In 2007, Dale Douglas adopted Crystal, a shy timid girl who had a hard start in life from our North Yorkshire centre. After a number of visits, Dale was able to gain her trust and found a companion and love that would last a lifetime. Sadly, Crystal passed away a few years ago after many happy years with her family.

Now Dale would like to share his story, in his own words, about the wonderful time he had with this quirky and loving girl…       

One afternoon I was watching the Paul O’Grady show and as often happens on Paul’s shows he was featuring several dogs who were struggling to find homes in rescue centres.

One of the dogs was a Jerry Green dog, a little Dachshund who had lost its sight. I’d already adopted a Lurcher (Minty) from The Dogs Trust several months previous (who was the most laid back dog you could come across!) and decided it was time for another. I looked at the Jerry Green website and discovered with some delight that the Dachshund had already been homed, but another dog caught my eye – Crystal. Crystal was described as very shy and timid and would need a lot of support from understanding owners. She had been in the centre for a year and was struggling to find a home due to her nerves around new people. The next day I called the centre and made an appointment to go see her. Crystal walking with Dale

Crystal arrived at the centre in a bit of a sorry state, the staff at the centre found her one morning attached to the gate very tightly by her collar, they said if she had been found 5 minutes later she would have suffocated. She also had a tattoo in her ear that was unreadable due to part of her ear being ripped off. From her condition it was thought she had been used in hare coursing as she was covered in barbed wire scars from wounds that they think had been left un-treated.

Understandably she was a very nervous dog, anytime anyone approached her kennel or run she would bark and run back into the kennel block. The team at North Yorkshire had moved her into one of the kennels around the back so she did not get quite so stressed by passers-by.

When I arrived for my visit I was warned that she would probably just run away as soon as we went round and sure enough she did. However, being the persistent type of person I am, I sat down outside of the run and started talking to her. After an hour or so she ventured out of hiding and sat as far away from me as she could.

After another 30 minutes I was able to take her for a walk around the paddock. This and the first few walks I had with her were spent with her as far away as possible from me on the lead. Near enough every day following our first meeting I went back to talk and walk Crystal around the paddock in an attempt to gain her trust.

After a few weeks of working with the staff and Crystal, we decided it was time to introduce her to Minty, and even my laid back Minty was a little confused as to why Crystal was so quiet and subdued! You can see in the picture Minty trying to encourage her to play on their first meeting. 

After nearly a month of going to the centre every day it was decided it was time for Crystal to come home with me and Minty. I bought her a new bed and took it to the centre for her to sleep on for a few days, so she would have something familiar when she came home with me.

Home time for Crystal

On the day I collected Crystal I remember it so clearly. We entered our home and I showed her where the garden was and I let her crystal and Minty standing together investigate. She decided that she was going to take up camp in the conservatory and no matter what persuasion was employed, she was not going to go anywhere else – even if food was offered she would take it and return to her spot in the conservatory!

Given everything was very new I let her do what she wanted and she slowly came out of her shell. One day I made myself a cup of coffee, put it down on the coffee table and nipped upstairs, when I came back there was no coffee left in the cup, and crystal was back in the conservatory. I could swear she had a smirk on her face!

Little did I know, but this was going to set the tone for the many years she spent with me. If Crystal decided she was going to do something or not going to do something, nothing in heaven or earth would change that view. She did come out of her shell a lot over the coming years and even got to the point of suffering the odd cuddle! She did learn to love being petted but was never really a cuddly dog, which suited Minty who wanted all the cuddles.

She soon learned that it was nice to sleep in the bedroom at night and on odd occasions would even try to wrestle bed room from Minty. She also got the rest of us trained to what she liked pretty quickly, if she wanted fuss she would have it and would often just stand and look at you till she got it. Conversely, if she didn’t want fuss and you tried to give her some she would walk off in disgust that you were daring to defy her wishes! She even tried to set bed time for us to adhere to. I think mostly because bed time meant biscuits. She was also a bit of a pack mother, she would stand and watch to make sure everyone was ok. Even when surrounded by my mother’s dogs she took over and became the mum of the group.  

Sadly, towards the end of her life she started to suffer quite badly with joint problems particularly in her rear legs, probably down to the way she was used and treated in her youth. Our wonderful vets tried all sorts of treatments and she was on some pretty strong painkillers, which eventually in late 2015 took its toll on her liver and we had to say goodbye to our wonderful Crystal as she went over the rainbow bridge.

Crystal’s legacy  

During her time with us she looked after us as much as we looked after her, and whilst everything had to be done on Crystal’s terms she enriched our lives greatly. There’s not a day goes by that she is not thought of and we often say “you wouldn’t get away with that if Crystal were here!”Portrait of Crystal by artist Mike Ramshaw

Recently I discovered an artist in Yorkshire called Mike Ramshaw. Mike is an avid dog lover and specialises in animal portraits, he creates both realistic and colourful portraits. I thought the unique colourful style was a little quirky and suited Crystal so I commissioned a portrait.

It’s now complete and I have to say it’s a wonderful piece!

When discussing with him how pleased I was with the finished piece, he asked if he could do a limited edition print run of her portrait with a percentage of the profits going to dog charities. I explained Crystal’s history and he agreed that not only would the charity to receive the donations be Jerry Green Dog Rescue, but that he would also donate one of the prints to the North Yorkshire centre for them to either display or use in a fundraising event. Crystal’s print has done so well it’s now sold out!

It is comforting to know that even four years after she has passed over the rainbow bridge, she is still doing her part to look out for other dogs that need help.

Thank you so much to Jerry Green Dog Rescue for introducing Crystal to us and rest assured that even those hard to home ‘sticky’ dogs with special needs, have a special home for them somewhere in which they will thrive and bring joy.

Dale Douglas