Stuart Pointer probably started life as a hunting dog in Cyprus. Somewhat shy and retiring, he probably wasn’t a very good hunter, and arrived in the animal shelter at around a year old.
Unfortunately, being equally shy and retiring in the animal shelter led to him being frequently overlooked, and he languished there for a further 8 years, with little prospect of ever enjoying a home.
As Stuart spent his later years in Cyprus, my police career was drawing to a close. Pointers were always a breed that I had a soft spot for. I remember a particular a business on my patch, which owned a German Pointer called Eric. They were trying to train him as a guard dog, so whenever I called in for a chat and a brew, I was supposed to get out of my police car and run if Eric came out and barked at me. He was just too soft, and we always ended up just having a cuddle!
I had owned other dogs – a rescued Boxer, an inherited Westie, a rescued Jack Russell x Daschund – but my retirement dog of choice was a German Shorthaired Pointer, and so ‘Princess’ Lily (Eastfalla Toblerone, if you want her posh name) arrived as a puppy.
Lily is a typical German Pointer – intelligent, boisterous, incredibly needy and totally loveable. In 2020, I was made redundant from my retirement job. Covid lockdown was imposed, and we started looking for another dog. The price of pups had gone through the roof, and litters were reserved as soon as they were advertised, so we looked at rescuing once more.
Rescue organisations in the UK were effectively closed down so we joined various social media groups for rescues from abroad, and soon found FAAR.
And every time we looked at the dogs available through FAAR, there was one dog whose story just tugged at out heart strings – Stuart.
After some initial enquiries to establish that he was likely to fit comfortably into our household, we applied to adopt him. Vasilisa Russo was an exceptionally supportive and efficient point of contact and we shared pictures and videos of our home, garden, and the village where we lived to complete a virtual home check. Eventually we were able to provide sufficient information that we could offer Stuart a good home, and we were able to plan for his arrival on 9th October 2020.
Vasilisa Russo set up a Facebook chat group with those who had cared for him in Cyprus. Maria Mournehis and Sylvia Sophocleous shared photos and videos with us, as his departure date approached. We knew a great deal about the character we would be adopting into our home, long before Stuart arrived in the UK. When he arrived Linda Demetriou joined the group.
The arrangements were that we would meet Stuart on the A1 at Blyth Services. By the time he arrived, Stuart he’d been flown from Cyprus to Belgium, loaded on a pet transporter, driven to Calais, through the Channel Tunnel and more than halfway up England – he travelled more than we had in 2020!
The dog we met at Blyth Services was tired, confused and stressed. He also desperately needed a wee – we put a lead on him and he dragged us straight to the nearest patch of grass. I have owned numerous dogs but I have never experienced a dog wee for quite so long as Stuart did there. He must have been controlling his bladder from the moment he left Cyprus, 36 hours earlier!
After that, he jumped straight in the back of our car and settled down for the drive home. An hour later, he was meeting ‘Princess’ Lily and getting used to life in our – and his – home.
I sent an update to our Facebook group:
‘He was a little flighty when he first came off the van - but not surprising as there was a lot of traffic. But he was perfect in the car. He has had a little exploration of the garden and is now finding his way around the house.
Lily was a little wary of him at first (which was good, as she can be a bit full on)
But they are settling nicely’.
For the first couple of days, we left Stuart to explore our house and garden. He found his way to settle in the large dog bed we had bought, and eventually on to the sofa (he now prefers the armchair).
The most obvious sign that he was relaxing was noticed by our youngest son:
‘The biggest indicator is the shape of his spine. Yesterday he had a real dip in the middle when he was standing - all hunched and withdrawn. Today he is pretty much straight and Pointer-shaped.'
Two days later we tackled the outside world, This was the update I sent to his former carers:
‘Couple of ‘firsts’ for Stuart today!
Having thoroughly explored the ground floor since Friday, today he tackled the stairs - I’m not sure what his previous experience of stairs is but I’m guessing not much!
This afternoon we decided he had relaxed sufficiently after his journey that he could say hello to the outside world.
We had his slip lead on as well as his extending lead but he was so chilled and well behaved that, once we were away from the roads, we took it off and let him have a proper ramble on his extending lead. We were out for over an hour and Stuart is now happily snoring ️
House training wasn’t an issue. On two occasions, he celebrated eating his tea by weeing on his food bowl. We solved that by removing his bowl as soon as he had finished eating. After that, it wasn’t a problem. He also pooed in the house once, when we didn’t recognise the signs that he needed to go out. Even then, he went to the room that overlooked the garden.
Since then he has been absolutely immaculate – in fact, he grooms himself incessantly and is one of the cleanest dogs we have ever owned.
When Stuart arrived, he was anything but a confident dog. He didn’t bark – but encouraged by ‘Princess’ Lily, he found his voice
I enquired with his former carers;
‘Ladies, did I imagine it or when we were looking at adopting Stuart, was he described as a dog who didn’t bark. The only reason I ask is that we appear to have adopted a cross between Scooby Doo and the Hound of the Baskervilles!!! It does sound like his voice hasn’t been used in a long time. We already had one Pointer who takes issue with anyone who dares to use the pavement at the end of our garden, we now have a pair of vocal guard dogs (although one of them doesn’t seem to have any idea what he is barking at)’
In the last 4 months, we have grown used to Stuart’s little ways – the fact that he doesn’t like to be watched when he eats, his ability to audibly break wind, the snoring. Our attempt at working on his recall at a secure dog field failed miserably. The owners erected a shelter and a bench – as soon as the bad weather arrived, whenever Stuart was let off the lead, he ran straight to the shelter and sat on it!
In January, I sent the following update to his former carers in Cyprus:
‘Been a little while since I sent an update. Don’t think Stuart is too impressed with his first wet, cold English winter. But he stands patiently for his big yellow coat to be put on, and enjoys sniffing in the grass verges (and weeing on top of every scent he finds).
We won’t be taking him to the secure dog field until the weather improves. There’s a shelter there with a bench in it - as soon as he is off the lead, Stuart runs straight to the bench and sits on it, like a grumpy old man, refusing to move. I have to put his lead on to get him off - but the moment he is off the lead, he just races straight back and sits on the bench again
He is starting to play in the house - but we have absolutely no idea what he is actually doing, as he will only do it when there is no-one else around! We have quite a long lounge, and we can hear him charging up and in there at times. But, no matter how quietly we try to sneak in, when we look around the door, he is always sat, innocently with a ‘Who, me?’ expression on his face
He has developed a bit of separation anxiety from me - but only when I am in another part of the house! He prefers the carpet in the lounge to the wooden floors in the hall and kitchen diner, so he lays at the threshold of the lounge, waiting for me and barks when he thinks I’ve been gone too long. If I actually leave the house, he isn’t bothered, and he doesn’t do this with anyone else in the family!
He is a funny old character, and we love him to bits.
Stuart is now well and truly embedded within our family. We would not be without him, and we have no regrets about welcoming this senior hound into our family. Would we do it again? Absolutely, without a doubt!