Doug, Wesley & Milo’s Story ~ Sally Martin & Greg Richards, Victoria
Our first Airedale was an accident. We had been given a Gordon Setter (Milky) and she was just the most beautiful looking dog imaginable … black and tan with flowing feathers … just so majestic. But life’s accidents took over and she was killed on our small side street … a car travelling too fast … a dog with no road sense … and us standing and watching the whole thing happen! Such a tragic loss … we were devastated and felt so guilty!
So, off we went to the RSPCA to save the oldest, most decrepit thing we could find … we had failed young and beautiful so we set out to get the opposite. We found No 27 .. an old woolly ‘bitza’ who could hardly walk (in hindsight he adopted us 🙂
A wash and a clip and a trip to the vet (Dr Hugh Wirth) revealed a two year old (about) Airedale Terrier. We called him Doug and he was with us for the next 14 years! The first eight years were filled with trauma (for us) … he took the washing off the line … he stole birthday / Christmas cakes or any food that we didn’t watch carefully. He was a trial! … but he loved us (without judgement) and we loved him. He would always greet us with such joy when we arrived home. Or when we spoke his name. Or when we just smiled at him.
When he finally crossed the Rainbow Bridge, we were totally traumatised. It took another six years before we could even think about getting another dog. But I had no doubt: if we were getting a dog it was going to be an Airedale!
Along came Wesley …..
Looking back on it, I don’t remember a time when we didn’t have a dog, but I do remember a time when I did exactly what I wanted to do, whenever I wanted. A time when life was without a food critic … ‘Oh, you’re eating again, is there some for me?’ A time when life was without a music critic … ‘Oh, if you’ve got time to practice that violin then you must have time for a game!’ A time when mornings didn’t mean, ‘have you fed the dog?’ and when going out didn’t involve leaving the heater and the lights on and didn’t take an extra 10 minutes of treat preparation. Ah, the good old days!
Although we were ‘dog people’, it had always been someone else’s dog … a rescue before we’d heard of rescue. A bitza from the RSPCA, an unwanted Afghan, the gorgeous Gordon Setter, then the Airedale, Doug and Molly, the Maltese Shitzu cross who was Doug’s lifelong VBF (very best friend). All rescued/adopted from somewhere or someone but all who were two years old + when we got them.
I knew we had made the right decision when I first saw Matilda, Wesley’s mum. I took one look at her and burst into tears! Happy/sad memory tears.
Although we’d come to choose our puppy I wanted to take Matilda home. So Greg did the puppy selection – a highly complicated process – the first one to sit on his foot was ours. The green puppy won the race. In hindsight, he was the only one actually racing: all the others were being good and lining up neatly for puppy selection. Susan, his breeder, had named the green puppy Wesley and we decided not to change it. Wesley is still racing!
At the time of writing this, it is hard to believe that Milo has only been with us for four weeks! He just fits us like a glove, though probably it’s more like a dog to a bone or a dale to a hole.
A post by Sue Forrester on Facebook, AireNet Australia group, started the adoption ball rolling. “Foster (or adoptive) home needed: if anyone is in a position to help foster an 11 year old Airedale boy, please contact me. He’s sweet, fit and healthy, good with other dogs and people, and we can’t let this dear Senior become homeless. He has been an outside dog so may take a while to adapt to inside, but he deserves every bit of help we can offer.”
My heart said, “We can have him!” but I knew this needed to be a joint decision. Greg took a while to see the post but when encouraged to look immediately said, “We can have him!” So emails were sent and phone calls made. On finding out a little more about our possible new addition, Milo, we discovered that he was actually Wesley’s uncle. Wesley’s father and Milo were from the same litter.
Our heads wondered how Wesley, our now three year old Airedale, would cope. I was always saying, “It’s not all about you, Wesley!” But he knew it actually was. So the dilemma: We knew we wanted to share our lives with this special old Airedale but would Wesley want this?
We gambled that he did (after a trial walk together where they just ignored each other) and that gamble has payed off 100 times over. In two weeks, Milo learned to walk off-leash, to play bitey-face and to tease Wesley into a game. He was easily and quickly house trained and fun trained although we haven’t quite perfected his basic training, things like ‘give’ or ‘leave’. But a kiss on the nose makes him give us anything he has. He now takes himself to his new bed while we are still up; happy to leave our side because he knows we will still be there when he wakes. This was his last step in the process of a finding a new belonging.
Milo had come from a caring home. He is a beautiful Aire-gentleman with a constantly wagging tail that shows his delight for everyone and everything. He is a gorgeous Senior ‘dale … a little deaf, a little lame and with maybe a little bit of dementia but with lots of personality and lots of love to share.
Wesley, whom we thought was a bit selfish, has shown his true black and tan colours. He still steals our hankies (out of pockets) but then takes them and places them gently on Milo’s back. He finds his sacred tennis ball and drops it lovingly at Milo’s feet. And, he has quickly learned his new name! If we want Wesley, we just call Milo and Wesley comes racing … just to prove it is still all about him 🙂
They happily share their house, their toys, their beds, their food, their walks, their games and their family … all with a generous spirit and a magnificent and loving aire-ttitude.
Milo crossed the Rainbow Bridge on 2 April, 2015.