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This is Mary: part one

In 2009, in a waiting room at Battersea Dogs Home, we were introduced to a crusty eared, poorly Staffy with Battersea’s unique strand of kennel cough. She was brought over to us feeling very sorry for herself in her poorly state, and sat quietly with her head in my husbands lap, ears being stroked, as we chatted to the staff member.

This is Mary. 'Mary?!?', we said.

Well, with a disarming name like we just couldn’t bring ourselves to change it. She’s such a Mary!
Once she was better, we finally took her home for good on bonfire night, where she snuggled on the sofa with me, tucked between my legs. I thought she might be afraid of the fireworks, but as it turns out she’s a glutton for snuggles.

So that was it, we were Mary’s forever people. We knew nothing about her previous life, but as far as we were concerned it was a clean slate.

Things we quickly learnt about Mary:

  1. She loves to cuddle. Simply to have a hand on her head or to lean against your leg is all she needs. She’ll even give you a few nudges if you’ve stopped stroking.

  2. She loves to eat! My goodness, there aren’t many things in this world that Mary WON’T eat. Lemons, “No, thanks!”, says Mary, although she’ll give it a lick or two just to make sure. Lettuce, “I’ll give it a go”, says Mary but then she doesn’t really know what to do with it once it’s in her mouth. Grass, a light snack while out on a walk or taking a jaunt into the garden. Carrots, “Yes Please!”. Fox Poo, an absolute delicacy apparently. Cow pat, is it a drink, is it shake, is it food? Who knows, but she loves it.

In the early days, the odd fox poo here or there was only offensive for the moment we saw her eat it. Give her a drink and any offence was gone. I think living on the mean streets of London had given her a stomach of steel! Nothing seemed to faze her or make her ill. 9 years later and we now have a greying Mary, as emotionally needy as ever but much more delicate when it comes to her stomach and sometimes she can be laid up for 4 to 5 days if she’s eaten something nasty in the fields surrounding our home. No matter how much you try, there’s always a sneaky nibble here or there when you’re too far away to stop them.

Mary has a routine. Maybe it’s her age, maybe it’s because she’s a dog, but she loves to visit certain village shops where she knows she’ll get a fuss (and a treat!). Taking a long walk into the fields ending up in the village to run some errands, Mary can’t walk past the greengrocers without holding her ground and steering us towards it, her favourite shop. They know her by name and she always gets a carrot. Sometimes there’s even a little bag of carrot ends with her name on it, waiting for the next time we pop in. Next, the walk past the local booze shop and another tug into where she knows we’ll occasionally let her have a little gravy bone. A sly sniff and maybe even an attempt at a nibble on the goodies stacked on the shelves outside the local pet shop. Then, a quick pop into the co-op where she sits outside, patiently waiting for us to come out again, all the while people stopping to say “hello Mary” and give her a stroke as they walk by.

As she has gotten older, what we feed her has become much more of an issue. She’s a heavy dog. Not overweight, but Staffies tend to be heavy, muscly dogs and over the years the running, chasing, bounding and jumping are starting to take their toll on her legs. We give her a special joint vitamin every day which certainly seems to be doing the job and freeing up those joints for our jaunts across the fields. It’s her main food where we struggle.There’s always a cost implication, whatever your budget, but for us it has been important to feed Mary the best quality food we can find. She has this delicate stomach nowadays, and it’s important for us to give her the right nutrients for her age but to help her when she’s overindulged on nature’s ‘pootiful’ bounty. We find that a mix of mostly wet food, with a little sprinkling of dry on the top helps with her digestion and (too much info alert!) poo consistency as far as her own comfort goes. She needs the right balance of nutrients for an ageing doggy...The ageing, poo eating, needy dog called Mary, simply because Battersea said that was the next letter in the alphabet when she was brought in. Perfect timing!

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