On Monday 16th March my wife (Pam) and I had to make the difficult decision to have our Border Collie Meg put to sleep. Meg had a poor start to her life, having to live with a cruel farmer somewhere in the North of England (location withheld for legal reasons).
Meg had become a problem dog and frequently escaped the farm, only to return to face a near starvation diet and frequent beatings (verified by damage to teeth and arthritis). After numerous complaints from local people the farmer was threatening to shoot Meg. However, a very brave old lady who lived locally decided to rescue Meg and removed her from the farm and sent her far away to the Grinshill Animal Rescue Centre in Shropshire. Meg was never reported as missing.
On one fateful Sunday evening in April 2007, Timmy Ten Bellies and I were climbing at Grinshill. While our wives (Pam and Maz); walked Maz’s three dogs and Megs soon to be lifelong friend – Freddie the Jack Russell (mother-in-laws dog) around Grinshill.
When dogs arrive at Grinshill they are taken for a walk in the woods before being bedded down and fed. This is where Pam, Maz and the dogs first met Meg. Her fate was sealed – she was coming home with us. As it was a Sunday evening we had to wait until the next morning before contacting the centre, but after home checks and a brief time in kennels Meg came home with us.
It was then we found her major passion – football. She was a hit with the local teenagers for her ability to chip and head balls and she even made an unscheduled appearance at a local Sunday league match where she was met with nothing but praise from the fans and players.
Having never slept in a house Meg quickly adjusted to sleeping at the bottom of our bed and Pam walked her for miles during those first few weeks as Meg adjusted to life in Dawley. Her coat also started to grow and we discovered we had a glorious rough coated Collie. There was also a final surprise – Meg went into season. Jenny at the rescue centre couldn’t believe this as Meg’s rescuer had paid the farmer to have Meg spayed a number of years previous. It now appears he pocketed the cash believing the dog would never live long enough for anyone to know.
Meg grew into a fantastic dog; she became a real companion as I trained to become a Hill and Moorland Leader. When Pam and I travelled the country to gain experience on the hills, Meg would always accompany us and has climbed hills and mountains all over the UK. We often joked if we knew the farmer’s address we would send him a postcard from Meg. Meg got to sleep in nice hotels and had afternoon tea at some of the better establishments throughout Britain – while the farmer still wallowed in his own filth.
In her final years Meg suffered a number of episodes of Canine vestibular and possibly a stroke at Christmas. In addition to this she started to suffer from dementia and her arthritis started to impede her mobility. Despite the best efforts of some wonderful vets at Wrekin View Veterinary Practice, old age overtook Meg and she reached that awful point when owners have to decide what is best for the animal. So she was finally put to sleep with dignity by Rob the vet.
As a result of all the years of pleasure and unquestioning companionship Meg has given, I will be taking part in the London Surrey 100 mile cycle ride this summer and will be raising money for Grinshill Animal Rescue Centre. Donations can be made using the sponsor bade above or at https://www.justgiving.com/andrew-rudge1/