their love and support, for bringing Daisy over from Cyprus and making our lives special every day feeling blessed to have her as part of our family. You are all most admirable for all your hard and continuous work you carry out for dogs across the globe.
One last thing, I would strongly recommend Pointer breeds to anyone with children; she adores our girls and is gentle and friendly not only with people but with every canine friend she meets. Just remember labs or pointers do need a lot of daily exercise.
Thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
– Sophie Kirkpatrick
I quickly messaged to see if Fergus was still available for adoption and we were thrilled to find out that he was! We passed our home check which was an extremely positive and helpful experience. WAHF spent time answering all of our questions and gave us lots of really helpful advice. They told us that his brother was flying to the UK in just three weeks time and asked if we’d be ready for Fergus by then. We really wanted them to travel together so said ‘YES!’
If you’re thinking of getting a dog, I would absolutely recommend adopting from WAHF. We’ve felt so supported every step of the way. There are so many wonderful dogs out there like Fergus who would love nothing more than a forever home and humans to love them. Adopting Fergus is quite simply the best thing we’ve ever done. Thank you to the WAHF team – we will forever be grateful for everything that you’ve done for us all.’
– Kimberly Groves
‘Earlier this year I was desperate to get a dog, my elderly Cairn Terrier was going blind and at 16 was in his twilight years. I was introduced to WAHF by a friend and they sent me details about Otto a scruffy Heinz 57 from Cyprus. A few weeks later, my daughter and I picked him up from a service station and by the time we got him home we were in love.
What can I say about Otto? Honestly, everyone who meets him falls in love with him too! He is so friendly, loving, gentle and trustworthy. I was concerned he may have food issues and separated the dogs at meal times, soon to realise there was no need. I can take away his bowl, other dogs can eat from his bowl, Otto doesn’t mind. Right from the start he was clean in the house, he has no separation anxiety, rarely barks and he loves his walks. To my surprise (and relief!) his recall is brilliant and the sight of him tearing towards me when I call him makes me so happy.
Sadly my Cairn passed away in August and I don’t know how I’d have got through it without Otto, I believe he was sent to me for a reason and I can’t thank you all at WAHF enough for bringing him into my life!’
– Nicky Moore
‘We saw Timmy on the Wild at Heart Foundation website after looking into getting a dog for 2 years and fell in love straight away. Our family and friends were worried about us adopting online as they heard of some negative experiences. We were so glad Wild at Heart Foundation proved them wrong. The adoption process was very easy, it took a bit of time getting him to the UK but it was well worth the wait.
The 2 and a half hour journey to pick him up was exciting and nerve-racking, so much so we missed the turning and added an extra 20 minutes to our journey! Our first meeting, Timmy was excited and nervous.
It didn’t take him long to settle in. He made himself at home pretty quickly. Training has been a breeze, living in flat we were worried about toilet training but we have never had any accidents.
Everyone that comes into contact with Timmy loves him. He is spoilt by all our family. We really struck lucky as he is such a loving boy who is now a big part of our family.’
– Nicole Wells
‘I have always wanted a dog and eventually through being able to work more from home I decided to explore the possibilities.
As my home is quite small I decided to get a small dog who was settled. I found a lot of the UK charities’ smaller dogs were the first to be selected, and I was never quick enough to make a decision. I then read an article in Harpers Bazaar about WAHF, so filled in their application form online.
Very quickly I was sent a photograph of Meli (Greek for Honey) who was a street dog from Cyprus and was being looked after while she had her puppies. I immediately fell in love with her brown expressive eyes.
WAHF made it so easy to adopt Meli and I had time to prepare while she was busy feeding her babies. I must add Meli arrived in the UK, neutered, fully vaccinated and micro-chipped with a passport.
Collecting Meli with my sister was a memorable day, nearly a year ago! She arrived so quiet after her long journey and didn’t eat very much. Over the next few days we had time to bond and understand each other. I found her to be so quiet and gentle and she loved being cuddled and feeling secure. Even though she was a Mummy she was also a very young dog still.
She was afraid of loud noises and anything behind her but eventually she grew in confidence and has been the most perfect dog. She is extremely intelligent and easy to train, she is loving and so gentle. She is also very sociable with dogs and children but only for a short time. I am pleased to say she now enjoys playing with toys, something I don’t think she did before. The most endearing thing about Meli is how she likes to put on her collar and lead, it’s almost like she is saying she is happy to be owned and loved.
My local vet feels a lot of rescue dogs make very good pets as they are so grateful. I get asked about Meli whenever I am out walking with her, she really is adorable, well I would say that!
Today Meli is my shadow, I feel I’m missing something when she is not around. She brings great joy to me and my family and friends and even my work colleagues and would not hesitate to recommend WAHF.
In fact my neighbour adopted a gorgeous dog from Romania a few months later through WAHF, another success story.
A huge thank you to WAHF for making the world a better place.’
– Emma Clarke
‘I have always loved dogs and for about a year before adopting Hugo I had really been feeling something missing in the day-to-day. I grew up with an amazing German/Belgian Shepherd who I absolutely adored and it felt like time to get some dog back into my life.
We looked at shelters in Sweden, but we couldn’t find a good match, so after a bit of poking around online I found Wild at Heart Foundation. We got in contact with WAHF in June 2016, had a homecheck via Skype the same month, and then just had to wait for someone to travel from Cyprus to Sweden. We had picked out this adorable little Pointer cross and we were so impatient to finally meet him! In August we heard that a woman would be traveling to Gothenburg from Cyprus and could therefore escort Hugo on her journey.
We rented a car and drove the five hours to Gothenburg to pick up Hugo. He was so tiny, nervous, and stinky. When we opened up his crate he flew out of there and immediately took the toy squirrel from us to race around the grass with. He was quiet and a bit shy for the drive back home, but was mostly so brave! He was experiencing all these new things all at once and was obviously exhausted. He took a couple days to adjust and we needed to house train him. It was pretty intense the first few weeks making sure he was able to be outside enough to avoid accidents indoors, but in hindsight it went really smoothly and he picked it up quickly.
From our perspective, adopting Hugo has not come with any ‘rescue dog specific’ traits. He was six months old when we got him and everything we have worked on seems to fall solidly into ‘puppy/young dog’ behaviour more than anything rescue-specific. He was teething for a while, needed to learn all basic commands, how to ride the bus, the train, to listen to us, not to hop up on people, not to pull the lead, how to be alone, etc. But he is a quick learner and just the sweetest dog, so even though there have been ‘agh!’ moments they melt away pretty fast.
Despite living in an apartment Hugo has been happy to adapt to our lifestyle! He gets plenty of outdoor time and exercise and is the biggest couch potato and cuddler when we are home. We really could not have asked for a better dog! We are so happy with the work WAHF does and that they got Hugo to us.’
– Morag Ramsey
‘I will try make this story short, in real life it is a whole book. Well, let’s start from the beginning!
I have a wonderful animal lover Instagram friend in the UK named Christina and one day she tagged me in a picture of a very cute dog and said something like “look at this cute dog, she must be a whippet”. I just liked the picture and replied “yes, very cute!”. At that moment this picture of this tiny skinny dog got stuck in my head.
Days passed and then I got an emergency message from my friend “You need to share this post they are in big need of help 40+ dogs needs home asap!”. Of course I shared the post and then this picture of the dog popped up in my head again. I messaged and asked WAHF if she was adopted and no, she had no home offer. Bea was not one of the 40+ dogs but she was about to be euthanised in a council pound in another part of Cyprus. And that was the start of my first mission to convince my hubby that we could have a 3rd dog.
I screen-shotted her picture on my iPad and started to work on my hubby. I started to show her picture and read her post and said how sad it was that she was going to be euthanised. He said “Yes that’s horrible, very sad.” Every evening before bed for a whole week I was showing him the picture and said “Look at her she will die soon!” After a weeks work he said yes we can foster her. YES!
It was a start. We had our home check and we had an agreement of an adoption. I told WAHF I will never let Bea go to another family. And I never will.
Now it was on. Bea was neutered in Cyprus and received all vaccines. She was cared for until her flight to Sweden was arranged and booked. Words can’t describe my feelings when I first saw this skinny, happy little dog. First my oldest dog wasn’t too nice to Bea when first meeting her. I separated them with a little fence between them for a long time before I could have them getting along in the same room without being apart.
The other challenge was to get her calm. Bea ran like crazy, she was not playing all the time, she was fearful and running for her life inside and outside. I had to be quick and catch her when she came running so she didn’t hurt herself or anyone else. It took two years for her to understand no one is chasing her. The worst experience I have had with her was after we’d had her for two weeks and my husband took her for a bike run. When they came back my husband was pleased and we thought she was too, until I got the leash and she bit my arm. It was not a fun experience but I wasn’t afraid, I saw she was afraid. The experience from the bike run for her was that she was running in a place she had never been before. She continued running but was so scared so when she came to the one she felt safe with all her fear suddenly let loose and that was on me. I asked a dog behaviourist about the situation and this is what she told me. Bea didn’t mean to hurt me, she was just afraid.
I have trained Bea for many years as I have done with my old dogs. She’s always been wonderful to my kids, never growls or shows her teeth to anyone. We are still teaching her that she doesn’t need to say hi to every single dog we see. She barks very much like a siren if she isn’t allowed to meet and say hi to passing dogs. She is very clever, kind, lovable and alert and I love her to death. I never regret bringing Bea into our home. She will now be safe and loved for the rest of her life.
I hope this story helps and that people get strength to keep training and fighting to help these poor wonderful souls who need families and love and consistent upbringing, the same all dogs need. Love. Family. Freedom.’
– Katrin Franzen
‘When my husband suggested that we might want to start thinking about another addition to our family, I was relieved to hear he meant the canine variety, rather than a 4th child. I had been following a couple of Wild at Heart Foundation dogs on Instagram for a while, so I knew exactly where to look and immediately started trawling the adopt page of the website. A friend of ours has a grey poodle-mix rescue from Greece and when I saw Teddy, I was taken aback by how similar he was to Mr Bear…. and the names – it was clearly meant to be.
When I initially contacted WAHF, I was disappointed to learn that someone had already reserved Teddy, but a few weeks later they emailed to let us know the circumstances had changed and he was available again!
The WAHF team did a FaceTime house-check, following which we received lots of helpful information and the adoption form, which was straightforward. The idea of collecting him from a van in a service station car park in the middle of the night struck us as a little strange, but we received assurances that it was perfectly normal. And then week before his arrival date, we suddenly got really nervous about having a rescue dog, so I emailed asking if they could send a recent video of him – less than 24h later, we were all crowded round our laptop oohing and aahing at how lovely he was!
And so Teddy arrived home on a particularly chilly evening in September 2017. After a long journey from Cyprus, he was cold, tired and a bit scared, but some chicken and rice and a good sleep (with no whimpering) worked wonders and by the morning he was ready to show us his true colours.
Day one involved a trip to the park where it was wonderful to see the sheer excitement emanating from him at the amount of space and grass and dogs and people and trees and balls and a river and huge muddy puddles and and and…. the happiest puppy in all of England! We kept him on the lead for a few days, because we wanted to be sure he was secure with us and knew how to get home, but within a week, we felt able to take him off the lead and his recall was better than we expected, albeit not perfect.
Ted is unbelievably gentle and calm 80% of the time, and utterly bonkers the other 20%, which almost perfectly mirrors the characteristics of our children.
Friends have commented on how lucky we’ve been to get such an easy-going dog. In the park, people admire his ability to bounce around like Tigger.
Teddy definitely has some areas for improvement, but they relate to his age and are easily fixable. Now that he is completely settled, we need to get on and sort out some training for him. Who needs Marie Kondo when you have a Ted that can single-handedly destroy the contents of wardrobes, shoes, rugs, cushions, belts, leads, soft toys, books, handbags, plastic bags and school bags?
And at home, he is loved, hugged, carried, prodded and played with non-stop and has become a big part of our family life. Our 9 year old even admits that she gets out more and watches less TV with him around. It feels to us like he’s always been here and I genuinely think we have struck gold. Thank you WAHF for changing our lives for the better!’
– Amanda Cherry
‘Our Bosnian Simon arrived just seven months ago, and the night we collected him from Cobham Service Station the man who arrived in the van with all the dogs in (we were the only people from WAHF, the others were from different charities) pulled open the door of the van at the side where all the cages were. It was obvious that he was a man of very little words – he spoke to none of us, except to say one thing. He pointed at Simon and said “this nice dog”. I think that about sums Simon up! We knew he had had one ear cut off, poor chap, and we had seen a wonderful video of him that the team had sent. He is aged somewhere between 5 and 7, I don’t think he’s ever been up any stairs before, but the most wonderful surprise was that he was completely house-trained.
He has been a total joy, he is sweet and incredibly gentle. It took us a couple of days to realise that he is very deaf, and on the wonderful WAHF behaviourist’s advice we got him properly tested with the BAER test – it turned out that he can hear virtually nothing and if he does hear something he doesn’t know where the sound is coming from. So if you shout loud enough he looks up with interest at the ceiling! Also we realised he has very poor sight, our vet says no peripheral vision – he can just see straight ahead. These things make him even more endearing and fill us with admiration that he can be so laid back and trusting when goodness knows what has happened to him.
WAHF were wonderful – the joy of knowing before he arrived that he was good with other dogs and with children was brilliant, and indeed he is – he doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his body (unless you’re a squirrel). They are so supportive, the beginning few weeks can be a bit daunting, and I do feel that a rescue dog needs time and patience to get used to the new life. Also, I was very pleased to have known that it takes at least 72 hours for the stress to leave them after their long journey over here, and it’s quite normal for them to take a bit of time.
He is a Bosnian Scent Hound (we did our research and he is a “Barak”) and he is incredibly driven by the scent of squirrels, cats, foxes etc. He literally bays when he has found one! The upshot of this is that sadly we cannot let him off the lead, because he would race after something and then not hear us or see us to come back to. This can be challenging as he is pretty chunky and can almost pull me off my feet, but the Halti Harness (not collar) changed everything, so that he pulls from his front chest not back neck. We make his life as free as possible by putting him on a very long lead and letting him “choose the route” when it’s safe to do so. Also, there are 2 large “dog-proof” meadows near us where he can be let off the lead. So – my feeling is you try and change/train the things you can and then you work with what you’ve got and can’t change.
We just adore him, and he is much loved on the Common where we walk- he would be the most wonderful role model for a puppy, so that is probably in the offing! It’s extremely rewarding to see him pottering around with his tail wagging, when he must have spent so much time on the street, hungry and lost. Of all the dogs we’ve ever had, he is the most easy-going and gentle – the Man in the Van was right! And thank you WAHF, for this gorgeous boy.’
– Elizabeth Cane
‘Having relocated from Liverpool to London, and with it my adoring and gorgeous family dog (Fosse) 10 years ago, I talked constantly of getting a dog in London. Whenever anyone asked whether I missed Liverpool and why I visited so frequently, it was always Fosse (also a rescue dog).
2017 was a big year where I decided to make some much needed lifestyle changes, leaving my job and becoming freelance, moving flats so I had a garden and the final part – getting a puppy to make my flat a home!
I always knew it would be a rescue pup, as I simply don’t understand why you would do other! Having scoured a few websites, my boss at the time and fabulous friend Caroline introduced me to WAHF and when we saw Bruce it was love at first sight!
Bruce was marked reserved when I saw him online, but I completed the adoption form explaining that Bruce was exactly what I was looking for. WAHF shortly got in touch to say his family had fallen through and did I want him still. Fate was working in my favour!
His arrival date was Saturday 9th September and I was in Vegas on holiday! My Mum and two friends offered to collect Bruce for me and settle him into my flat before my return on the Monday. Although he arrived smelling worse than anything they had ever smelt he was a hit instantly and won hearts straight away, including mine on Facetime!
He was nervous of both other dogs and people in the first weeks, but his journey is remarkable. He has the most brilliant personality and has enjoyed each and every adventure. He now lives his London life to the full frequenting pubs, restaurants, puppy daycare and travelling by train. He is infamous locally and is so handsome he always wins over many fans!
Brucey is full of energy and is relentless in his quest for mischief but absolutely adorable and I wouldn’t change him for the world (well other than better behaved!!!). I have been extremely fortunate that friends and family have welcomed him and help when I’m working in the evenings and Bruce loves nothing more than spending time with our friends or in daycare with his canine friends. It is unbelievable he has only been in our lives for 3 months, it has been a whirlwind of destruction, naughtiness but most notably unconditional love.
He is really well socialised and having the support of Dave to help with his quirks is invaluable. Thank you to the WAHF team and of course Nikki who are an inspiration with the work that they do. You are amazing and both Bruce and I are forever grateful. I couldn’t hold WAHF in higher regard – it is incredible what they do and how many lives (both canine and human) they constantly change and they are with you every step of the way.
Best tip – I played a fireworks sound effects album from early on, whilst Brucey was confident and relaxed at home, building up to playing it whilst we were out walking (yes I looked like a crazy lady!!) resulting in him being as calm as anything on firework night.
– Kia Hanly
‘I started following Rudy when he was adopted by the lovely Erica and really felt for her during her anguish at him not settling with her. When I read her heartbreaking decision to find a more suitable home for him I felt that we could offer what Erica felt was missing in a forever home for him, i.e. the company of other dogs.
I contacted her and arranged to visit Rudy. It was love at first sight! This poor little puppy who had been through goodness knows what on the streets of Cyprus and then thrust into this unknown world – I knew that with my love and the help of my two other dogs (both rescues) we could let him feel comfortable and loved.
The first three days or so were awful to say the least! What had I done? I’d put this dog through yet another upheaval which he was struggling with. He didn’t eat or drink. He cowered away from any human contact and just glared and growled at my dogs who were so gentle with him, if a little wary. I thought I had made a huge mistake and was so worried about what I was putting Rudy through, physically shaking and startled for most of the time. I spoke to the fantastic dog trainer who works with WAHF and expressed my concern for Rudy’s welfare. He encouraged me to not panic and to build on what little trust I had gained so far with lots of rewards with treats.
After about six days Rudy started to show trust in me and my other dogs. He gained confidence in trying to play with the others and slowly, day by day his love for us all became evident. This wonderful personality of a puppy was starting to come out. Rudy began following my other dogs everywhere especially Monty, the cocker spaniel (similar size). He began to join in with feeding time and play time in the garden. Obviously, having picked up traits of stealing whatever he could on the streets of Cyprus he continued to (and still does!) ‘borrow’ anything. We constantly found socks, leaves, stones that he’d retrieved and saved in his bed for later. He became a little monkey who came alive at dusk and tried to play with everything whilst whizzing around the house and garden!
It’s been just over three months now and Rudy is well and truly settled. Don’t get me wrong, he still has a long way to go. He really doesn’t like going out the front door for a walk and we haven’t even tried training him basic commands yet. It doesn’t matter though as these things will come in time. What we have now and most importantly to us is that Rudy feels settled, comfortable and loved by us all. He is very much a part of this family.
Do I regret getting him? No not at all. I still feel guilty for putting him through yet another upheaval in his young life but it has all been worth it to know that he is finally where he belongs, in his forever home. He is now a star with his own Instagram account @rudy_boy1 where I update his 1600+ followers of his progress!! Go Rudy!!’
– Mandy Henry
‘We got Rambo on the 7th of May 2015 – having spoken to WAHF, we told them we would like a small dog, young but not a puppy and they found us Rambo. He made his way from Cyprus to the UK and when we finally met him and he seemed so small and thin (which we had been prepared for, as Rambo had had to share his pen in the pound).
When we got him home he just ran, round and round with happiness and excitement to his new found freedom. It was so lovely to watch his happiness. We also had another older dog and they told us to let them meet as if on a walk, which is what we did straight away. So off we went to the fields to let them meet with no problems at all they got on straight. We kept Rambo on the lead at all times.
Rambo took to house training straight away, with only a few accidents (mainly marking his territory). As far as food was concerned he couldn’t get enough! He was always starving, but with the advice from our local vet we put him on a sensitivity diet as he wouldn’t be use to the rich foods here in England.
The first night Rambo slept in my room in his own bed, as I felt he would be unsure and scared, this worked really well with him sleeping all night. He now sleeps there every night!!!
At first Rambo didn’t know how to play with toys, hated the grass, water and the rain, but soon he learnt to love toys and to this day just plays and plays, loves grass, but still hates water and the rain.
Once Rambo gained his confidence we began to see a change. In fact he actually began to turn aggressive and would not let anyone he hadn’t first met upon his arrival into the house. He also was very aggressive to people (most often men) on walks. Then shortly after this he then became aggressive towards my children whenever he found a place he didn’t want to be moved from, such as my bed, the sofa, his bed. It became so bad at one point that even to walk past his bed would involve a 15ft wide berth in case he lashed out. He did end up biting my daughter a few times, so as you can imagine numerous people were advising me to have him put to sleep (however, their policy at WAHF is never to let this happen and that I would have to return him).
I knew I couldn’t let Rambo go, so I got a behaviourist in for help and we worked together to help Rambo through all his fears and anxieties. Slowly he regained his confidence, he learnt to trust and soon began realise that not everyone was bad and the more love he got the more he relaxed. With all of us now he is as soft as butter the sweetest boy and as more time goes on the softer he gets, it just takes time and patience.
We have just worked our lives in a way that works for him. When new people come to the house they just ignore him and he ignores them and once he gets to know them he lets them stroke and play with him. He no longer barks on walks and is happy to walk on by. We did get another rescue and I think watching how he is has helped Rambo a lot (as my previous older dog had since passed away). I would definitely not have my world without Rambo, he has taught me that love does conquer all.’
– Sarah Beaumont
‘I was contacted late one night by a friend who was trying to help WAHF to place a dog called Missy. Sadly in a matter of weeks for various reasons she had had numerous homes. It was looking like she was about to be moved again. I agreed to foster Missy on a very short term basis as I had commitments.
Missy arrived within a day late one evening. My first thought was she was larger that her photo portrayed. Anyway like a little orphan complete with her bed and a bag of toys she entered my home and she is still with me 4 months later. She has found her forever home. I would never part with her now…
We have been very lucky Missy has obviously been trained in her previous life as the little bit of training from me has been easy. She is a very bright dog and a quick learner. House training was already very good. We had to try various foods to settle her stomach. We only have two issues with her: she gets very vocal if a car passes the house while she is in the garden, and she also dislikes travelling in the car. When we go for walks along our lanes she does not like cars going past so we have to hold her very tight. She has been known to try and attack the huge rear wheels of tractors. We will persevere with both these issues and I’m sure she will overcome whatever stresses her.
I have kept remembering where she has come from and made allowances for this. Overall she is a very loving dog even though her rising time is 04:45 most mornings! At first it was hard but the routine she now has a routine where she does settle again after going out in the early morning. We have no separation issues as she gets a treat and and I leave a few lying around when I go out. She is always on the settee when we return.
I would recommend adopting from WAHF as there is always help at the end of a phone and a family on Facebook for support as we have all been in the same position.’
– Julia Johns
‘I first saw a picture of Katrina, now Marley, on Facebook and my heart melted. There was something about her that I found irresistible and I was completely intrigued.
My fiancé and I had been considering adopting a dog as we knew that we could provide a loving home and wanted to make a difference to a rescue dog’s life. We were concerned however that local rescue centres wouldn’t think that we were suitable as neither of us had previously had a dog and we both have demanding careers. Thankfully Wild at Heart Foundation saw through this and could see that we had a lot to offer Marley and would cater to her needs.
When I got the call to say that we could adopt Marley I was excited but nervous. We had no idea what Marley would be like or how she would settle in. The only thing I can compare it to is online dating, except that this online date would be moving in. WAHF sent us a video of Marley playing with the other dogs, which gave us an insight into her personality but we still didn’t know much about her. At the time our friends and family did think we were a little crazy adopting a dog online as they had heard some negative stories, but I’m so glad that WAHF proved them wrong.
We were kept updated during Marley’s flight and transport from Cyprus until we picked her up outside of a hotel at 2am. The whole experience was very surreal. Marley was unique in appearance and had been described as a Husky cross, but her passport description was Pointer and she looked more like a Jack Russell Terrier/Labrador/Whippet. Everyone that I tell the story to thinks it’s hilarious.
Through this process information was sent across by her rescuers and foster carers, and we received pictures from when she was younger. We were told a bit about her background and what training she had. We were told that she knew “come” and “no” in Greek and it wasn’t until then that it dawned on us that there would be a language barrier. That said Marley settled in and adjusted really quickly.
We’ve now had Marley nearly a year. We were pleasantly surprised with how easy everything was and she has brought nothing but happiness to our lives. We took time at the start to go to puppy training and she picked everything up straight away, including recall and walking off the lead, although we did invest a lot of time into practicing the training methods. Inevitably we had to do a bit of toilet training but this was mostly accidents when Marley got too excited. She has also been very mischievous at times, such as opening all of the presents under the Christmas tree, but it was her first Christmas after all.
We installed a camera that we can check on our phones and even talk to Marley, which we found really helpful for monitoring her behaviour and checking that she was happy at home when we were out. I would highly recommend this to anyone adopting a dog as it gave us peace of mind. We haven’t had any problems with separation anxiety at all and in fact she is usually quite tired after doggy day care or when we’ve gone running together.
Marley is the perfect companion and we couldn’t have asked for anything more. She is full of energy, loves cuddles and mostly wants to just copy whatever we are doing. We’ve tried to give her the life that she deserves – she even came on holiday to France with us. Strangers have commented that she looks happy just to be alive and has a zest for life, which is exactly what we set out to achieve, and we can only hope that others will do the same for dogs that need help.
Marley is now a part of our team and we feel so blessed every day that we get to have her in our lives. We’ve never looked back and hope in the near future that WAHF can help us give Marley a brother or sister.’
– Claire Pitcher
‘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.’
‘Sofie joined our family at the very end of October 2106 from Lesvos. I had heard of her plight on the Wild at Heart Instagram account. She had been looked after by a lovely lady in Lesvos who sadly had to find homes for her rescues at sort notice.
So I took a bit of a leap of faith and offered help for Sofie, but I heard a few days later that it was alright and someone had already reserved her.
A couple of weeks passed and I received another email asking if I was still interested in offering Sofie a home, as the first one had fallen through. So I had to break the news to my family that we were getting another dog. We already had Tess our 1 year old cockapoo. My family thought I was a little bit mad.
Sofie arrived late afternoon on a Sunday. We had her couriered here to Leeds as it was the most convenient for us. Animal couriers were brilliant and really cared for the dogs.
She was so happy to meet us and quite submissive. She and Tess were fine together thankfully. She relaxed into family life pretty well.
We had a couple toilet training issues as we don’t think that Sofie had lived in a house before. She also likes sleeping on chairs and tables…
She quickly loved her off lead walks, I knew she wouldn’t want to get lost but she did go quite far at first but would come back…eventually.
She absolutely loves her food and she will loot snacks from kitchen benches if we aren’t careful!
Finishing on a high note, Sofie is the most loving gentle dog in the world, everyone says she is amazing. I tell everybody I meet in the park about the WAHF.’
‘After years of wanting one, I’d decided this would be the year I’d finally get dog. Because it would be my first, I wanted one young enough to be responsive to training and ideally without any significant issues, because I wouldn’t have the experience to deal with them confidently. I looked at some of the London shelters but didn’t find a dog that felt like ‘mine’, and then a friend said they’d heard good things about Wild At Heart Foundation.
The descriptions of the dogs on the website were so thorough that I felt like WAHF really knew the dogs, which made me feel more confident when choosing. When I spotted Max I immediately felt like this dog would be mine. He was described as “the kindest dog in the world” and that’s proved true.
Everyone at Wild At Heart Foundation was so helpful and friendly at every step. I asked tons of questions, because I wanted to make sure Max and I were suited, and they were all answered quickly and knowledgeably. I was wary about adopting a dog I wouldn’t meet until he arrived, but lots of videos and photos of Max really helped me feel like I had an idea of who was coming.
Max was very nervous when he arrived, whining in the car all the way home from the airport. Then the second he was let out of his crate he came over to say hello and wanted to be stroked. He’s been affectionate from day one, but the change in his personality over ten weeks has been amazing to watch. In his first few days he had no idea how to react around other dogs, scuttling away if any came too near in the park. He didn’t know how to play. A thrown ball was just a discarded ball. Then every day he’d get a bit more confident, sniffing up to other dogs, then running with them. We’re really lucky to have a big park nearby and lots of lovely dog owners who were really understanding with Max around their dogs. He now loves nothing more than bounding around the park with his favourite dog friends. A ball is now something to chase until I get too tired to throw it any longer. He’s become so confident around people that the only problem we have is trying to get through the park without stopping for him to say hello to absolutely everyone!
Not everything with Max has been easy. From day one he didn’t like being left alone. For the first couple of days he couldn’t be on his own for a minute without panicking. After a couple of weeks I started to feel overwhelmed by it. I couldn’t leave the house to even take the bins out without Max and didn’t know how to help him, so I spoke to the Foundation. They put me in touch with their behaviourist, who gave me lots of helpful tips, but more than anything they all just listened. It was so reassuring just to be able to talk to them about it without feeling silly. WAHF will always be there for you if you have any worries after adopting.
We’re still working on Max’s alone time, but using their tips and taking things at Max’s pace he can now happily be on his own for nearly an hour and is improving every time. He’s grown to trust friends who dog-sit him (there’s a big queue to sit him because he’s such friendly company). All these things seemed impossible in the first week.
There were days when I was scared of the responsibility I’d taken on, but every day Max and I know each other better and every breakthrough feels wonderful. The first time he sat on command. The first time he was let off the lead in the park and came bouncing back with a ball I threw for him. The first time he responded to his own name. The first time I left him alone, stood at the end of the road with a stopwatch, then came back to find him not standing in a panic by the door but in the living room, merrily chewing a Kong (you’ll quickly get to know what a Kong is when you get a dog). It’s so rewarding to have him.
We’re still barely two months into Max’s life with me and he feels absolutely part of the family. He’s a happy face to have around and makes people smile everywhere he goes. He still has his little problems to overcome, but they’re dwarfed by the advances he’s made. I have to stop writing now because he’s come over to plop his head on my lap and let me know it’s been far too long since I last cuddled him. I’m very glad he’s here.’
– Olly Richards
“Dogs have a way of finding the people who need them, and filling an emptiness we didn’t ever know we had.”
Sadly too many beautiful dogs will never experience the joy of what it is to be loved, and black dogs in particular tend to wait longer to be adopted than their differently coloured counterparts and it is difficult to secure them the forever homes they so richly deserve (‘black dog syndrome’). The cause for this can only be guessed at, but one theory is that facial features don’t show up with as much definition due to the darker fur colour, leading people to make less of a connection with the dog based on photos alone.
Not for us though.
My beautiful black bear goes by the name of Hugo and when I saw him on the website my soul (and my parents!) saw him and kinda went, oh there you are… I’ve been looking for you all my life.
He’s entered our lives with the most gentle and loving personality and we cannot imagine life without him.
In our few short weeks of knowing him, he has already taught us some important life lessons.
1. Que Sera Sera. If events had followed their intended course Hugo would be in another home. The then called Thomas stared out at us from the adoption page, the last one of a litter of beautiful Dalmatian x puppies. 8 months old and still waiting for his forever home. We applied but sadly he had already been reserved. A few weeks passed and then we got an email that lovely Thomas’ home had fallen through. Maybe it was fate? We jumped on it and were told our beautiful boy would be with us just 2 weeks later. (Cue frantic present, toy, basket, treat buying!).
2. You don’t know who you really are when life is lived at a wild and frantic pace. Huge scared brown eyes looked at us tentatively and he hid in the corner for 2 days. Terrified by experiences in a previous life and traumatised by the journey he cowered away from any attention. With 3 prominent cigarette burns and one on his head and flinching every time you moved your hand towards him, he’d clearly lived a nightmare. It broke our hearts. He was skittish and on guard, suspicious, waiting for our other dogs to attack him. He was so terrified one day when we let him out of the crate in the morning and they went over to sniff him he jumped on top of me and had to relieve himself whilst madly quivering.
But even 2 weeks later he is learning to ‘be more dog’. He loves to chase a ball and is learning how to swim, he is overly enthusiastic meeting new people and his bright personality shines through and the reason for these new emerging’s are his environment; he now has an environment where his personal attributes are celebrated, he has love and calm and doesn’t have to worry about where to sleep or what he can eat. He’s taught us that environment and the space to be more you is so important for personal development.
3. When in doubt … HUG! Hugo’s first reaction in every situation is to give you his paw and wrap it around your leg, your waist, your neck; any event that causes him the slightest degree of confusion or fear he seeks our reassurance and needs our affection. Him and my mum are fairly inseparable, and I think it’s the special HUG he gives that makes all the difference. I catch them having a dance after dinner and a morning snuggle before anyone’s got up. It’s taught me how important it is to show affection and not to be scared to ask for it!
4. Everything should be explored through the art of eating… and by everything, I’m talking about plugs, spoons, butter pots, letters, important pieces of work, a kitchen towel, random pairs of socks, mums slippers, and the oven glove… maybe not such a life lesson after all!
5. There’s nothing like lying on your back with your feet in the air. Hugo is generally quite a bouncy curious kind of soul, but he has his more chilled out times too. After a long day walking, running into things, taking things he shouldn’t outside he is the poster boy of having down time….and by this I mean upside down time!
6. Unconditional love exists, and we should seek it. It’s like he’s been waiting for love his whole life. His unlimited loyalty and desire to shower you in joyful licks and hugs every time you enter the room (even if you’ve been gone all of 2 minutes for a loo break) without any kind of bitterness is a lesson well learnt. He had us when we first saw his baby browns.
Nearly 2 months in and with a lot of love and a lot of biscuits, a few tears, some nasty tummy bugs and a lot of large hugs later our new BFF is completely adored by our whole family- including his little monster brothers Wooster and Monty.
He spends his time mostly frolicking in the sea on Hayling Island and snitching things from the kitchen table (did I mention he is HUGE) and is fast becoming a neighbourhood favourite. (even the post lady brings daily treats).
The gentlest dog I have ever met, eager to please and quick to learn; we still have a long road ahead of us, but I’m so glad we’re going to do it together. The specialist of companions with the brave open heart of a rescue dog; able to give so much despite a tough beginning.
We’re going to spend our lives making up for it for him. Thanks WaHF for our gorgeous sunny ‘Cypriot Hugs’.’
– Hannah Glasgow
‘We’d been looking for Pinky for a while when her photo appeared on my Instagram feed. I have to be honest – I’d followed most of the dog-themed Instagram accounts partly to fulfil a ‘cuteness quota’ needed to get me through the day – I never thought we’d find our dog on there. I never thought we’d be that lucky.
But there she was – in all her scruffy, thoughtful, puppy loveliness, a black German wire haired Pointer cross who had been left at the shelter in Cyprus with her brother, Perky (now Ludo.) After a flurry of emails, she was reserved – for us.
As a family we’d been in circles discussing all the practicalities of getting a dog, but with Marc & I working long hours and 2 busy children – a couple of days later I got cold feet. I kept looking at the Instagram picture of her and seeing other people interested in Pinky. While seeing the word ‘reserved’ made me so happy, it also made me nervous that we might not be the best family for Pinky and she could go to a home where they had more time and space to devote to her. At 6am one morning I emailed to say I didn’t think we could adopt her and I cried all the way to work.
By 9am I had emailed to say I hope they hadn’t read my other email – and that we did want to adopt Pinky and proceeded to list all my worries (some, when I look back at them seem ridiculous now – we have time for Pinky, and we have bags of space, especially for someone that likes to be close to us anyway!)
WAHF came back to me with a really understanding and patient response, answering all my concerns, and we went on to arrange a home check for a few days later.
After a successful home check – we finally told the boys about our girl – I don’t think we could have made 2 people more happy than we did at that moment.
After, what seemed like an eternity, Pinky arrived in Edinburgh just before Christmas 2015, having flown to Paris, followed by a long drive to Scotland. Sometimes now, when I think about this time, I am still amazed – she was so brave, so open and adaptable to her experience. Pinky arrived in our lives like she was meant to be there, and I really think she is.
In the first few weeks we were all super excited, Pinky included – she would bound in from every walk like she hadn’t seen us for weeks – all muddy paws, and cuddles.
Housetraining took about a month, she’d pee everywhere and it took her tummy a while to settle into her Scottish diet of Haggis & Irn Bru, (aka kibble) and we lost a couple of rugs to that time, as well as some shoes as she chewed her way through the house.
During her first few weeks with us she also developed kennel cough and colitis and we discovered that being a new dog owner was very like becoming a new parent – feeling completely clueless and constantly scared by Google searches. A visit to the vet reassured us that both conditions were common, and she recovered quickly from both.
In the January we started a course of puppy classes which was brilliant for socialising with other dogs and bonding with us, and it really helped to make us more confident with her training and dog behaviour in general.
This was especially helpful as Pinky is not a shy dog and, although she’s not aggressive, if another dog shows any sort of aggression towards her, she doesn’t back down – the classes really helped me to understand what was Pinky’s vocal play wrestling and when and how to step in if I felt uncomfortable with any interaction with other dogs.
When we’re out, I’m so proud of her – Pinky is loveable, brave, loyal, sociable (with dogs and humans) and definitely has a cheeky streak – which only adds to her charm. When I think of her (and the other WAHF dogs we meet) I can’t imagine I would ever consider buying a dog from a breeder.
Pinky has definitely been a bit of a poster girl for WAHF in Edinburgh, meeting her was the inspiration for Luce, Stan & Elroy, and Amber’s owners to approach WAHF when they were looking for their dogs, and I know they’re all so glad they did.
We love this girl to the moon and back and can’t imagine life without her. She’s made our lives better in so many ways, we have to go outside (even when it’s raining – which is a lot in Scotland), we spend more time talking to each other (no phones on walks), we argue less, and we’ve met new people and been on adventures that we wouldn’t have without her.
I love that saying – ‘Be the person your dog thinks you are’ and I’m so glad I sent that 2nd email.
Thank you WAHF for getting her to us.’
– Becky Robertson
‘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
‘It was thanks to the wonderful Rosie Londoner’s blog that I discovered ‘Wild at Heart Foundation’. We had been idly talking about getting a dog for a while, but when I saw Belka’s (née Dora) profile on Instagram one day, I fell in love. I would never have pursued the fantasy, but Mo was adamant that we had to have Belka in our lives!
Our intention had always been to adopt, but the reality of actually doing so, especially from another country, was very daunting. Everyone we knew said we were mad. ‘What if she’s unmanageable?’ they argued. ‘How will you cope if she is aggressive?’, they protested. Fortunately, they are all eating their words now!
Belka arrived scruffy and travel worn in our friends’ little red car just over a year ago and, after a little groom and a lesson in walking on tiled floors, honestly we’ve never looked back. She was a delight from the very start and has been a wonderful addition to our weird little menagerie.
She is the gentlest creature imaginable. She never barks. She can learn tricks in minutes. She travels well. She’s great with cats and even the tiniest children. She can’t leave the house without being complemented and surrounded by admirers. I could go on and on…
Belka has made a big difference to our lives, but also to others’. She often spends weekends with Mo’s family in the country and has even helped his mother settle in to her new rural community, when she retired last summer. Dog walkers love to stop for a good chat! To top that off, she recently won best rescue in the local village dog show, ably handled by Mo’s niece.
We can’t thank you, the team at the Wild at Heart Foundation, enough for bringing Belka into our lives. We’d do it all again in a heartbeat.’
– Lucy Tittle and Mo Shawwa
‘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
He’s our no-so-little heartbreaker, people-pleaser, sock stealer, goofball, frisbee catcher and all round love bug. It’s been just over 6 months since Percy arrived from Bosnia and we can’t imagine life without him.
When our old terrier passed away last year we were heartbroken and couldn’t bear the quiet in the house. We knew that at some point we’d get another hound and always knew he’d be a rescue.
My sister quietly nudged me in the direction of Wild At Heart Foundation and I spent days ‘pawing’ over pictures of wonderful dogs – wanting to give a home to all of them. As Christmas was just over a month away we knew that it would be a perfect time to welcome a new dog to our home as we were going to be off work for a month.
Someone else has likened choosing a rescue as extreme online dating and that’s exactly how we describe it. Tanja in Bosnia sent us a stream of pictures and videos of Percy (nee Pax) and we were smitten but anxious at the same time. At four months old Percy was heartbreakingly gorgeous but what would he grow into? How big would he get? What would his temperament be like? Would he like us?
After a very efficient and thorough process of home checks and constant communication with WAHF the wheels were set in motion and they moved heaven and earth to get Percy to us before Christmas. Three weeks later we were waiting at Cobham services for the hand-over. As soon as we clapped eyes on our pup it was love at first sight. We all cried! He settled into his new home immediately, and even more incredibly he house-trained in 2 days and slept downstairs in his own bed without incident or crying from night one. He was (and still is) healthy and happy and loves a trip to the vets – despite his neutering! He was a little whiffy after his long overland journey from Bosnia – but this was totally expected and nothing that a warm bath couldn’t sort out.
He loves other dogs – no matter what shape or size – and has a number of doggy best friends who he greets with yelps of joy. I’m not sure whether this is because his first few months were spent surrounded by other dogs or not, but he’s sociable and respectful of other hounds. He’s a hit at the village pub which welcomes dogs of all shapes and sizes. He loves car journeys and has ventured to Wales and Cornwall and is looking forward to his Scottish holiday in the autumn.
Six months in and Percy is now almost fully grown – the small, timid creature who arrived at Christmas has become a confident, loving and life-affirming addition to our home. At some point in the next few years we will add to our pack and can’t imagine doing it any other way than through WAHF.
Percy was one of a litter of 10 pups in the shelter in Mostar and all of his siblings and his Mum have found their forever homes….if that’s not a success story then I don’t know what is.’
– Annie Rigg
‘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
‘We adopted our little Cypriot poodle-cross almost nine-months ago now, and it’s already hard to imagine what life was like pre-Chloé!
We had ummed and ahhed about getting a dog for a long time – we were very keen but knew it had to be the right fit, for us and the dog. We also knew that we didn’t want to buy a puppy from a breeder, but we had trouble finding a dog to adopt from our local animal shelter in Geneva that didn’t potentially require the extra special care it deserved, but that we just wouldn’t have the time and resources to provide.
So when we came across an article about the Wild at Heart Foundation, we knew immediately that we had found the answer. We had no real preference about breed, though because we live in an urban setting we were keen on a smaller dog that was still hardy and energetic enough to enjoy long walks by the lake and mountains in Switzerland. Only a short time later we received an email from the Foundation’s adoption team with three photos of “Cleo”, the sweetest little pup we’d ever seen. It was love at first sight!
It took four month old Chloé a little longer to warm up to us though! She was understandably timid and scared when I met her in Paris, but was such a trooper as she bravely faced the plane ride to her new home in Geneva. The most precious piece of hand luggage I’ve ever had!
For the first week she was scared to go outside, was terrified of traffic noise and being left alone and was very afraid of other dogs. Despite all this, we could already see that she was a smart, sweet-natured dog, full of affection and playfulness. Though she did ruin a rug by using it as her own personal toilet…
After some helpful advice from WaHF’s behaviourist, we did our best to train her and give her constant reassurance, and very soon she was a completely different dog. It’s been incredible watching her confidence and happiness grow each day as she’s become the most loving dog we could have ever hoped for.
Now, wild horses couldn’t keep her from playing with other dogs, she has bounds of energy and we can bring her just about anywhere with us. After a long walk of course!
She seems to love life in Geneva, especially running around in the mountains, exploring the woods and – when the sun shines – swimming in the lake. But she’s not the only one who’s benefitted from her adoption. She’s helped us to be more active, particularly during the dreary winter months and brought our stress levels way down (who could be stressed when on the receiving end of one of her “lick attacks”!). As anyone who has ever rescued a dog will tell you, it’s not just them who is saved – it’s us too.
Of course, she can be a little rascal at times, but she’s become the happiest little dog we could ever have hoped for. From sleeping on our shoes when one of us leaves the house to following us around the apartment like a little lamb, she’s an adorable creature with a heart bursting full of love.
Chloé has brought us immeasurable joy already, and we can’t thank the Wild at Heart Foundation enough for the vital work they’re doing to save these little angels.’
– Shannon Chainey
‘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
‘Lana, an adult female Akita rescued from a military camp, was on the verge of death. Her terrible physical state, and a huge tumour which was misdiagnosed for a serious form of cancer, nearly had us putting her to sleep. We took her as as foster, with the thought that she could at least have some decent last days of life…Lana however is a miracle dog. She took us all by surprise.
Not only did the suspicious tumour disappear, but she was showing us day by day that she was full of life, energy and love. Now she is 100% healthy, we have officially adopted her and we could not be happier. She is showing us her best character, which I believe is her way of thanking us for saving her and believing in her. The love and gratitude that a rescued dog can show you, is beyond words. I hope the photos will speak for themselves.’
– Angela Charalambous
‘We had always wanted a dog and finally buying our own home and moving closer to work in March 2016 meant that this might just be possible. We decided we would rather re-home a rescue dog than buy brand new as there are so many wonderful dogs looking for homes, however we knew that we would be rejected by all the rescue centres in the UK as we both work full time.
My family used to have a holiday home in Cyprus and so my sister knew of Wild at Heart and followed them on Instagram. In August last year she said she had seen the perfect pup for us and showed us a picture of a small white bundle of fluff. He was exactly what we had been looking for so we got in contact right away. Unfortunately the puppy we had seen was no longer available for adoption but they got in contact with us and said his brother was looking for a home. We were then sent the most adorable picture of a tiny black and white puppy with a pink nose. We were smitten.
The adoption process went fairly smoothly and we finally got to meet Toddy, previously Rigby, at the end of October 2016. Toddy was perfect. The first night went as well as it possibly could have and after a couple of hours of cuddles and some food he slept all night in his crate without a peep.
We had booked a couple of weeks off work to spend with Toddy and get him settled into his new home and we also booked him into puppy classes. He had a few accidents but didn’t need too much toilet training as he had already learnt the basics in his foster home. Puppy classes were good for socialisation but we stopped going after the 6 week course as we didn’t feel like Toddy was learning the skills we wanted him to learn. He was happy with ‘sit’ ‘paw’ and ‘down’ etc. What we wanted to focus on was lead walking and recall so we decided to focus on this ourselves.
In the first couple of months Toddy hated walking with a lead and harness, everything scared him and he was so distracted on each walk it would take us an hour just to get around the block. Both our backs were suffering having to walk hunched over with treats to offer him encouragement! It took a couple of months but eventually Toddy learnt to love his walks and the new smells and other dogs he meets on the way! We also found a massive improvement when we removed the harness and he much prefers the lead being attached only to his collar. It was such a proud moment when I was able to walk him around the block in my lunch break for the first time!
Recall we are still working on…but in the last couple of months we have been able to make the brave move of letting him off the lead when we go on long walks! This was a big step for us as we were so worried about him running off and getting hurt. Once we made the jump though, with our friends and their dog first of all, we have never looked back. Toddy, although excited to be able to run around where he wants, will always keep us in sight and, unless he is having too much fun with another dog (!) will come back to us when called.
We are so proud of Toddy and we are always complimented on his temperament and looks, everyone loves his pink nose! He has brought so much love, fun, happiness and laughter to our lives we can’t imagine being without him. He is kind and gentle, has learnt to be calm around our house bunnies and he was also not phased when he met our newly born niece. We have already decided we would like to rescue another dog (maybe next year..) and think Toddy would love a little play mate!’
– Christian Hollingsworth and Natalie Spicer
‘After much consideration and discussion over a period of around 6 to 8 months we had decided as a family to add another dog to our unit. We had become aware of Wild at Heart Foundation via a friend and spent some time looking online at the dogs available for adoption. Given we already had two Jack Russell Terriers aged nine and seven we wanted another dog that would benefit from their companionship and also compliment them.
Barney’s profile ticked all the boxes.
We filled out the online application and went through the process and were delighted when we were informed that we would be a suitable forever home for Barney! Barney was described as a collie cross and had been rescued from the Praca dog shelter in Bosnia by WAHF.
We finally collected Barney in mid September 2017 from kennels in Lincolnshire. We were a little apprehensive on collecting him as we had been advised that morning by the kennel staff that he was very agitated and somewhat distressed. He was so scared that he was showing signs of fear aggression. However, we were committed to this young dog and loaded him into the car in a suitable cage and brought him back home.
He was fine on the journey and just looked petrified. We had to drop a blanket over his cage to lift him from the car into the garden as he was unhappy at the prospect of being moved. When we let him out and he headed straight for a bush in the garden and stayed put for the first 30 minutes! Eventually he came out and a couple of hours later we were able to get near enough to release his harness.
We gave him plenty of space and time over the first 48 hours and he soon settled. Baby steps were then taking in terms of introducing a collar and lead and small walks. Then some recall work and basic commands as well as trying to establish some sort of routine. 10 weeks on and he is a different dog. His personality is shining through and he is becoming more confident daily.
Barney is fantastic on a lead and also great off it. He enjoys his daily walks and new adventures – albeit he is still very apprehensive of strangers (he seems to have an oddball radar!!) and unsure in the odd ‘busy’ situation he has encountered. He is a wonderful companion and has a fantastic nature. He is beautiful, gentle dog who is coming on slowly but surely and we would not be without him.
It has been fantastic seeing him happy and content and observing his personality grow. He Loves digging the odd hole or twelve in the garden and even managed to eat a Law book the other day that I left in my laptop bag – I think he is torn between being a landscape gardener and a solicitor when he grows up! Dinky our eldest Jack Russel (10 now) used to tell him off constantly at first but she has now succumbed to his charm and boyish good looks and they will happily play for long periods of time.
We think the work done by the Foundation is fantastic and would certainly recommend them to anyone thinking of adopting a dog.’
– Gavin Clarke
‘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
‘April 2016 was a month which we will always remember, for that was when Roland joined our family.
I read about the Wild at Heart Foundation on social media, so decided to make some enquiries. It soon became apparent that this charity not only had a wonderful choice of dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds, but also that it was an extremely ethical charity who put the needs of its dogs first.
I got in touch with WAHF, and told them the sort of dog we wanted. We discounted a couple of dogs, (my husband is asthmatic) but within a couple of days they suggested a small black poodle cross-breed puppy, just a few months old, who had been found as a stray & was was about to be put down until the charity stepped in to save him. I fell in love with him instantly, so that was it. Our fates were sealed. His and ours.
He was delivered to us a couple of months later, once all of his vaccinations had been done and his pet passport prepared. WAHF also had him microchipped. We will never forget picking Roland up in the carpark of an anonymous hotel somewhere on the outskirts of Cheltenham. He was instantly such a friendly boy, he jumped up to greet us, couldn’t wait to get into the car and he was ours, and we were his.
We have been very lucky with him. He settled very quickly and has always slept through the night. There was a few toilet accidents, but that’s only to be expected. He had some stomach issues when we first got him but after a few weeks/months his tummy settled down. He is an absolute joy. He’s funny, loving & crazy. He is still on the timid side with other dogs, especially those larger than him, but that isn’t really too much of an issue. They say that rescue dogs are more loving than a puppy from a breeder, and I think it must be true. Our neighbours got a labradoodle puppy a few months after we got Roland and she tells me that her dog doesn’t like cuddles! Our boy loves them, and so do we.
I can wholeheartedly recommend WAHF; they are caring, and most of all, ethical. Adopt don’t shop.’
– Lesley Hutcheson
‘This is the story of how Irmy (Irma) came to live with me in Stalmine and the journey that took her from Bosnia to a little village on the Fylde Coast.
The potted history is that my long term partner died whilst we were on holiday almost a year ago to the day. Last year was really tough and the support of my children and friends was crucial in getting me across a difficult time. The other thing that really restored normality to my life was getting my dogs, Milo and Honey, back from the kennels and getting back to a normal routine of walking and caring for my dogs. Once I had the dogs back, my children were confident to go back to their lives and jobs.
I got to thinking that my dogs were now over 10 years old and I considered that getting a younger dog to add to my mini pack would be a benefit. That’s about all the thought I gave the matter until I read an article by Lotte Brouwer (another WAHF adopter) about getting a dog from wild at heart foundation. My big dog (Milo) was bought as a puppy following a painful divorce. My kids were 15 and 16 at the time and it was one of the best decisions I ever made! They called him (and still do call him) ‘little brother’ . My other dog (a little Pom cross) came to me as a 2 year old when her owner decided that she was no longer required once a new baby came along.
So I contacted WAHF. I explained that I could offer a loving forever home to a rescue dog. They started to send me pics of Irma just before Christmas. I said immediately I would offer her a home.
On the 4th Feb in a cold and wet Tibshelf service station I took the delivery of the wee ginger ball known as Irma. Within 5 minutes, having had a small walk on the grass and downing some chicken and a drink, I wrapped her in a blanket and put on the seat heater and drove home with her keeping one eye on me the whole time. It was honestly as though she realised she was home. When we got home we went for a stroll round the lanes where I live and she was so fascinated by the sight of cows going into a milking shed that we had to wait till they all disappeared!!
The timing of Irma coming to live with me could not have been worse! Within a day of picking her up, my dad collapsed and was rushed to hospital and I had to find a home for my mum who has Alzheimer’s. I had to move in with mum whilst I sorted care for her so the dogs came too. Including the very new Irma. She took it all in her stride and it seemed as long as me, Milo and Honey were there, she knew she was okay and she settled wherever we all were. I work in the principle that if I am dealing with situations in a calm manner, the dogs take cues from that and do likewise.
Irma has been fantastic. She bonded so well with my big dog, the golden doodle and although the relationship with my Pom cross, Honey, was slower they are now great pals and as I write this they are playing tug of war over a stuffed toy chicken!
There have been absolutely no issues with Irma at all. She is housetrained and despite the recommendation of keeping them on the lead for a few weeks, she was walking off the lead within a week.
Practical stuff aside, she has brought me an enormous amount of pleasure. She actually makes me laugh out loud at her antics and we post on Facebook regularly to let people know what the ginger gremlin is up to now! She watches TV. She loves playing ball and swimming. She takes everything in her stride.
If you are a dog owner already, giving a home to a dog in need is so rewarding. If this is the first time you have owned a dog, prepare for the experience to change your life for the better.
Wild at Heart Foundation have been brilliant from the start. From the practical stuff to the supportive elements they have been with us all the way.
Irma is just around 18 months old so the way I see it, we will grow old together!! I have plans to retire in the next few years so who knows- maybe Irma and I will be posting updates from our travels around Europe!!
Go for it. There is never a ‘right time’ to take the plunge and adopt. If you have the time, compassion, energy and patience – giving a WAFH dog a good home may be the most rewarding thing you do.’
– Rhona Holland
‘My daughter begged for a dog for about five years and I finally gave in to the idea when she told me her childhood would be ruined without one! I was worried about our two cats and the commitment to a dog seemed huge. However there was part of me that wanted a dog too. I knew friends who were involved with Wild At Heart Foundation and started looking on their Instagram account because my husband Luke and I had once fallen in love with a Cypriot poodle on a country walk.
I was in France in August 2016, when I saw the adorable photograph of ‘Ava’ looking up at me with her sweet white scruffy face and black eyes. She was about two months old and too cute. She was described as a poodle cross and I knew she was the one – although I felt a little apprehensive at not being able to meet her first and asked a few questions by email.
The next morning I received a call to say Ava had been reserved to someone else and that lots of people had wanted to adopt her. I was heartbroken. However, there was a misunderstanding and by twist of fate it all worked out and Ava was due to travel to us in October last year. When I told my daughter she burst into tears of joy.
We were lucky that Ava and her mother had been fostered by an amazing lady who lives in Cyprus and so when she arrived she was pretty calm and just as adorable as she had seemed in the photograph. I had been worried that she would be traumatised leaving her mother, but she settled relatively quickly.
The first two weeks were quite hard: it was difficult to get used to her routine and all her walks and needs. She used to pee in the house quite a lot and that was difficult as our new wood floors were getting stained as was the carpet on the stairs, but that all seems in the distant past now.
Life is definitely enhanced by having Ava. We are all in love with her; she is the sweetest, calmest, most loving little dog. She is pleased to see us even if we leave the house for five minutes, so it’s always a joy to come home or wake up to see her wagging her tail.’
– Kate Morris
‘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
‘My friend has a song that she wrote about Twig. She really just shouts that ‘he’s handsome and clever and brave’ over and over again, and it’s kind of deafening, but I’m inclined to agree. He’s 100% babe, and is tackling life with full gusto despite his shaky start.
My boyfriend and I had talked about getting a dog since the day we met and I dread to think about the number of hours we wasted talking about what breed would suit us. We knew that the right thing to do would be to re-home a rescue, but everything I read and heard from friends suggested we wouldn’t pass the vetting process. We had resigned ourselves to the fact that we would need to buy one if it was ever going to happen, and I continued to be bamboozled about how on earth you choose a breed.
Luckily we stumbled across WAHF who were able to see that we were fit for the job. I saw a picture of Twiggy and it was instant adoration. His face was to die for, and he seemed to be about the right size and breed for our active lives. The weeks between being accepted and him arriving were the worst bit. You’ve picked a dog from the internet and it’s being delivered to your house, a complete unknown. Terrifying. I kept thinking we’d made a mistake and was close to backing out at times.
He arrived late on a Tuesday night and the smell of him when he arrived is something I will never forget. He was a nervous, jiggling, bundle of love, but he stank as though the world was ending. He had a couple of worrying behaviours to begin with; he wouldn’t turn his back to you and would walk backwards especially when in closed-in spaces, he wasn’t keen on leaving the house, and he was scared of other dogs.
I wonder if we have been lucky, or if most rescue dogs will thrive if the situation is right for them. I hope it’s the latter. His stench was sorted with 2 baths. A wonderfully kind Whippet friend taught him not to be scared of dogs. And with a little TLC he learnt he can walk with his back to you within a few short weeks.
I’d like to say he’s the perfect companion, but he has a penchant for eating my favourite plants so he gets points deducted for that. He’s also insanely clumsy and so extra points deducted for all the impromptu rescue missions, like making me wade into a local river to get him out after he launched himself off a way-too-high river bank for an evening swim.
He’s fearless, and kind, and it breaks my heart to think how different his life could have been if I’d given in to my nerves about rescuing a pup that we’d never met.’
– Trev & Asher
‘We had been looking to adopt another dog to keep our current dog company and came across the WAHF website. We kept an eye on the available dogs page almost daily and were in fairly regular contact with them. In Feb 2017, they suggested we have a look at Rufus who was in a foster home in Cyprus. He’d recently been found as a stray and there was no known history on him. He was good with dogs and children so that was ideal. He was a poodle cross and looked like a black scruffy mutt in the photos but we liked the look of him and decided to go ahead.
After that it all happened really quickly (due to exceptional circumstances) and within 3 days I was waiting at the motorway services for him to arrive. I was amazed when he strolled off the van wagging his tail, certainly not at all phased by his long journey. Adopting a dog when you’ve only seen pics is a gamble and we were naturally anxious beforehand but we fell in love instantly. He is such a gentle, loving and ‘chilled out’ dog and everyone who meets him loves him too.
Due to the time of day we picked him up we couldn’t introduce him to our other dog on neutral territory but thankfully all went well and they hit it off from the start. They have been inseparable ever since. Luckily he was fully housetrained and knew a few basic commands. His recall is still hit and miss but we are making progress with the help of a whistle.
The whole process of adopting Rufus was straightforward and we’d have no hesitation in recommending WAHF as there is so much support given both before and afterwards. We wouldn’t be without Rufus now and feel very lucky to have him.
– Kate Mapleston
‘She’s My Maggie.
Unless she’s being naughty then she’s definitely Margaret!
It’s been almost two years since we came into each other’s lives, we bonded over a cup of tea and pineapple juice at her wonderful foster mum’s home and then a week later she was home.
I fell In love with her on Instagram, it was her eyes, they were so deep and special. What else can I tell you about Maggie…
At first she was so shy and afraid of everything, mostly noises, plastic bags and unfortunately men. Her past must have been hard and her memories still there but with patience and love and care she has changed so much.
She has a naughty sense of humour! She gets us into trouble at times with other dogs as she lets them know who’s boss in the park and gives newbies a hard time for the first few meets but then she becomes their best friend.
Our biggest thing in common is our unconditional love for each other. I know how grateful she is for her new life and I’m so grateful for my new life with her in it. Be patient, don’t give up when the going gets tough or you think things are taking too long to change… love conquers all in the end and that’s what most of these precious dogs feel from us.
They really do come out the other side. It may only take a few months or it may take a few years but know that in the end it will all be worth it. Maggie still has her quirks but everyday she gets stronger and more confident and I’m proud to call her mine.
Nothing can compare to this process, whatever dog you choose and whatever you experience, both good times and bad, it’s meant to be – for us and for them. Maggie has taught me things as much as I have taught her things and for that I’m also grateful.
Adopt don’t shop … there is no other way. Thank you Wild at Heart Foundation for all you do for dogs like Maggie and her friends.’
– Hayley Newstead
‘My husband and I moved to Bristol at the end of last year, and one of the many reasons for making this move was so we could have a dog. We had both been brought up with dogs being part of the family and we really wanted to have that for our own. The lifestyle we had in London unfortunately meant that we were never in a position to give a dog the time or space that they would need so when we discussed about changing the pace of our life, this was a huge deciding factor!
Before we moved we took 6 months out to go travelling and it was on our travels that the decision to adopt a rescue was really made. We saw so many stray dogs when away from home; unwanted, unloved, wandering and scavenging the streets. It broke our hearts each and every day and we just wanted to save them all.
When we came back to the UK and had started to settle into our new city, we decided to look online at the process of rescuing a pup. I came across Wild at Heart Foundation through one of my many Google searches, along with other UK rescue organisations. The debate between adopting a dog from the UK or abroad came up and people asked why we didn’t want to help a dog “from home”? We would have been happy to adopt a dog from anywhere in all honesty, but WAHF just seemed to stand out to us. They understand that most importantly, dogs need a loving home but to make that happen adopters would have to work and be able to lead their lives still. Not only are they rescuing as many strays as they possibly can but they are also trying to make the world aware of the problem we have to try and reduce the stray dog population.
The moment we saw Elvis, previously Rob, on Instagram we knew we had to get in touch about him. It was a little earlier than we had originally been planning – we weren’t due to move into our house for another month or so but we thought we should at least show our interest and hopefully get the ball rolling. I emailed our application and then I instantly became like a kid at Christmas, whilst impatiently waiting for a response!
Thankfully, we were approved and the team at WAHF were fantastic at trying to organise his arrival date. We had to try and fit this around our move into the house but they were flexible and made it work, which was greatly appreciated.
Since the moment Elvis arrived, we’ve been very lucky. We were expecting to have to put a lot of work into a rescue but he is a confident little thing and hasn’t demanded much from us at all. He’s about 2 years old according to the vet but unfortunately, WAHF don’t know his history so we can only assume certain things. They found him abandoned and walking the streets of Cyprus on his own, but I think he was probably in a home once upon a time because he has picked up his routine very quickly.
I worked from home when he first joined us and he was with me everyday. I am really grateful I got this time with him to settle in but one of the slight issues we experienced from this was Elvis started to “defend” me from my Husband or my Mum. When they would come near he started to growl and would sometimes nip at them. We knew it was something we had to nip in the bud quickly as we wanted him to feel comfortable with us, friends, family, strangers when out and about and also other dogs. As silly as it sounds, the way we did this was to make a point of having a cuddle in front of him whilst reassuring him that it was OK! He didn’t like this at first and it took a little while, but it seems to have worked.
He is the most lovable dog that showers you with affection, unbelievably funny, inquisitive and very smart. He has learned to trust very quickly which we are grateful for and he has really settled in to our family. We are 5 and a half months in and we can’t imagine what our life was like without him.
Thank you Wild at Heart Foundation; the work you do on behalf of these dogs is incredible and we are truly grateful that you do what you do!’
– Casie-Georgia Marshall
‘Nacho is a real success story. My sister and I picked him up at Cobham Services late at night. He came home, ate a bowl of chicken and rice, explored the house and then got into his basket and went to sleep!
He was quite subservient to start with but has really grown in confidence. He wants to make friends with everyone and is really good with other dogs.
He had dozens of admirers where I walk him and I have recommended Wild at Heart to a number of people. My friend has now adopted a dog from Romania. I cannot imagine life without him.’
‘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
‘I stand on one side of the burn, two cows stand behind me ruminating over the fence. On the other side of the burn the vast expanse of Ashaig beach disappears off into the distance. The rain pelts by sideways, relentless and unforgiving. The warmth and comfort of the car is only a few steps away behind the curious cows.
I shout “Will you please come back!”
On the horizon where the beach meets the sea two dogs can be seen running joyously up and down the water’s edge.
“……” I mutter. The cows agree.
“Come here! I can see you. Stop ignoring me!”
Shadow and Boo are easily spotted as they are both wearing bright red jumpers. I can see them dashing to and fro, desperate to get at the seagull bobbing in the water about 200 metres offshore.
It was a year ago that the older and larger of the two dogs had arrived from Cyprus. He had left an island that was bathed in sun and basked in 20c heat to be delivered to an island that shivered in -6c frost under a watery sun that skipped briefly along the horizon.
“Is this the gratitude I get? I give you a home, a selection of couches, chairs and beds to sleep on. Three meals a day, central heating, chewy breath treats, a croft, endless walks… deer poo..!
I pause for breath and turn round to see if anyone is listening to my rant. Only the cows. They nod their agreement and encouragement.
“I even got you a friend, that other ungrateful puppy, the little one behind you trying to keep up.”
The two dogs have suddenly stopped, having come across some decomposing and crunchy sea life left behind by the tide. It is eaten with relish. I make a mental note to buy more chewy breath treats. The wind picks up, a gust blows across the beach pushing a wall of sand ahead of it. The smaller dog is enveloped by it. One side of him is black, white and hairy, the other a beige mat of sand. It seems this has ended the fun for him. He heads for home, his leggy brother grudgingly follows.
“At last,” I say as if it was my shouting that brought them back. They run for the car carefully avoiding the cows who glare at them. As the boot is opened they jump onto the custom dog mat boot liner with extra blankets and I remove their jumpers then give them treats for being such good dogs and coming back after only ten minutes of pointless shouting.
If I had been born in a pound/found abandoned as a few weeks old pup would I have left the wide and wild open space with all the boundless chasing, digging, eating and headlong charging into the distance opportunities on offer?
No, not a hope.
Shadow arrived tiny and shivering a year ago this week. From Cyprus to Skye. When we lost our spaniel Toby in June of this year Shadow missed him desperately and by the end of summer we were joined by the tiny Boo also from Cyprus. Puppies have their ups and downs. Mostly up on the sofa and down in the mud. The housetraining can be a little soul destroying (actually it only took a month with Shadow and Boo arrived pretty much pre trained – but it seemed a long time!) and most puppies go through a frustrating nibbling and chewing stage. But the joy more than overwhelms those times. To see these two rejected souls who were almost without hope of any life to have this wonderful life on the Isle of Skye brings an immeasurable pleasure.’
– Rosie Woodhouse
‘I first set eyes on Clover when I saw a picture of her on Instagram, a puppy found on the streets in Cyprus. My partner and I weren’t looking to get another dog at the time, however, we knew when the time was right we would definitely rescue from Cyprus. We both instantly fell in love with Clover and set the wheels in motion to adopt her. It was so exciting, picking her up from the airport, we couldn’t believe how tiny she was. We already have a Boxer called Max and they instantly hit it off, they are now inseparable and Max is a much calmer dog. I can’t imagine my life without her and rescuing a dog is the most rewarding thing I have ever done.’
– Sarah Grace Fulton
‘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
‘We had been looking at rescue dogs on Instagram for some time when I came across the WAHF instagram account and saw Margo (then known as Friday) staring out at me with her beautiful sad looking eyes. I was immediately drawn to her, as was my partner, and we wanted to know more about her and her background. We had to be careful with our choice of dog as we have a little boy of 4 yrs old and an older dog that is 9 yrs old. WAHF gave us as much information as possible and then put up a short video of Margo being very affectionate with the other dogs and that was it, we knew we had to bring her home to us.
Meeting Margo for the first time was quite emotional – she was smaller than I thought she would be, and she was quite thin. Straight away she leaned in for a cuddle and was so very affectionate and gentle. We could not wait to get her home, and now it feels like she has always been with us!
Even though we have only had Margo for 4 weeks she settled in with my older dog within days, and is brilliant off the lead – running off into the wooded area of our park but always keeping her eyes on us. She loves tugging on her toys and chasing balls, nipping at our toes, playing with other dogs – and cuddling up on the settee with us. Every day she is up at 6am and ready to play. She seems so happy compared to how she looked in her pound picture – and happiest of all when she is out walking and running free, through the trees and dipping into the stream that goes through our park. Margo is a joy to have and we could not be happier now that she has joined our family – our little boy adores her. We would highly recommend the experience of having a rescue dog because the love and happiness you get in return is beyond compare and so rewarding! We are so happy that we found each other.’
– Andrea and Charlene Wissett
‘Bella arrived 3.30 am into the Dorset village which is now her home. She is four months of petite charm: full of character and potential to be a wonderful dog. She and the senior cat George are now much more settled although he has made it clear he won’t play. People do ask “What is she?” but one old chap said “Say she is a Bella and see how she turns out!”
She is a collector; pond weed, slippers, apron, socks, paper, toilet roll, towel…and sometimes one of numerous toys! I am so pleased a friend gave me the WAHF website and they were so helpful. My thanks on behalf of one very happy little dog and her new owner.’
– Linda Carroll
‘I have wanted a dog for years and visited Battersea Dogs home a number of times but as I am not retired, able to spend all day at home, have never owned a dog before and have 2 cats they did not seem particularly happy to help me.
Then I found Wild at Heart Foundation. Their ethos, their love for animals and the gorgeous photos of dogs of all shapes, sizes and needs meant that I was gazing longingly at Instagram most evenings and hoping that one day a pup would come along that would suit our happy little home.
And then along came a call out for help for a dog called Robert.
What I saw was a beautiful face, massive ears and a very soulful look in his eyes and I was hooked. I message them instantly expressing my interest in Robert and was very excited to hear back straight away.
I was then contacted over Skype and we had a chat about my house and my suitability as well as the suitability of Robert for us. I was thankfully deemed as suitable and Robert was with me 2 days later! (I had to tell my husband over the phone as he was working in New York, at least he couldn’t tell me off from that distance and had time to get his head around it!)
Robert (now called Bobby) was delivered to my door and I fell in love with him instantly. I had done a lot of research about introducing dogs and cats and purchased baby gates, so the cats and Bob could see each other and get used to each other, and I borrowed a crate for Bob to sleep in a night from a friend as I read this helps with anxiety and makes them feel safe.
Bob isn’t the only one who needs to learn. He is the first dog my husband and I have ever had and we were worried that we had taken on too much wondered if we were the right house and couple for him.
Then we took him to puppy class… Bob is 7 months old and I have spent time working at home on Sit, Stay, Leave It, Come here and Watch. We took him to the classes and they said that this is also what we will be working on for the first few sessions, so to see the other parents struggle with their puppies and be able to stand their smugly whilst my handsome boy showed off his skills made us much more calm and understanding of his ways and relax about certain aspects that we need to do a lot more work on.
He has won 2 rosettes (1st and 3rd) in local Dog Shows, both for most handsome dog, he loves cuddles, he would walk forever and will also lick you into submission! He sits on his own bed on the sofa, gets liver and venison as treats, is bathed in Lavender and has a hot water bottle to cuddle up to at night… spoilt doesn’t even come close!
Bob is now a bit of a village legend and people regularly stop me to tell me how handsome he is and ask what breed, this also means I can share my knowledge and promote the Foundation and help in my little way to get more dogs like Bob new homes.
He knows his own way to the village pub and people always say hi to him before they say hi to me!
If you are ever wondering whether or not to get a dog then definitely contact the Foundation. They care passionately about their dogs and will make sure that the dog goes to the right home and is suitable. I would think hard about the type of dog you would like (personality I mean, not breed!) and what you need. There are so many dogs out there who deserve a good home and it doesn’t matter if you have never had one before, we are doing OK!
– Katy Beckford
‘Stanley arrived three months ago . I wasn’t planning on getting a second dog he just came into our lives after I fostered him for a day. I literally fell in love with him on the spot and I asked Nikki if I could have him but she said he was already taken and had to go to New York. So sobbing I let him go. 24 hours later Nikki called me back and said he had a freak out in his cage and had eaten through two water bowls and had started on his cage and Virgin Airlines was refusing to fly him . So that was it Stanley had made up his own mind.
He is a total love bug. Always wagging his tail and greeting everyone he meets with kisses and love. Lucky my other rescue dog took him under his wing from the first day he arrived. He loves to chase squirrels, running as fast as he can, snuggling in bed in the morning, eating, grinning, and loud sighing and snoring . If anyone is in doubt about getting a rescue dog .. Please feel free to come and meet Stanley. He really is a total joy. I cannot imagine my life without him.’
‘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
‘When I first saw on a Facebook post about the 40 dogs that needed saving from death row in Cyprus back in April, my only thought was to donate money. But I started looking at the photos and staring back at me was Violet, a German Shorthaired Pointer. She looked just like my GSP Barney, same colouring, same face. I fell in love. My husband’s first reaction was NO! But I left her story on my iPad and knew he would read it. The next day he asked “ so what’s involved in adopting a dog from Cyprus?” I emailed WAHF and very quickly it was all sorted.
Violet was neutered in Cyprus and then went to a foster home to wait for her flight to us. Worryingly she had to be moved to another foster as she chased cats with alarming vigour, we have three cats! She was fostered by a lovely lady called Suhair, who gave her a first taste of a real home.
Violet, who we renamed Pippa, flew to us via Paris on May 6th. Her journey was horrendous, a delayed plane, hold ups at the Channel Tunnel and a closed service area all led to her being late arriving to us by 7 hours. We slept in the car overnight at a service station on the M25. She arrived at 6am. She had an accident on the way home in the car, when we stopped to let her out for a wee she nearly pulled my arm off trying to chase a magpie. Her hunting instincts were very, very strong.
We arrived at our house at 7.30 am and introduced her to Barney who immediately accepted her. Phew! We walked them and then collapsed into bed for a couple of hours. Meeting our cats didn’t go well, they ran, she chased. The cats left home and didn’t return into the house for some while. They lived in the garage and garden, thankfully the weather was good.
Pippa, unused to a house, thought nothing of jumping on the table, stealing food, soiling the carpet etc etc. Pippa was extremely thin and her coat was in poor condition. She has many physical scars including a chunk out of her ear and broken toes. She was extremely loving from the very beginning. She wanted cuddles and reassurance all the time. She was scared of people she didn’t know and freaked out by loud noises. But our biggest issue was the cats. How would they ever live together happily? I hated that my cats lives were upside down, but I never thought of giving up. Slowly we house trained her, taught basic house rules and she became less scared of people and noise, she learnt to come back to us off lead, loved to chase a ball, gained weight and turned into a beautiful dog, but the cat issue remained.
I took some professional help from a dog behaviourist. He helped me understand Pippa’s needs and about being a pack leader. With his help we stopped the food stealing quite quickly and the cat situation improved but we had to keep them apart most of the time. Over the next few months with perseverance we kept going and now 5 months later we have finally turned the corner. Cats and Pippa living happily side by side. It proves that there is nothing that can’t be overcome with patience, love and time.
During the last five months we have had many highs and a few lows. We nearly lost Pippa when she swallowed a small toy which blocked her intestines, she had emergency surgery and had 1.8 meters of intestines removed. We realised then that we loved her totally and she was part of our family. She has given Barney our old boy a new lease of life. She has taught us so much. I can’t remember life before Pippa. I am proud to be part of the Cyprus rescue family. To anyone thinking of adopting I would say, it’s hard work, it takes time but it is so worth it.’
– Wendy Bruty
‘My partner Paul had been wanting us to have a dog for years, and after moving from a houseboat in London to a bungalow with a big garden in Dorset we started looking at adopting one. I heard about Wild at Heart through a Facebook share, so we had a look and then we saw the urgent plea for help in rescuing the 40+ dogs in Cyprus. Paul saw the pictures of Daniel and we both said that he was the one for us, so I emailed to offer Daniel a home and things moved very quickly from there.
The day he flew from Cyprus was very exciting for us, and we were updated throughout the day with photos and videos of each step of his long journey, which was really nice. He was pretty terrified when he arrived, and it took us a while to coax him into the car, and then into our house, and he was very scared of sudden noises and movements. We re-named him Ollie and he grew attached to me and Paul very quickly, but was nervous of new people, especially men. We soon discovered that he is the sweetest, most gentle dog, and all he wants to do is play and be stroked. He has unlimited amounts of energy (he can run alongside us on our mountain bikes all day and still not be tired!) and he is very, very soppy (he likes to spend his evenings with his head in my lap, licking my hands).
The only issue we have now really is that he’s too clingy, but I guess this is because he was abandoned by his previous owners. We both work from home, and he follows us around the house all day, doesn’t like not being in the same room, and really doesn’t like it when one of us isn’t there (especially if Paul isn’t around!). He whimpers when he’s anxious, and shakes when he’s really upset (strangely, heavy rain seems to set this off) but he only barks when you’re not playing properly! He absolutely loves meeting other dogs, and chasing rabbits, squirrels, cats, deer…. He’s still scared of a lot of things (the hoover, my hairdryer, caterpillars(!), the rain) but he’s grown so much in confidence, he’s a different dog now. People are always saying what a lovely dog he is (though everyone thinks he’s a she to start with!) and he has the waggiest tail and wiggliest bum I’ve ever seen on a dog! To be honest, I was never a particularly doggie person, and probably wouldn’t have thought of having a dog at all if it hadn’t been for Paul, but Ollie is a big part of our little family and I wouldn’t be without him at all. I expect we’ll get dog number 2 in time, and when we do we’ll definitely be contacting WAHF!
– Emma Scott
‘We already had three adorable rescue greyhounds (each unplanned), and had lost our little Yorkie to old age almost a year earlier. I decided I couldn’t do without my little one and after a long search came upon this lovely little face on the WAHF purely by chance. I immediately got in touch and the rest is history!
Caramel, now Dinky was no stranger, I felt I knew that little face right away. She had to be with me. The few weeks wait felt like an eternity but at about 1am on 21st July 2016 we finally met when we collected her at the end of her long journey from Cyprus. She won our hearts right away and settled in with our three large hounds really well. She has now taken total control of the pack and is loved by all!
It has been a really unexpected experience, we had never adopted from abroad and it felt a bit daunting to begin with but WAHF contacted us and took us through the adoption process step by step and it was plain sailing from there. It was so smooth and easy, they did absolutely everything from start to finish and all we had to do was wait for our new family member to arrive.
Thank you all for all your dedication and hard work, so much care is given to these poor lost souls and the effort to give them all the chance of a new life is extraordinary. We are so happy to have found you.’
– Dianne Heap
‘Harry (Harry-bear) came to live with me in Guernsey, Channel islands on 29th March 2016 from Cyprus. I was nervous at adopting a dog I’d never had the chance to meet. The first time I saw him he dropped to the floor clearly scared in his new surroundings. I scooped him up and carried him to the car. I knew at this moment he was good to the last bone in his body and I’d done the right thing. As scared as he was he just snuggled into me, not a growl or any fear aggression whatsoever nor did he try to fight his way free. Through the airport was the same I had to carry him every inch of the way, it was a great arm workout!!
When we first got home he wouldn’t move from one room. He seemed unsure what to do in the house and preferred to be outside but after 3-4 days he came out of his shell and he knew it was his home. Aside from the initial fear he has been a gem. Everyone comments how lucky I am and what a sweet dog he is. He has converted some non dog lovers, persuaded others to rescue and more importantly has become a tight member of the family. I rarely go anywhere without him when I’m not working.
He’s only had one accident in the house since I got him and hasn’t destroyed a thing. He’s a very quiet dog aside from when I pick up that lead and he does the funniest warble howl. Always makes me grin! But my favourite thing is, without training, he’s picked up the word ‘Cuddles’ so if I say it he comes bounding over and leaps into my arms for some snuggles. He also watches me as I sleep which although slightly creepy is also seriously cute!
He is just a fantastic dog and I’m so happy he came into my life. From Cyprus to running on the Guernsey beaches with his two (well three with me) best friends, Monty and Bertie!!
To many many years of happiness to come!
– Daisy Hollingworth
‘When I first saw the Instagram post about 40+ dogs on a death row in Cyprus I immediately started to think how to help…It was clear that those dogs needed to get out of there asap so I contacted WAHF and asked them about Spot, a Pointer cross that looked like a smaller version of our English Pointer Monty.
Spot was already reserved for someone else which then fell through and they asked me if I was still interested in taking him…
I was really worried about how things would go after Spot arrives as he never lived in a house before and our lovely but spoilt Monty never lived with another dog!
When we picked Spot up he was (understandably) very scared, tail between legs and any sudden noise or movement made things worse. Amazingly, his tail started to wag as soon as we got home and he met Monty. Monty, our gentle giant, did wonders for Spot. He made him feel safe and basically did all the hard work for us as Spot just followed his lead.
Like many other dogs from Cyprus Spot was, and still sometimes is, scared of men. That meant that he got attached to me so much that any time I had to leave him at home (with Monty) the separation anxiety kicked in. He destroyed books, cushions and then eventually the whole sofa! This should by no means put anyone off getting a shelter dog – it’s just a warning that house rules and discipline come before affection – something I ignored. I showered Spot with too much affection and then had to deal with the consequences. It took some time but he now understands that we always come back home so he doesn’t panic when we leave.
Spot has been with us for over a year now and we never looked back. It was amazing to see him getting more confident day by day, his coat is now beautiful and shiny and he loves nothing more than running in the fields and having his belly stroked. We originally took Spot as a foster but of course we never allowed WAHF to advertise him to be adopted by someone else. We knew straight away that this would be his forever home. Adopting him was one of the best decisions we ever made and when the time is right we will be contacting them again.
A big thank you to the Wild at Heart Foundation team and of course to all the people back in Cyprus who looked after Spot (and many others). You are all amazing!!’
– Marta Cermakova
‘On the 21st of April Mabel (formerly Julie) came to live with us in her new forever home. She very quickly settled in making herself comfortable in my bed where she has slept ever since. So many people from my local park were waiting to meet her, she was something of a celebrity. She has made many friends both human and doggy, and even my two cats like having her around!
Tallulah, my staffie, was enjoying having a little sister when sadly and unexpectedly she passed away. Mabel helped me cope during this time with her cuddles and craziness. Everyone commented on how it was meant to be that Mabel came to me at this sad time.
Then, on the 18th of June, her sister Ethel (formerly Minnie) also came to join our crazy house. Straight away Mabel recognised her sister and within no time at all they started playing and haven’t stopped yet! The two terror twins as I call them do everything together and are loving a life of playtime, cuddles, and meeting their friends in the park every day. They really are a joy to be around. Everyone comments on how well behaved and loving they are. I’m so lucky to have them in my life and I want to thank everyone at Wild at Heart Foundation for allowing me to adopt my girls.’
– Keely Groom
‘We adopted Sam in October 2016. 2 years previously our beloved first dog Reggie sadly passed away. I had been searching for rescue dogs and came across Wild at Heart Foundation online. I liked their page on Facebook and one day Sam’s picture popped up on my timeline and his beautiful face with his big brown puppy dog eyes got my attention. I sent his picture to my husband, Henry and he replied yes!
The adoption process was quick, well organised and very easy. The professionalism throughout the process reassured my husbands anxiety of the unknown. WAHF regularly sent us pictures and updates of Sam, we could not wait to meet him.
Henry collected Sam in the middle of the night, I sat up waiting nervously not having a clue what Sam was going to be like when he arrived. Henry walked in carrying this adorable quivering puppy who just wanted to be cuddled. Any fears of him being unhealthy soon evaporated seeing his beautiful coat and healthy body. It took Sam a few days to stop quivering and to gain confidence around the house, after that it was like he had always been a member of our family. He settled amazingly quickly but even to this day he is my shadow, he follows me around the house and does not like being left in a room on his own.
Sam (a pointer/lab cross) is the most loyal, affectionate and sociable dog. Sam’s brother (Dexter) was also adopted and arrived at the same time. We kept in touch with the couple that adopted Dexter and the brothers have been reunited and enjoyed a lovely walk/play together. We love the lifestyle Sam has given us as a family, he has inspired us to go for long walks every day and taken us places we haven’t been before. He is absolutely wonderful with our 3 young children and is equally well loved by them! They love nothing more than running along the beach together and chasing birds!
Before Sam arrived we discussed that a ‘No dog on the sofa rule was a must’ but that soon when out of the window when we discovered he will only settle in the evening on the sofa cuddled up to us!! One challenge we are still trying to overcome is Sam’s digging obsession. He thinks of himself as a keen gardener and loves a good dig! This is the only issue we have and one which I know we will overcome.
I have shared our adoption process with all my friends and family and one of my friends has since adopted a gorgeous dog called Gunner from Cyprus through WAHF.
Thank you so much WAHF! They have been so lovely and the whole WAHF community is so supportive. We could not imagine life without Sam now!’
– Louise Mills
‘We sadly said goodbye to our Jack Russell, Pipsqueak last summer after 16 happy years. We decided that having had two puppies from breeders we wanted to give a rescue dog a home. We looked in the UK for a female family pet but only found male dogs who were either very big or not suitable in homes with men or children. We had almost given up and go down the breeder route again but then we saw an article in the Times written by a journalist who had adopted a Cyprus dog so we decided to investigate. We were offered Eleanora (we call her Nora) and all fell for her hook, line and sinker. We didn’t even ask to see any other dogs, she was just what we were waiting for. A month later, in early December, we picked her up at a service station off the M25 and we haven’t looked back since.
Understandably Nora was nervous when we first got her and barked at anyone who came to our house, but that passed as her confidence grew. Initially we didn’t let her off the lead in the park as we felt she didn’t know us well enough to trust that she would come back. However we went to North Devon for New Year and we took Nora to one of the beautiful beaches with friends and their dogs and decided this would be a good place to try and we thought Nora would follow the other dogs. It was a complete joy to watch her run round with a huge smile on her face. She is very good at recall and often checks to see where we are.
We went to dog training classes in January which were great, but Nora did bark most of the time! Now Nora only barks when she meets dogs on the lead but the minute she is off the lead she is so friendly with other dogs and loves nothing more than to run around with them. Nora was very easy to train (sit, lie down, stand, bed, heel) and loves the attention. We are currently working on ‘drop it’ as she picks things up in her mouth ALL the time, but she is getting the hang of this latest trick. Much more obedient than our two previous Jack Russells!
Apparently Nora was found as a puppy and fostered by one of the volunteers at the rescue centre in Cyprus until she was 7 months. Then she went back to the rescue centre and we heard about her the following day so we believe she only spent one month in the centre. Whoever looked after her did a good job with the house training as she only had 4 accidents in the first month and nothing since. New carpets still looking good!!
We introduced Nora to children last weekend when our nieces and nephews came over (aged 13,11 and twins aged 8). She was very relaxed with them but they are really fantastic children so we haven’t tested her with toddlers or nervous little ones yet.
Nora comes nearly everywhere with us and is very adaptable. When we stay overnight, she happily sleeps in her crate. We are taking her to France this summer for our holiday – in fact we chose the holiday because we could bring Nora along! We found a local dog sitter who also has a rescue dog from Cyprus and Nora loves going to Kim’s when we have times that we have to leave her for longer than four hours.
Bad points: Nora loves to roll in poo, so we have to keep an eye on her in certain parks where foxes have been doing their business. According to our vet this habit is one we won’t be able to break; it’s like the best perfume in the world for dogs! Initially we said it was good that we were confident dog owners as it is different adopting a dog with a tricky start in life compared to getting a puppy from a breeder, but now she is settled and relaxed. Honestly we are delighted that Nora has joined our family and we love her to bits. She is the centre of all the attention and friends come to visit her not us these days. We sometimes look at her and imagine what it would be like for her running round as a stray in Cyprus and it is heart-breaking to think that could have been her life. Best thing we ever did was making contact with Wild at Heart Foundation. Thank you for all the hard work.’
– Jane Fletcher
‘I kept going back to the WAHF website, as I was somehow sure that WAHF was going to have the little dog I was looking for…. I knew I was on to a good place anyway as a friend had recently adopted a beautiful little dog from them (from Cyprus). It was going to be my first dog and I’m nearly 60!
Still working full-time, I had a very specific list of requirements and wrote to WAHF apologising and told them to send me packing with a flea in my ear if they thought I was being unreasonable. To me it was a case of being responsible about the sort of little dog I knew I could manage – small, calm, good with cats, good with baby grandson, able to be left on her own for part of the day, not a barker, and so on. And one that would accept a very untried ‘hooman’! But, instead of a flea in the ear, they said ‘give us a few days and we’ll find one for you!’ Three days later, they came back with the suggestion of the most adorable little bundle of fluff in Bosnia! Described as a little dog with a huge heart and that they could not understand why she’d been abandoned, as she was no trouble at all and loved everyone and all the other dogs.
I showed photos of her to my two grown up children separately and they both said ‘oh! She looks like a teddy bear’! So with a feeling like…I was getting married…or announcing a pregnancy…!!… I emailed and said ….’YES, PLEASE’!! And promptly burst into tears!
A few weeks later, on Feb 11th this year, I went up to Cobham Services with my son driving, to be delivered of this beautiful little dog, who I decided to call Tink. Even the others waiting for theirs, cried ‘Ohhh! She’s gorgeous’ when they saw her! She was shaking like a leaf, but I sat her on my lap, strapped into the car, in a chenille blanket and held her tight and spoke to her gently and reassuringly. She stopped shaking after about ten minutes and started licking my face! So completely sweet ….even if a little smelly!! Who’d blame her after two days on the road and two days in kennels, and also on heat, bless her!
Tink is gentle and loving towards my baby grandson. She’s just keen to lick him…he’s not so keen! But they’re learning fetch together and they see each other regularly and I think it’s wonderful for my baby grandson too. I took time to introduce her to my two cats and now her favourite buddy is our boy cat, Tipsy – the older one is more cautious! They sleep in different rooms but we’re at the stage of leaving the door open between all the time now, and the cats can come and go through the flap. Tink slept downstairs from her first night, without a whimper or cry…although she escaped the canvas crate I tried her in, and was looking very pleased with herself on the sofa next morning – that’s it then! She did mess on the floor for a few weeks, but now holds on until we go for walks…four times a day…good for me too! I spoke to the WAHF dog behaviourist, about a few things I wasn’t sure of and he was very good and reassuring and suggested tips.
Tink has been spayed now and has recovered very well, although a little heart-breaking for me the first day or two as she was so confused. She’s lost a lot of her baby fluff and is now neatly clipped for summer, but still has her wonderful fluffy tail and floppy ears and curls behind them. She comes to the office with me and my doggy colleague reckons she’s the sweetest natured dog she’s ever met!! She’s quite convinced she could be a film star too!
I am absolutely thrilled with Tink – she’s the most wonderful little companion. Huge thank you to all at WAHF – as mentioned by others, you certainly know your dogs and are fantastic at matching! Wonderful work you do everywhere!’
– Tahira Martin
‘I returned to the UK last year after living in the US for a while & immediately started thinking of getting a dog. We looked at a couple of shelters but as I live in an apartment they were not keen to let me adopt one as they regarded a garden as essential.
Fortunately, a friend of my son’s (he was also looking to get a pooch), suggested WAHF so we had a look at the site & registered an interest. Very soon they were in touch suggesting a couple of wee Beagle mix pups named Elroy & Stan with pictures included. Well, one look at the pics & there was no question, they were ridiculously cute.
Fortunately WAHF were a bit more flexible in their requirements while obviously having as much concern as the shelters that the dogs would get good homes & the process was handled very smoothly including a Skype home visit & chat with my son & I. Next thing we knew we had a date to pick them up from Edinburgh airport & much anticipation ensued.
They arrived quite late & after great help & communication from the helper at the airport we got them back to my sons house at around 11pm & proceeded to just sit & watch them play on the grass for about 2 hours – we had a feeling this may have been their first experience of grass. What a joy it was to see.
This is no tale of trials & tribulations as I’m happy, almost embarrassed to say they have been wonderful from day one. They spent their first night together & then I took Elroy home with me & we have been virtually inseparable since with lots of visits to see his brother. They are both good on the lead (when not together), great in the car, friendly almost to a fault with other dogs & children & so far little contact with cats. They’re not at all fussy eaters & generally good at recall although with a slight tendency to wander off. Luckily I have all the time in the world & my day is pretty much built around taking him to the park or woods.
I am so delighted that WAHF looked past the somewhat closed attitude of the shelters who turned me down & allowed me to give Elroy a home – he says “woof” to that.’
– Dennis Lacey
‘Two months after I lost my beautiful Lhasa Apso, I was still in the doldrums – life was too quiet, but taking on another pet was quite a commitment for someone coasting into retirement. I had visited the local animal shelter and discovered I was a highly suitable candidate- no children, big garden and time to share with a new friend. I was shown pictures of 14 dogs that might be suitable candidates, but as we delved deeper into their background each had issues, ranging from neglect to various anxieties. When I explained I could offer a loving home, but was concerned I might not cope with the special needs they required, I was told that ‘normal’ dogs were re-homed almost instantly, and to look back later. It was heartbreaking to leave, but I was convinced I would know the dog I wanted when I saw it.
14th November was an important date, but I hadn’t realised it at the time. Picking up a copy of The Times, there was an article by Kate Morris entitled ‘How a rescue dog saved our family’, describing how they got their rescue dog, and introducing the Wild At Heart Foundation, which I had not heard of previously. The more I thought about it, and looking at their ‘Adopt-a-Dog’ pages, and the ‘Reserved’ flags appearing on many candidates I felt I could offer at least one a happy home.
I was taken with one who looked quite enchanting, so I filled out the forms and emailed WAHF. I didn’t have to wait long before they responded and explained the process. My selected dog was a chihuahua cross, aged seven who was currently in a rescue centre on the Greek island of Lesvos. The next trip to Greece was not scheduled until early February so it was with much angst (on my part) I spent a very quiet Christmas, and I filled in the time by emailing Vassilia, who was currently looking after Coco (and her companion Maisy) after both dogs had been given up by their original owners on the island.
Coco’s handover was arranged by courier Richard, who met us next to the Euston Lost Property office at Platform 16. With all the noise it was little wonder poor Coco was bewildered, but soon we were on to the platform for the 1657 Virgin West Coast service to Glasgow which was ready to depart.
Snuggling into her seat (on Yvonne’s lap) the miles sped by, crossing the border into Scotland we arrived in Glasgow just over four hours later, and a short taxi ride home. Coco’s 2,500 mile journey from Greece was at an end.
I had already prepared Coco’s bed in a quiet corner of the lounge, and her food and water bowls were filled and ready in the kitchen. After a quick sniff round the house, it was time to head for bed, but she was having none of it. Ears were scratched, tummy tickled and a goodnight cuddle were all very well but she was in no mood to be left on her own, as the whines were getting louder the longer she was left. Her bed was moved upstairs to a corner in the bedroom, where she settled down immediately and promptly fell asleep.
I was greeted in the morning with a wagging tail and an earnest look that I took to mean she wanted out in the garden. This was accomplished, and she returned to clear her food bowl in one sitting. There were no ill effects following her extended journey, although it took 2 days before she would venture anywhere on a lead, no doubt feeling she’d be off again to somewhere new if she left the house. She also made sure that if I couldn’t be seen, she would find out, then sit somewhere she could make sure she wasn’t going to be abandoned.
One week on, and she has completely adjusted to life in Scotland, not too keen at going out when the rain is heaving down, and barks at the postman for having the temerity to put anything through our letterbox. We’re firm friends, and her demeanour is one of ‘we’re a team’ and as such she is included in all the things I do, wherever possible. It took a lot of people to get this wonderful dog to me, and for that I’ll be eternally grateful, so to the whole team at Wild at Heart Foundation, Vassilia at the Lesvos Rescue Centre, not forgetting Natalie, Julia, Martin and Richard at AnimalCouriers of Plaistow, thank you all – and Coco sends a big HighFive also!’
– Raymond Okonski
‘We had thought about getting a dog for many years and came across Wild At Heart Foundation and their page on Instagram and through mutual contacts. We initially enquired about a puppy but in having a discussion with their wonderful team, they suggested an older dog would be more suitable for us and sent us details of ‘Annabel’. Making a decision to get a dog on the basis of a picture was not something I ever expected to do, but my instincts told me it was right.
We drove off in the middle of the night to meet the amazing couriers at a petrol station – we were somewhat daunted by meeting two men in a white van and then they brought out the most beautiful ball of white fluff and passed her to me – it was love at first sight for both of us!
Bea settled with us very quickly making herself at home, and despite the advice to not take her out for a few days we went out the next day and it was clear that she loved being out in the countryside, although I’m sure wet and cold Devon is a bit of a change from warm Cyprus.
We have been very lucky in that Bea was clearly trained in her former life as she required no house training and took to walking on a lead and being let off very quickly. She is a very bright girl who knows exactly what to do to get her own way (and she usually does as she’s so pretty!) and she has developed from being absolutely desperate for any bit of food when she first arrived to being much calmer knowing there is another meal on its way. She never likes being left alone, but I’m not sure many dogs do, but we’ve had little destruction or complaints from the neighbours.
Having Bea has changed our lives more than we ever thought it would, I cannot imagine the house without her in it now and our lives have become more active and less selfish as we have ‘someone’ else to consider.
I would wholeheartedly recommend adopting from WAHF, the advice we received from them meant that we now have the perfect dog for us. I have also found the Facebook group incredibly supportive.’
– Margaret Campbell
‘So we’ve had Marley for three months now and he has been perfect ever since the day we got him. He jumped out of the van with his tail wagging and soon became our beautiful fur baby. Someone in the world has missed out on the most lovely dog. We had no trouble house training him, he had just one accident on his first day and from then on started whining at the back door when he needs a wee.
He wasn’t massively bothered by food when he first arrived but did have an upset stomach for the first few weeks, but now he is the typical Labrador and is absolutely obsessed with food which made training basic commands easy. He loves human companionship and is very eager to please, he never turns down a fuss. If I am giving him a fuss then return to doing something, he’ll move along to my partner and nudge him for a fuss!
We had our first weekend without him at the start of this month when we had a weekend away so my brother looked after him for the weekend and took him to a house-warming party which Marley apparently LOVED as there were so many people to greet and fuss him as he loves absolutely anyone he meets.
When he first arrived from Bosnia he had hairless patches on his elbows and under his neck. We assume that on the elbows it was due to sleeping on a hard floor and we wonder if perhaps the patches on his neck were from either a too tight collar, someone tying him up or being dragged around using his collar, but it makes me happy to see that these are now re-growing. Obviously we don’t know where he came from but we have a suspicion that at some point a man has not been very nice to him as when my partner tells him off (more telling him no in a firm voice than anything), he cowers right down to the ground which breaks our heart to see, but thankfully he does not do this with me. How anyone could be nasty to him is beyond me. He is happy all the time, super friendly, quick to house train, never had any destructive tendencies, not food aggressive etc etc. The ONLY negative thing we could say about him is he does enjoy mouthing when he is excited but we are trying to discourage this.
He is definitely the light of my life and a pampered pooch. I can’t imagine life without him now and him not trying to squeeze through the front door to greet me as soon as I get back from work. He’s a 1 in a million dog and I don’t know what I would do without him. It does make me sad to think he is missing out on having a little dog buddy in the house for him to play with, as he absolutely loves it when he gets to play with the family dogs in the garden. I will convince my partner to get another fur baby one day!’
– Amber-Louise Marks
‘This is Douglas. I fostered him in February 2017 for initially 2 weeks. I didn’t know what to expect as I had never fostered or adopted a dog from abroad, but I went in excited to make a difference! When the day came to collect Douglas I was over the moon! We raced to meet him and we were greeted with the timid and shy little boy. He was tiny and had clearly been badly abused. He was screed of most people and petrified of almost every sudden moment or noise. Right then I knew he was special.
At first he wouldn’t eat food unless it was hand fed to him and would sleep for the majority of the day as well as at night. He was a shell of a dog, clearly from his troubled past.
However, from day one he latched on to me and slowly we built a close friendship. We were inseparable. He learnt to trust me, and soon began to also trust the other humans around me. He was starting to become himself again and it was wonderful to see this hurt little boy turn into a fun loving terrier.
Sadly, due to Douglas not being suitable to his new owners, he was left homeless again. It was then I decided he was destined to be with me and I adopted him! And now I can’t imagine life without my best friend.
It took time, love (and a lot of treats) but I am now pleased to introduce a happy, crazy, playful little terrier whole loves chewing sticks, doing tricks and chasing squirrels!!! He is a different dog and I am so grateful to WAHF for helping me change a life. Without them Douglas would still be scared and possibly alone. Their work is immeasurable. Douglas really is a success story! He was clearly very damaged and alone only a few months ago. Now he has his forever home with a brother he loves, countryside walks and unlimited cuddles for the rest of his life! I can’t wait to hear other amazing stories like Dougie’s!’
– Alex Clarke
‘We had been thinking about getting another dog, as we thought it would be great for our border terrier, Barney. I learned about the Wild at Heart Foundation via Instagram and had a look at their website, as well as rehoming dogs, I also really liked their education and neutering plan which is gathering pace around the world.
I spotted Sandy (was Scarlet), a one year old terrier cross in Cyprus, with the prettiest face you have ever seen (OK, I am biased). I thought that she would have been re-homed already, but contacted the WaHF office, to learn some more of Sandy’s situation and found out that she was still available. So we started the process and it didn’t take long before we had a date for Sandy’s arrival at Gatwick Airport.
It was a beautiful sunny evening, on Sunday 8 May 2016, we were both very nervous and we waited a long time at the collection area for Sandy to come through customs. Having been in her crate for around 8 hours, with a long journey from Cyprus, she was extremely scared, she didn’t want to come out of the crate. When we managed to get her out and over to a grassy area, she would have run away, had we not had a slip lead with us (as recommended by WaHF), I’m not sure I have ever experienced such a scared dog before, it was heartbreaking to see her shaking in fear of everything and everyone and our nerves were soon forgotten. Our main concern was Sandy and helping her settle.
Everything scared her, noise of any kind, people of any kind, sudden movement, traffic, even my husband! As time went on she started to settle in our home, she found her ‘safe’ spots which she would retreat to whenever she was scared, we transitioned her over to a raw diet and watched her fill out, she learnt to sleep at night in her crate and happily go in it. We all got into a new routine. Sandy is a clever girl and quickly picked up ‘sit’, ‘lie down’, ‘drop it’ and ‘wait’, and around the house, she started to become more confident. After about 3 months she started to initiate play with Barney, who up to this point had just let Sandy find her place and feel more settled. It was, and still is, a real joy to see them play together, this is exactly what we had hoped for when we decided to get another dog.
Being a rescue dog, we had totally expected that Sandy would be nervous and she still is terribly anxious around any new people, or traffic and noise but, strangely, not bothered by fireworks at all! It has taken a lot of trial and error having tried lots of things to help Sandy, we sought advice and searched the internet to help with her nervousness and anxiety. The ones that we still use, and I believe have really helped Sandy, are the Dorwest herbal treatments, thundershirt, calming music, and of course, time. Time for Sandy to start to feel safe, to start to trust us and to feel loved.
Around October, our dog walker started the process of gaining Sandy’s trust, and in January of this year, I took her on her first walk from our house, rather than driving to a local park, since then we have watched her confidence grow and grow. Sandy now goes out for walks with our dog walker without me being there and this makes me realise that for Sandy it will take consistency and time to trust people, so unfortunately when people come to stay for a few days, they don’t really see our funny girl’s real personality, but we know that Sandy can learn to trust new people. We had our first weekend away in March without the dogs, they stayed with the dog walker. Sandy’s recall is great, unless there are squirrels or rabbits about, but she does return to us eventually! She now goes up to my husband and takes treats without backing away immediately and she is becoming more confident around other dogs, these are all huge steps for Sandy.
Her lead walking is improving all the time, now she will walk past people, or sit and wait for them to pass. She is still nervous of prams, trolley cases, buses and small children however we will continue to work with her on this.
Did I ever think we had made a big mistake? Did I ever think we had taken on too much and we couldn’t help Sandy? Did I ever think that we should return Sandy to WaHF? The answer is yes, I did, on several occasions, but I knew we couldn’t give up on her.
Just because she wasn’t the ‘perfect’ dog.
I believe that returning her to WaHF to find another family would set her back tremendously, I couldn’t do that to Sandy (the thought of it makes me upset) and I was convinced that, over time, Sandy would get there, we would all get there, together.
So when Sandy first came and snuggled next to me, voluntarily, my heart melted, when she first ran up to me with her tail wagging so happy to see me, my heart melted, when Sandy and Barney decided they wanted to sleep in the same crate together, my heart melted. Seeing Sandy dozing next to my husband on the sofa and when she jumps up in the morning and literally hugs me, my heart melts, every time.
A rescue dog might not be the easy option to owning a dog (and it really isn’t sometimes), and saving one dog will not change the world, but for that one dog, the world will change forever (not my quote, but so apt).
She loves her tummy being rubbed, she will paw you to make sure you give her some attention, she loves being outdoors; mountain biking, or chasing squirrels; she has learnt to play and chews toys to pieces (haha); she loves human food, especially chocolate! They say that time is the greatest healer, and it is, alongside love and we couldn’t love Sandy any more, she is a beautiful soul with a kooky personality. Seeing her grow in confidence makes it all worthwhile and I am so very proud of our girl.
– Michelle Burgess
‘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
‘… What if he doesn’t like us?
… What if he poos all over the house?
… What if there’s NO dog and this is a scam?!
I don’t know where to begin in explaining all the crazy things that went through my head when we decided to adopt a 6 year old rescue dog from Cyprus.
Thankfully for us, the process couldn’t have been smoother. From the moment we reserved him on Instagram, to the moment we picked him up from the airport, Wild At Heart Foundation have been nothing short of amazing. Everything was organised for us – PET scheme, passport, vaccinations, travel arrangements. You name it, they sorted it. It was so easy it didn’t feel real.
When Chino arrived it was like Christmas had come early but we had to put our excitement aside and remind ourselves that this was a middle aged dog who had suddenly been abandoned and was most likely to feel confused and lost. After a few days he gradually came out of his shell and started showing affection and signs of excitement. Within a week he’d forgotten about his travel crate and was sleeping on the bed!
Having come from a settled home, we haven’t experienced any issues with Chino and for this, we are very lucky. Six months on Chino is still showing us new sides to his personality and we can’t imagine ours lives without him.
Stav-muffin, Brioche-bum, My Little Prince, Chino-Beano, Little Lord Fauntleroy – we wouldn’t change you for the world and we love you lots.
None of this would have been possible without the help of Wild at Heart Foundation and for this we are eternally grateful. When the right dog comes up, we would not hesitate in adopting a rescue again.
Thank you Wild at Heart Foundation.’
– Loan Nguy
‘I’ve always been a dog lover, but was unsure about getting another. I lost my last dog Meg, a Border Terrier, about 2 and a half years ago and was completely devastated when she died and I was unsure whether I could go through that kind of pain again. But it then occurred to me that there’s so much joy out of having a dog and the good times far outweigh the bad times.
Nikki was often sending me pictures of dogs that needed a home, but I would always say that they were far too big and only wanted a small dog. Then just over a year ago Nikki sent me a picture of Jess, a small dog, with mad hair and so cute, just what I was looking for, so I immediately said yes.
When Jess first arrived she was so nervous and shy of everything and everyone, but with time and patience and a lot of love she has found her feet and settled in. Jess loves all other dogs and has such fun over the park playing with her many friends. It takes Jess a long time to trust people, but once she does she is full of love and affection for you. I always say she’s such a funny little dog, almost human like, there’s something very special about her. I think she may always be a little nervous of new people, but I’m not bothered by this, the love I get from her is immeasurable and I love her to bits.’
‘Me and my partner bought our first house last year and as it was only the two of us we thought it would be a nice idea to get ourselves a four legged furry friend to turn our house into a home. We both agreed that we would rescue and we were told by a friend about rescuing from abroad.
So began our search and it didn’t take long for us to stumble across young Benson and we both fell for him. We made some enquiries, went through some checks and before we knew it there was a knock at the door. Benson had arrived!
He was very nervous when he first arrived and latched onto myself. He stayed glued to my side for the next month or so, slowly growing in confidence. We gradually introduced him to family friends and other family dogs, and after a couple of months his confidence was through the roof! We also now have two kittens that keep him company and he plays the big brother role very well, sharing his food and toys with them. His bag of tricks is vast: sit, stay, stand, and paw to name a few!
We could not be happier with our young Bennie. WAHF keep in touch periodically to check up on him which shows how much they really care about the welfare of all the pups they rescue.’
– Craig Burgoyne
‘Pippa came to us on the 26th of April and what a beautiful impact she has had on our family. She has brightened up our home in every way. My daughter has a disability and is partially sighted, but Pippa and little Alice have built such a beautiful bond. They are always together, always playing, and always putting a smile on all of our faces.
Adopting from WAHF was the best thing we have ever done and I would definitely do it again! Thank you so much.
– Cheryl Queen
‘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
‘When our previous dog, Lottie, passed away in March 2016, she left a Border Collie shaped hole in our lives. The house was so quiet without her; I would sit in the living room and expect her to trot in with her collar jingling, but she wouldn’t come.
After a few months it became clear that we all wanted another dog, and Mum’s Instagram browsing came across Wild at Heart Foundation, and the puppies that were available for adoption.
On Wild at Heart Foundation’s Instagram account, my parents came across a photo of Phil, a black and white Pointer puppy, and fell in love instantly. The process of bringing him home to us was very easy. Following a Skype chat to ensure the house was suitable for a puppy, we were given a date. Phil, along with some other dogs, would be flown from Cyprus to Paris, and then driven up to various parts of England.
It was a tense day as we waited, but finally Phil was home with us, but under a new name – Bertie. He was bigger than he had been in the photos we first saw of him, and now he was very lanky, with feet and ears too big for his body. He was also very nervous; he would shake a lot and cry profusely whenever my mum left the room for a few minutes.
However, after a few days he had calmed down, and although he still hated being parted from my mum, he loved running around the garden and curling up on the sofa.
Bertie has been with us for nearly a year now, and it has been wonderful. We have never known a more loving or affectionate dog, and though he has the occasional grumble when he’s parted from my mum or dad, he is nothing like the scared little puppy that arrived at our house in July 2016. He does have a tendency to run off when we are on walks, and it can often take him a while to come back again, but he always does in the end. Overall he is just a sweet, happy, loving puppy. Bertie has made us realise that dogs, just like humans, have completely different personalities. While Lottie was more independent and liked to lie in her basket at the end of the day, Bertie loves to clamber up onto the sofa and snuggle up with whoever is there.
Bertie has made us all so happy, we don’t know what we would do without him. Thank you to WAHF for bringing him into our lives.’
– Alice Fletcher
‘I adopted Boo back in June 2014 and he was around 8 months old. He was the most adorable, sweetest puppy I’d ever seen. It was literally love at first sight. At the time we had a West Highland Terrier called Penny who was 9 years old. They soon became the best of friends. I have to say Boo to me is one in a million. We are so lucky to have him in our family. Don’t get me wrong Boo had his moments: chewing a few of my favourite shoes and maybe the odd laptop charger (!) The first night we didn’t hear a peep out of him, he settled pretty well considering he’d travelled from the other side of the world. Just makes you wonder what goes on in their little minds, but since I got Boo I’ve always said to anyone looking for a puppy please adopt don’t shop. I find that most people aren’t aware of what goes on in other countries and how dogs in particular are treated.
Sadly in November 2015 Penny (Boo’s best friend) passed away. Having WAHF on my social media, I came across a photo of two tiny little pups looking for their forever home (Donny and Marie). Again, love at first sight. I think it’s one of those things that when you know, you know. The timing was right as we’d had time to heal after our loss of Penny. In August 2016, we adopted Donny. The transport and adopting process has come on leaps and bounds since 2014. All the WAHF team were fabulous, any questions or queries you have, do not be afraid to email them. They’re so helpful and will 100% put your mind at rest. Even after you’ve gone through the adoption process, they still are there if you need them.
We collected Donny in the early hours of a Saturday morning and he was so tiny and innocent. He travelled well, and slept the whole way home. We slowly introduced him to Boo the following day and they made an instant connection and haven’t been separated since. The whole adoption process is worthwhile when you see how they progress and slowly come out their comfort zone. Donny is still learning new things each day, intrigued by everything but very mischievous!
Boo is a brilliant dog and so lovable but unfortunately his recall is still sometimes unpredictable (he likes to run around following the birds) so I always keep a long line on him in case he decides to run circles around me Although he is very loyal, I like to be able to keep control if I need too.
Donny is the complete opposite with his recall, on command he will be back by your side waiting for a treat. Our biggest issue with Donny was him chewing his bed and Boo’s. I’ve tried unbranded and popular brands and none of them have lasted longer than a week. In the end I created my own dog bed using an old car tyre and vet fleece plus blankets, now the pair take themselves to bed and happily curl up. Touch wood Donny hasn’t been able to chew through them!
But together they’re a pair and have officially stolen our hearts and everyone that they meet ends up falling in love with them. They have unconditional love for each other and us. They’re a big part of our family, our house wouldn’t be a home without these two.
Adopting is a big decision to make and shouldn’t be made lightly. But you’ll know when you’re ready and your house will soon become a home filled with happiness and love. Plus no outfit is complete without a little dog hair!
– Shannan Price
‘Our Wild at Heart Journey began with me and my partner thinking of getting a companion to join our bouncy 2 year old bouncy Springer mix, Poppy! As I followed WAHF on Facebook I decided to ask them the details of the adoption process, with the hope of looking into it further. I was advised to go on the Wild at Heart Foundation website, and this is where I first saw the beautiful Obi. I was immediately drawn to his gorgeous, loving face. I also looked on the Facebook page for WAHF and it turned out Obi needed an urgent new home. I read the comments and showed my partner his pictures, we then decided we couldn’t not help this gentle soul.
I soon came to know that Obi hadn’t had the best of starts in life. He was a stray for the first 6 months of his life in Cyprus and he had clearly been through a lot. He had clear damage to his tail, an injury probably obtained on the streets. Obi was taken to a pound in Cyprus where he was later rescued by WAHF. He had his first shot at happiness when he was adopted by a lady from the United Kingdom. He was flown over to England, but sadly it didn’t work out and Obi ended up in the same situation again, looking for a forever home.
So 24 hours after looking at Obi’s picture for the first time, we were driving down to Peterborough to pick him up. He was a quiet, shy dog at first, he must have been confused after everything he had previously faced for the whole of his short life. All the way home he just wanted cuddles. His struggle was over. We were there to give him the life he deserved, finally!
We introduced him to our other dog Poppy, and they got on straight away, they love play-fighting and chasing each other. In the days after his arrival, it was difficult and I wondered if we had bitten off more than we could chew. He was defensive and aggressive towards other dogs on walks, and he didn’t respond to many commands. With this being said he was still so loving at home with us and our other dog Poppy. We decided to speak to the behaviourist about what we could do to try and curb this behaviour on walks. They advised us about ways in which we could manage this. We watched dog programme after dog programme and read all the dog training books we once read with Poppy! Things slowly seemed to be getting better, and over the coming weeks Obi continued to improve. I think he finally realised that our home was now his too and that he could enjoy being a dog at last.
We have had Obi nearly a year, and we can now take him on walks without even bringing a lead. He’s so trustworthy and does everything how he is supposed to. He has turned into such a beautiful and caring boy who loves nothing more than running around with Poppy and receiving cuddles from every person he sees. I cannot thank WAHF enough for what they have done for Obi and our family. He has made such a positive difference to our lives and they are always there for us if we need them, they truly are amazing.
Obi you are safe, happy and loved now, and you can finally enjoy your life with us, we wouldn’t want it any other way. We love you. ‘
– Hannah Holden
‘I’d always wanted a dog and came across Wild at Heart Foundation on Instagram and knew then I wanted to re-home a rescue dog. With their help we chose the perfect first dog for our family. My criteria: small dog and had to like cats as we were a 3 cat household. They sent me a photo of a little dog that I instantly fell in love with. Rocky had been fostered by a lovely family out in Cyprus who had their own cats and who helped greatly in socialising him!
The adoption process was smooth and the WAHF team along with Rocky’s foster mum always put my mind at ease and answered all my questions!
From the moment we picked Rocky up from Heathrow on April 15th 2016 he’s been a joy! We’ve all fallen deeply in love with our little boy. And for all my worries about the cats? Well, one adored him (sadly passed away now) and the other two who initially were petrified are fine with him now.
He’s a confident and happy, cuddly little dog who attracts attention from everyone. He adores playing with other dogs big or small and always likes to greet humans too. I can’t imagine my life without him now.
One day we hope to add another WAHF rescue to our family!’
‘I had been considering getting a second dog for a while and it was by chance that a friend posted a picture of the dog they were going to adopt on Instagram which is how I found out about Wild at Heart Foundation. They kept us up to date with potential dogs to adopt but it was when I saw Sage (who is now Max) that I knew I wanted him.
He looked like a mutt, multicoloured and mischievous and incredibly cute. When he arrived it took a short while for my other dog, Ralph, to adjust but once they started getting along and playing they became inseparable. Max is very energetic, we’re pretty sure there is some kind of Lurcher and Shepherd in there, two breeds with lots of energy! Having two dogs was hard work at first. I had forgotten the frequent walks to toilet train, the accidents and the training involved but this all settles down within a few months and is worth the effort.
Having Ralph around has definitely helped with Max. He was nervous at first, of cars and busy streets and lots of other things he wasn’t used to, but I think seeing Ralph take it all in his stride taught Max that everything was OK. He can still be a little nervous now. He isn’t that interested in attention from strangers and loud noises and surprises can still startle him, but this could be down to his breed type (Lurchers can be anxious dogs) as much as the fact that he is a rescue.
Through all of this, he became incredibly attached to myself and my husband. He doesn’t really wag his tail (which was odd at first at Ralph’s never stops) but he glues himself to your legs and despite his size he would love to live on my lap. Each morning as soon as the sun comes up (which in the summer is only a few hours after bed time) he sneaks onto the bed and sleeps between my legs. Max was, and continues to be, a real gift. I think adopting a dog is a little hard work compared to buying one – they can be a little older and have stuff you need to work with, but it is so rewarding. He is great company for myself, my husband and my other dog. I don’t feel guilty leaving them alone for a few hours as I know they have each other.
I have no doubt in my mind that adopting was the right thing to do, it breaks my heart to think of the life that could’ve been Max’s and I’m so pleased that he’s part of mine instead.’
– Oliver Peto
‘Cookie has been with us for only 2 months and from the moment I met her, I fell utterly head over heels in love with her. The moment she was released from her cage in the car park at Gatwick airport, she put her 2 front paws over my arm and I swear she gave me a cuddle. She was so nervous in the car, bless her, and she still is. She totally resists going in and just can’t relax but what do you expect from a young girl who has raised herself on the street for over a year?
Cookie has AMAZING survival traits. She loves to chase birds, squirrels and cats – she is so funny. She eats any kind of poo that is going and rolls herself in any that she can too. She is a bit of a chewer – my brand new rug got it early on followed by shoes, wrapped presents and copious other things. I started to liken Cookie to a toddler and realised that I had to Cookie-safe the house. The love Cookie gives you though far outweighs the teething problems. She is super, super affectionate. She loves cuddles and is so affectionate to anyone that will give it to her. She is pretty fab around other dogs and although it appears she is playing rough, she is actually just really playful and full of energy.
Cookie hasn’t really caused us any problems. She settled in on day one and upon offering her a bed, she knew that was her space instantly. She point blank refused to sleep in a crate (we tried) – it just wasn’t for her.
Cookie was only given her name a month(ish) before she came to us yet she responds well to it. She is sitting for food, sometimes responds to the command “wait”, “off”, “no”. She has selective hearing though and if off the lead and on a scent or a bird chase, she is deaf! This is her survival instinct though and combined with her previous street life and the terrier in her, this is to be expected.
I let Cookie off her lead quite early on as she is REALLY energetic. She needs to expel her energy and being on a lead all of the time just isn’t cutting it for her. We go to open fields with no nearby roads. She has become really familiar with our frequent walks and has developed her own little routines now as to what spaces she likes to explore. Cookie isn’t keen on her lead AT ALL. She hates her harness and still pulls. I am still working on this. She is so nosey and inquisitive and desperate to catch birds that she just lives life at a much faster pace and the lead really restricts her fun. We do have quieter more subdued days, but her personality, on the whole is full of vitality. Cookie has made lots of doggy friends close by and even knows, the gardens to look in for her pals on our daily walks.
Cookie is starting to fetch a ball and is becoming familiar with the word “ball”. She doesn’t fetch it with every command or throw; it just depends what is taking her fancy at the time.
Cookie is partial to jumping for moths, flies and anything else she thinks is food. She does eat her dog food, but much prefers human food like chicken and ham. She is a good girl and eats carrots, broccoli and loves her Kong toys to be filled with cream cheese and peanut butter. She has really started to enjoy playing with her toys and keeps herself amused at times.
Cookie has responded well to not jumping on the sofa, but each day she has a mad half hour where she runs from the garden into the house like she is being timed for some kind of doggy agility – the sofa is often one of her touch down spots. If she is really excited to see you, she will jump on the sofa for a cuddle. Cookie won’t go up the stairs though, I’m not sure why, but this troubles her a little.
During the day when we’re not at home Cookie is walked by a dog walker. I feel that she needs 3 walks a day, just because she is so energetic. On the one day I left her without a mid-day walk, she destroyed anything she could get her teeth into, so she needs stimulation. Perhaps as she matures, this will change.
I can honestly say that Cookie really has changed my life. I never imagined I could feel so much love for a dog. I can tell she loves her life with us. Country life suits her and she really has embraced her home comforts. She has got lots to learn, but no more than any toddler.
Thanks so much WAHF for all that you and your team do, it really does make such a massive difference.’
– Denise Brown
Zz is the joy of our family, in fact I think we only started to think about us as a “family” since he joined us! I cannot stress enough the joy that this little lovely brings to us every day – he is great company and fun to look after. We are grateful and forever in debt to Wild At Heart Foundation for having rescued our friend Zz, we couldn’t imagine our lives without him. These guys do extraordinary work not only to rescue dogs but also to train them, sustain them and re-home them, supporting not only the animals but also the adopters.
It hasn’t always been an easy ride with Zz as he suffers from anxiety – can you imagine the stress of having been abandoned and left on your own as a young child? Neither can I and so it is understandable that dogs like him might experience distress, but the extra effort is more than paid off by all the love they give you without asking anything in return.’
– Valentina Fois
‘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
‘We picked Crumpet up at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on 22nd December 2016. I knew it was a little risqué getting her so close to Christmas but I was just too impatient to wait longer. She arrived looking so tiny in her little crate. I put my fingers through the door of it and she immediately licked my fingers. It was love at first sight!
We took her on the train back to our apartment. She was surprisingly calm and quite inquisitive to everything going on around her. We took her home and gave her a bath as she was a little mucky. That evening I started playing with her and soon got a taste of her happy, jolly personality. Over the course of the next few days we had people coming over, including a couple of friend’s babies. I was extremely cautious as knew it was very early on to bring people over, especially little ones. She took everything in her stride however and apart from shocking my mother-in-law with her lack of house-training, she was perfect.
We were told she loves people and children and this couldn’t be more true of Crumpet. She adores them to the point where I get jealous! She’d walk off with absolutely anyone, no loyalty whatsoever. Our two children adore her and she’s so patient, being patted and picked up constantly. With other dogs she’s desperate to play, regardless of size!
There has been the odd hiccup that I imagine is completely normal with any dog (rescue, or non-rescue!). The odd bit of chewing, some house-training mishaps and the constant plucking of disgusting things from her mouth which she picks up on the streets of Paris. She’s our little street hoover.
People are so shocked when we tell them she’s a rescue dog as she is so friendly, so calm and just such a lovely little dog to have around. We can’t imagine our life without her and are now considering getting our second WAHF dog to keep her company when we’re out!’
– Dinah Hillsdon
‘Bruce is a Labrador–German Shepherd cross – a huge, bouncy bear of a dog with almost unlimited energy. He arrived – fairly unexpectedly – at a time when my husband and I were working hard as entrepreneurs and reminds us daily to get outside and play! He loves to chase and jump high in the air after a ball (though he won’t relinquish it until you give him another), to splash around in water (although refuses to swim unless we do too!), riding in the car with his head sticking out the window, inventing games only he knows the rules to and running around with his cousins – my parents’ three rescue dogs.
When I talk to people considering getting a dog, they often mention the commitment of daily walks. To me, this has been a huge gift. Every morning Bruce and I have a mini adventure around the countryside, and he’s inspired us to explore so many new places. He’s also incredible company, especially when my husband goes away for work. I just couldn’t imagine life without him, or without his signature morning wake up call – pinning you to the bed with his colossal weight and licking your face!
Caring for Bruce hasn’t been without his challenges. Soon after he arrived it became clear that he had separation anxiety and a mistrust of people, particularly men. He also had an overly strong protective instinct. Discovering his triggers and learning how to work with him to overcome them took patience, consistent effort, support and lots of YouTube videos! But it really paid off. He’s relaxed significantly and has become much more confident, which has let his naturally goofy and loving personality shine through. People have always commented on Bruce’s handsomeness – now they compliment his good behaviour too, which is amazing. Knowing Bruce’s less-than-fortunate beginnings makes watching him thrive and become a true family dog an extra-special delight.
I am overflowing with gratitude to Wild At Heart Foundation and all the little miracles that brought Bruce into our lives. He has transformed us as much as we have transformed him and we could not love him more. ‘
– Lizzy Nichol
‘We had been looking for a dog for a while after losing our previous dog sometime before in 2016… Having a young child meant we were keen to have a dog that was of course child friendly but who could fit easily into our routine too. I’d come across Wild at Heart on Instagram and started to research them and how the process worked.
After an initial email we had a call to discuss what we were looking for in a dog; child friendly, dog friendly, over 1 year in age and medium size. That was pretty much our criteria. We didn’t mind bread or an older dog etc.
We were told that once a dog came up that matched our criteria we would receive an email with some photos and details. However; we got a call, in less than a week to say that Hugo, a poodle cross from Cyprus had been let down by his previous adopters and was needing a forever home. He met all our criteria which was great… But he was arriving in a week. So, we took a chance after seeing just one picture to give this wee dog a chance and a loving home.
Well, all I can say is that we made the right decision… Hugo has been a superstar; he came ‘home’ at 4am after a long trip from Cyprus and settled right away. He explored a little, ate a great deal then slept, on our bed! But we wouldn’t have had it any other way.
From day 1 he wasn’t fazed by anything; traffic, people, dogs, our little girl. He took it all in his stride… He is just so gentle, happy and chilled out. He loves to play but equally sleep 🙂 and at doggy training classes, picked up tricks and manners super quickly.
I love watching the relationship between him and our little girl develop into something that will bring a lifetime of memories for both of them. They play together, relax together and he even cuddles up to her at nap time. He is the perfect gentleman!
People always comment on how well-natured and behaved he his and when I say he was a rescue from Cyprus they can’t believe it. He’s definitely flying the flag for rescue dogs and Wild at Heart foundation.
It’s only been a month since he arrived, but it feels like he’s been here forever and we wouldn’t change him for the world.
Thank you for allowing us to give him a forever home!’
– Katie Tobin
‘We adopted our adorable Rupert in September 2016. We had been looking to rescue a dog for quite a few months to keep Rex (our other dog) company before stumbling across WAHF on Instagram. After a few emails back and forth they sent us Rupert’s picture and we just knew he was the one!
To start with, he was very shy and nervous and would hide under the sofa and sleep under our bed at night but he has come so far since then and is full of SO much energy. He loves going for long walks and running off lead in the woods and on the beach. While we’re at work during the week we have a dog walker with two young boys who absolutely love walking him – he has always got on well with other dogs and children which has been amazing.
We’re so proud of how far he has come – on his first few walks he was so scared of the cars driving past and would jump up until we picked him up but now he is full of confidence.
Although he has ruined a fair few pairs of our shoes, we can’t imagine our lives without him now and can’t thank WAHF enough for bringing Rupert into our lives. He is the most loving, affectionate dog we have ever met who always greets us with endless kisses and cuddles. Since adopting Rupert, our friends have also adopted through WAHF and this has made us so happy!’
– Sophia Edwards
‘The story began with a click on a hashtag, my Ipad and I spend late night hours scrolling through Instagram, that night we stopped on the “Wild at Heart Foundation” page just by chance.
The idea of adoption was a constant thought since we lost our beloved Dada, rescued and adopted in Italy (and whom we spent 17 wonderful years with). That night I understood it was time for us to turn the page and start a new trip.
I started talking about the Foundation and showing pictures to my son, my husband and then the whole family… that same smile on their face made me feel sure it was the right time and right thing to do. I still don’t know if it was because of his name or because of his eyes but I fell in love at first sight with Jinx. I waited anxiously at the airport, crying at the opening of his crate, waiting for that poor, scared, terrified creature. How could we manage to calm him down?
However, when I saw his cheeky face behind the bars of the crate I understood what was going to happen – Jinx is a hurricane of joy, he is an earthquake of love, he came out of the crate already jumping like crazy licking us and running everywhere to play. Playing is his second obsession after eating, he has also a third obsession: stealing, whatever is not his. When we go for a walk he has to put his head into the bags of those who walk on the same path, he has to say hello to everybody he knows (or he doesn’t know) and he has to run like crazy at dog park all the other dogs following behind him. Jinx is a tireless prankster stealing people’s gloves or dogs’ leads! It can be embarrassing sometimes but let’s just say he is still a puppy…
I believe he is unique. He brought with him a contagious joy, love and positivity.
I will never thank WAHF enough making this possible and giving him a second chance – from Cyprus streets to Geneva.
– Paola Babini
‘So the beautiful Nala has been with us for 4 months now and to think it all started with a picture from Facebook! I instantly fell in love with Nala’s picture and couldn’t stop looking at her to which my partner gave in. We were considering rescuing but never realised you could rescue from abroad – WAHF made the process so simple and worked alongside Nala’s rescuer to get her ready to fly to the UK. We were also sent regular updates and photos until Nala was old enough to fly.
Before we knew it, it was arrival day. On arrival she was very nervous and she didn’t want to leave her crate. Once in the car and snuggled in a blanket she soon settled for the journey home.
When we arrived home Nala went straight round the house having a good sniff of everything possible. As soon as she became unsure of anything she disappeared under the dining table – her safe place – but she would soon venture back out. I was lucky enough to have 2 weeks off work when Nala arrived which I strongly believe was best for her. Within a couple of days Nala was no longer hiding and was taking to house training ever so quickly other than when it was raining but hey, coming from sunny Cyprus who could blame her!
The only thing Nala wasn’t so keen on at first was her crate even with cosy blankets toys and treats she would cry for a while when first left alone and as soon as she heard us pull up on the drive but now when she knows it’s work time she takes herself there!
Nala is now the most friendly, confident, crazy puppy. She turns heads wherever we go and has even won rosettes at local dog shows. Nala has taken to our active lifestyle perfectly and although she has only been with us 4 months I can’t imagine life without her. She is my partner in crime and has filled an emptiness I didn’t know I had. We thank Wild at Heart Foundation from the bottom of our hearts.’
– Samantha Manning
‘We can’t believe it’s already 2 years now that Maya, the German Shepherd Dog has been with us! And to be absolutely clear: we wouldn’t want to have missed one day of it!
Maya was kind of a surprise for us. Actually we were not really looking for a new dog. We had recently lost Tara at the age of 13 years. After she died, yes, we did miss the dog in our family life and in our house. But no, we were not really planning to fill this empty space. What we had done already for a long time: we followed Wild at Heart Foundation on Instagram and we were impressed with the work that they were doing at that time already for stray dogs.
Then, when I was killing time waiting for one of our kids at her sports club I bumped into this picture of Maya, sitting on a staircase. She really hit me then and in a comment under that picture I made a referral to my wife Angela, who was at home. It then turned out she already had seen that same picture and felt just the same about that poor German Shepherd puppy. When WAHF got in contact with us and told us how difficult it was to find a forever home for the big dog that Maya would be, we fell in love with her. One thing led to another and at the end of that summer Maya flew over to Dusseldorf airport where we met her and brought her with us to Holland.
It was amazing how quickly Maya adopted us as her new family. She trusted us and fitted into our household smoothly. Maya is very easy and gentle with us, she’s a truly happy family dog. She can be hard work though, she’s not at ease in situations that she is not familiar with and can be easily frightened. She is not always so nice when she’s on the lead meeting other dogs that she doesn’t trust. So, it’s important for us to keep her working and do an active training together every week at the dog school. We are happy that even now, after a couple of years already, she is still learning! Not only tricks of all sorts, but also learning to trust us more and more in situations out of her control.
Of course, when looking for a dog, we would strongly recommend considering adopting one. The love and affection that we receive from Maya confirms for us every day that we did the right thing. We cannot imagine what her life would be like, roaming the streets in Cyprus or being chained to a gate as a guard dog. It would have been so opposite to the sweet and loving character that Maya has developed into.
– Gert-Jan and Angela van Rietschoten
‘Frederick and I had been discussing having a dog for a long time, including what type of dog would suit our lifestyle and not be too disruptive to our rescue cat, who has a limp and a heart murmur. What was clear was that we both wanted to give a home to a dog that needed it and we both wanted a bitch.
Late November 2016 we heard about the charity and we were soon looking at the website. We liked a dog named Adele (actually we liked all of them!!) and decided to enquire, completely overturning our decision to wait until we moved house. Adele had other interest but we were told Zorro, her brother, was available. One look at his beautiful face was enough, helped by the line ‘who will give this little boy a home before the snow comes?’. The litter consisted of 10 puppies aged about 2 weeks and had been found with their fantastic mum, Goya, in a derelict building.
We waited anxiously to be home checked, proclaimed fit dog owners and then occupied ourselves with a new version of retail therapy.
Finally, Ziggy and 3 of his siblings, set off from snowy Bosnia on 9th January. We were grateful to the charity for the photos and emails about his progress. After an overnight stay in Romania they arrived in Lincolnshire to be checked by a vet and settled before the next stage of the journey to their new homes.
On Saturday 14th January, I cut short a meeting and persuaded a colleague to speed to South Mimms service station to meet Frederick and collect Ziggy. The terrified, scrawny, stunningly gorgeous bundle was handed to Frederick and was soon in a crate in the back of our car, heading home.
He was overwhelmed by everything at first — especially our cat, Molly. We needn’t have worried about her, she definitely had the upper hand and still has. We would find him cowering in a corner with her staring or hissing and had to spend weeks keeping them separated and trying to stop her blocking the door when he needed a pee! So we are delighted that 5 months on they like to be fed together and have reached an understanding, if not quite full on love. They will now lie close together and occasionally touch noses.
It was all much harder than we had imagined. We couldn’t go down the street without him freezing in fear, then the lead pulling began (holding it behind your back works) and scavenging (teach the leave command asap) and his recall is still pretty tricky when he gets a scent but we are told that is symptomatic of hounds. There were days when we wondered what we had done followed by sheer moments of joy. There have been ups and downs and training is tough at times but it has been invaluable, as have been the number of dog owners we have met with all their knowledge and encouragement. One of our highlights was watching the sheer joy and sense of freedom as he ran and ran on the beach near our cottage in Scotland — what a moment!!!
So has it been worth it? You bet it has. Ziggy loves to eat, sleep, chew, dig , lick feet, kiss, and sniff. But one of his favourite things is playing with his brother, Alfie. Yes, they knew each other instantly, although they look nothing alike they have very similar personalities. We we are lucky enough to be able to meet up occasionally.
The Foundation has been amazingly supportive and provide a wealth of information. The best thing is being in contact with the owners of Ziggy’s siblings for mutual support and sharing of issues and joys.
Mr Zig is friendly to everyone, loving, funny, inquisitive, playful, clever, mischievous, frustrating, stubborn, adorable and very much part of the family after a rollercoaster 5 months.
We will be moving house shortly from inner London to SW Herts; the criteria changed to include a bigger garden!!’
– Lynn and Frederick Hannay
‘We adopted our beautiful Poodle mix Baxter in January 2017 and we couldn’t imagine our lives without him. We had been looking for a rescue dog for a few months and stumbled upon WAHF on Instagram after following a blogger who had rescued a dog from them. The moment they sent us a photo and details about Baxter, we knew immediately that he was the dog for us.
He was shy and nervous at the start, but we’ve seen his personality develop over the months to the funny, energetic and loving dog that he is now. He was quick to pick up basic commands and we were able to walk him off the lead within a month. As we both work, we have a dog walker during the week, who he has bonded with well. She walks him with other dogs so it’s great for socialisation.
Although we’re so proud of how far he has come, it’s not all perfect. As much as he loves us, he’s still nervous and protective when visitors come to the house and he’s scared of children. As we don’t know much about his background or what he may have experienced, we have to be patient and work with him gradually to help him overcome his fears. We’ve picked up some useful tips from the foundation’s dog behaviourist.
We can’t thank the WAHF team enough for bringing Baxter into our lives. They are always on hand to answer our questions and the WAHF Facebook group with fellow adopters is a great source for help and advice and to share photos and stories.
Choosing to adopt a rescue dog isn’t necessarily an easy option, but for us, the rewards far outweigh any negatives. From taking Baxter for long walks in parks to seeing him excitedly greet us when we get home, to lots of cuddles on the sofa, Baxter is a part of our family and we feel so lucky to have him.’
– Maria Dixon