An unwanted puppy given away on Christmas Eve, terrified Evie was a challenging dog to take on. But with plenty of love and patience from new owner Shannon Spence, she’s now a happy, loyal five-year-old.
Evie’s journey into Shannon’s life began on the night of Christmas Eve 2015. At the height of the festive season, she was collected from unloving owners after a Facebook post stated that she needed rehoming immediately. A terrified puppy, Evie had only a muzzle and a dirty dish to her name. It was clear that she would need some serious TLC to have any chance of becoming a normal, happy dog.
No stranger to adopting a rescue dog, Shannon had lost her beloved German Shepherd a few months before. ‘We said we wouldn’t get another dog, but our Husky, Casper, was lonely,’ she says. Shannon was known to the original rescuers who had taken Evie in. She took Casper to meet Evie, a Belgian Malinois German Shepherd cross, a week later. ‘Evie took to Caspar right away; they just clicked,’ says Shannon. Evie arrived in her new home the same day.
Caring for a challenging rescue dog
Evie hadn’t been given any socialisation or training, and even bringing her home was stressful. ‘She shook, urinated and defecated in the car,’ Shannon recalls. ‘Getting her outside the house was a challenge; every sound frightened her.’
Despite intensive professional training, aggression was an issue with Evie for a long time, including biting when scared or overwhelmed. ‘I shed so many tears thinking we weren’t going to be able to keep Evie; even vets and trainers were saying she was a liability,’ says Shannon. Her major worry was that if they didn’t help Evie, she wouldn’t be rehomed again due to her size and the misconception that she’s a dangerous breed. ‘We couldn’t give up on her,’ she adds.
How dog training made a difference
Finding the right trainer was a pivotal point in helping Evie become the pet she is today: ‘She took the time to understand Evie and her behaviours,’ Shannon explains. Three years later, Evie has passed the Kennel Club ‘Good Citizen’ scheme, regularly takes part in agility courses and even helps Shannon fundraise for local causes. Having always been passionate about helping dogs, Shannon was inspired to become a trainer herself, and now uses Evie as a positive model in her classes.
Evie’s remarkable natural instincts and her solid bond with Shannon have even helped her to become a support dog, despite no formal training: ‘I have a heart condition that causes me to pass out,’ says Shannon. ‘If I have an episode, Evie will wait with me or fetch my husband.’
After putting their lives on hold to care for Evie, Shannon and her husband have now been able to take her on holiday, and move house, and they’re expecting a baby any day now. ‘You wouldn’t have believed it possible when we first got her, but she’s the most loyal dog you’ll ever meet,’ Shannon says. ‘Regardless of their breed or history, there’s a family for every dog – you’ve just got to find it.’
Advice on adopting a rescue dog
Adam Clowes, Operations Director at Petplan charity partner Dogs Trust, agrees with what Shannon says. ‘We believe there’s a dog for everyone and we’d always ask anyone thinking of bringing a four-legged friend into their life, to consider rehoming a rescue dog,’ he says. ‘They each have a unique story behind them.’
But rehoming a rescue pet is a big responsibility, which is why Dogs Trust are reminding people that ‘A Dog Is for Life, Not Just for Lockdown’. As Adam advises: ‘It’s important to do your research and consider what your usual daily and weekly life looks like, and whether you can give a dog everything they need, as well as afford food, bedding, vet treatment and insurance for the duration of the dog’s life, too.’
But if you could offer a new forever home to a rescue dog, as Shannon did, the chances are it could be life-changing for you both.
Got a great rescue story? Post a snap on Facebook, Instagram or X with the hashtag #PethoodStories and we could be sharing your dog’s story next!