The pandemic has cemented the UK as a nation of dog lovers, with thousands of us adopting a pup over lockdown. But according to the Dogs Trust, between August 2020 and January 2021, there was a 41 per cent increase in web traffic to its Giving Up Your Dog page – a truly heartbreaking statistic.
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Owning a dog isn't easy, but giving a deserving pooch a second chance at happiness is one of the most rewarding things you can do. Sali Hughes, journalist & co-founder of Beauty Banks, was looking for a bigger dog yet the second she met "soppy" mixed breed pup Sylvie, she knew she was the right rescue for her family.
Sali adopted Sylvie from Dogs Trust Evesham in August 2015 after falling for the sweet-natured dog with an insatiable appetite and unfeasibly huge ears. Six years on, it's still the best decision she ever made. Here, Sali shares her story…
Sali Hughes adopted Sylvie six years ago from the Dogs Trust
Why did you choose Sylvie out of all the dogs?
"In all honesty (it’s OK, she won’t read this) when I first met Sylvie, I wasn’t sure she was the one. I’d wanted a bigger dog. But when this tiny, stripy, foxy thing bounded over to us at Dogs Trust in Evesham, my husband and kids immediately fell for her and it didn’t take me long to get on the same page. She’s absolutely unique."
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Why was she up for adoption?
"She'd been found on the street at a few months old. Staff suspected she may never have lived in a house before ours, but details are scant."
How did Sylvie settle in at home?
"She was curious, clever, energetic and seemed to regard us as family just as quickly as we saw her that way. I think she was lying across my lap within an hour or two."
Sylvie made herself at home right away
What's the biggest transformation you've seen in her?
"She got bigger! In all honesty, her personality hasn’t changed dramatically - she’s pretty much as soft, silly and greedy as she was when we brought her home. Six years on, she’s still quite puppy-like. She's always smiling, wagging and will literally never tire of a walk. Her obsession with food means we've been able to motivate her to learn lots of fun tricks over the years."
What does Sylvie mean to you?
"She means a great deal. I was heartbroken when my previous dog Margot died of old age, but Sylvie has shown that a totally different personality can be just as much part of our home and hearts in her own daft, loving and funny way.
"She's extremely cuddly and soppy and although it takes her time to warm up to strangers, when she finally falls, she falls hard. All our friends adore her and look forward to visiting her more than they do us!"
The rescue pup is adorably soppy
What would your advice be for other people considering a rescue dog?
"Take your time, but if the thought keeps nagging at you, and your lifestyle can support the exercise and attention that your dog will need, do it! Adopting a rescue dog is incredibly rewarding and I’ve never regretted it. I can’t imagine ever buying a dog again – we'd turn straight to Dogs Trust without hesitation.
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"Don't get too bogged down in specific breeds - we decided we definitely didn't want a Jack Russell and yet came home with half of one! It turns out that we love them. Rescue dogs can’t be ordered a la carte like a posh dinner. Very often, the perfect dog for you is the one you least expect.
"Dogs Trust provides fantastic support for dogs and their owners - and filling in the National Dog Survey will be a massive help in allowing the charity to continue doing that moving forwards."
To help Dogs Trust better understand the UK's 12.5 million pooch population and ultimately help dog owners and their pets, the charity is making a final call to dog owners across the country to complete the National Dog Survey by Sunday 24 October. Visit nationaldogsurvey.org.uk now.