For animal lover Marj, the idea that someone might steal your dog was not a thought that had ever entered her mind, and it posed a phenomenon she was completely unaware of… until it happened to her.
A few years ago, just as beguiling Pugalier pup Rufus had cemented his place in her heart, he was stolen, never to be seen again. He had been just a few months old when he was taken, and searching high and low through shelters and pounds yielded no results. In her grief and her surprise at losing her dog so suddenly, getting another was the last thing on her mind.
But thanks to some gentle cajoling from friends and family, Marj was eventually persuaded to start searching again for a pet to share the joys of life with. It seemed an obvious decision to her then, that her next pet would have to be a shelter animal – little knowing that she was about to make an incredibly special bond.
When she first saw the sleek, black pup she has since named Missy Elliott, their eyes met, and a furry paw poking out under the kennel door was soon enclosed in Marj’s own hand.
“Our paws touched!” laughed Marj.
And her mother has since grown fond of reminding her of that special day when a young woman and a dog forged a special connection.
“It’s hard to know what it was looking back,” Marj said “but we instantly connected.”
Missy was about three months old when she went to settle in with Marj in 2005, and the pair has firmly bonded together through life’s ups and downs.
“She was house trained and already so well mannered when I got her,” said Marj. “She was a real lady.”
But just like a real lady, Missy has her own contradictions. Despite her impeccable manners, she has always had an anxious side and Marj has worked hard over the years to help her overcome it.
“She is a bit highly strung,” Marj admitted.
After her initial puppy training with the Home’s Planet K9, Missy proved her intelligence and obedience were no issue, but her tendency to stress never really left her. Despite every effort to help her dog feel safe and secure, Marj said that she has come to a point where she simply has to embrace the fact that her pet has her own idiosyncrasies.
“She has her quirks but also so many other good points; she brings so much joy that I just love the whole package.”
While Missy can be timid if not approached gently, she does enjoy a full doggy-life. While Marj works, Missy enjoys a lot of time in a sort of ‘dog-sharing’ scheme with other friends and family. She relishes her home on the beach near Middle Park and time spent running around with her swimming-mad Labrador friend Nellie ensures the slightly water-shy dog gets her feet wet.
She also loves her days out with dog walkers from ‘Bark in the Park’. Marj said she’s often out for a good chunk of the day, which has helped her to get comfortable with being away from ‘mum’ and with the smells, sights and sounds of the outside world.
When Missy first arrived, Marj said she took some weeks mulling various names for her leggy pup, but none fit. When a friend suggested Missy Elliott, she decided it sounded just right, and it seems her pet has lived up to it. For a dog so smart and sassy, with more than a few diva-like qualities, Marj said a name with a touch of fame has proved very fitting.
And despite Missy’s lack of confidence, Marj said there are absolutely no regrets.
“She gives me an enormous amount; she’s so loving and so gentle, and good with little people; nephews and nieces and cousins.
“It gives you a really good feeling, when you think what might have been, to know that you’ve given a dog a second chance.”