Written by Kay Aitcheson, who also supplied the photographs
When Mitchell’s Plain Animal Welfare (MPAW) was called out to remove a severely neglected dog from a property, they were unprepared for what awaited them. When they arrived, they found a tiny black puppy cowering by her starved and dying mommy. They moved quickly, scooping both up and whisking them away to safety.
Tragically, there was no hope for the mother dog as her state of neglect was too advanced, but a foster home was quickly arranged for the terrified pup. Starving and skinny and looking like something from an alien movie, such was the state of my latest foster. Daunting though her case was, I was very involved in fostering for Fallen Angels at the time, so I was ready for this tiny thing that reminded me of an ugly duckling.
Gina subsequently matured into a good-looking dog. I worked harder to find her a good home than I had for any other foster but, alas, at the time it seemed that nobody was in a position to take on my black bat-eared pup (her ears were enormous)!
At six months, we relented – the universe had decided for us. We had her spayed and officially adopted her. And what a little character Gina turned out to be… So full of fun, so happy and responsive. She even helped raise my next few foster pups – she was amazingly gentle with the babies. I’m not sure how or when exactly it happened, but somehow our no-dogs-on the-bed policy didn’t apply to her and she became the dog that sleeps on my son’s bed.
My son trained her in my puppy school (I run my own puppy school) and she proved a willing student and a quick learner. I eventually started taking her to an agility class, and we’ve been learning agility skills together for about two years. Although easily distracted by people standing close by, she absolutely loves running the course, and we’re simply having the most fun together.
Not without her challenges – our Gina. To this day, she’s still very anxious about new people and dogs, but there’s no doubt that she landed with her butt in the butter in this home, and we could certainly not imagine life without her.
She’s so energetic and so vocal (particularly in the agility class) that I wondered if she wasn’t part Border Collie, and this led me to contact MuttMix in an effort to understand her behaviour better. It turned out that Gina has NO Border Collie at all…
Gina’s MuttMix Results
Level 1 German Shepherd
Level 3 Ibizan Hound (this might explain the ears)
Level 5 Chow Chow
We were thrilled with the results – when she sits nicely you can definitely see the GSD. My husband and I had Chows for many years and miss them dearly; how funny that Gina would be a little bit Chow Chow!
They say that every dog comes into your life for a reason. Gina has certainly taught us a lot (especially me as a dog trainer of 17 years) and brought bucket loads of love along for the journey.