'The Girls' by Dick Twinney
After meeting the extremely talented and much admired, wildlife artist, Dick Twinney, at a craft fair in Cornwall, Dick has been kind enough to let me publish this beautiful lurcher painting, and a bit of background about his girls, three of the most beautiful lurchers, on my web site.
Dogs have always been part of our family and except for one they have always been 'rescues'. Ann and I are strong believers that unless you want a specific breed for a particular purpose, a 'rescue' makes the perfect family dog. Nowadays most breeds have their own rescue societies so you can even choose the type of dog you are looking for. We have always had Jack Russell terrier or Lurcher types, both 'breeds' open to definition and usually of mixed parentage but particularly suitable to our chosen way of life. We have never really bothered what sex our dogs are but have just taken what comes along at the time. Back in 1988 it just so happened we had all male dogs when I decided to paint a picture of them to be published to help raise funds for 'The Canine Defence League', now 'The Dogs Trust' the title of which was 'The Boys'. Now, all the years and different dogs later, I have painted 'The Girls', this time published to help the fund- raising for Greyhound Rescue West of England, the Society our latest dog, Della, came from.
'Misty' Gone but never forgotten
Misty came to us via a friend at the RSPCA. She had already been in three separate homes when she joined us at six months old. She was a whippet/collie cross, a popular combination for a smaller lurcher. To say she was a nervous wreck would be an understatement. She had obviously suffered from the 'heavy hand' treatment and would wet herself at raised voices and cower shaking if you as much as raised your hand to pick something up. However, being young she soon settled down when treated with kindness and a regular lifestyle. She immediately became our young daughter's special dog, sharing the luxury of her bed. Yes, she was spoiled in many ways but always obeyed our ground rules and was well trained and obedient after attending agility classes. Misty was a beautiful, gentle dog, the perfect addition to our family and loyal companion to our daughter, as she grew up, always quite happy to join in with everything she did including the indignity of even being dressed up on occasion.
We lost Misty in 2006 aged 15 years. She is sadly missed but we all have wonderful memories of her and we know she enjoyed life to the full when she became a member of our family after her bad start.
'Della' The new girl
What can I say about Della. She was picked up as a stray three-month-old puppy in Somerset and put in a dog pound there. Being a lurcher she was taken from there by Greyhound Rescue West of England. They do not just re-home greyhounds but other sight hounds such as lurchers and similar 'running dogs'. The GRWE is a specialist society geared to the special needs and type of home suitable for this kind of dog. They are always looking for new homes for retired racing greyhounds and abandoned lurchers. Della was found to be suffering from rickets, obviously due to what she had been fed on. She really looked a sorry sight with the bowed front legs typical of the disease. However, thanks to the skill and dedication of the GRSW vets and the correct diet, after a few weeks Della was well enough to be re-homed. Being a lovely looking young dog with the most soulful eyes she was soon found a home. Unfortunately, things did not work out and her 'forever home' only lasted a few weeks before she was returned to the GRWE where she found herself once again at their rescue centre near Newton Abbot in Devon. As we had lost Misty some months previously and Emmylou was obviously missing a running mate, we alerted the GRWE Rehomimg Officer for Cornwall to help find us a 'special' dog who would be suitable to live with us here in Cornwall and fit in with our somewhat different life style. 'Special', certainly sums up Della, after all she had suffered, through no fault of her own. She is a most loveable, imperturbable and adaptable dog who has certainly livened up our household with her never-ending energy and puppy playfulness. Della is loved by all who meet her and in keeping with this type of dog always tries to please, in her own time of course! Although it has not been long it is a privilege and pleasure to give Della her 'forever' home. Long may she run.
'Emmylou' Loyal companion
As with many rescue dogs, we do not know anything about Emmylou's early years apart from what we have deduced from her behaviour and the condition she was in when we first had her. It was very obvious from her badly scarred and underweight body that she had been very badly treated and not fed correctly.
She was found lying by the side of the road near Roche in Cornwall, with her left eye badly injured. After emergency veterinary treatment, which meant the removal of the damaged eye, she ended up at the RSPCA Centre near St Columb Major. We read about her plight in the local paper and went up to see her and possibly offer her a home. Due to her operation she was fitted with a head bucket, was very thin and in very poor condition generally and to top it all was suffering from kennel stress. We took her for a short walk to see how she would react. She walked perfectly and was quite happy to go with us so a unanimous decision was made and because of her kennel stress we took her home straight away. Emmylou, who was thought to be between 3 and 4 years old, settled in at once, responding quickly to love and kindness, although it would be several years before she would lose the various hang-ups inflicted on her from her previous existence. She would not play with other dogs and was nervous of certain people. On walks off the lead she would always stay close, even on the open beach. Now she is completely settled with a thick luxuriant golden coat, gentle and sociable with people and other dogs, a fantastic companion, accompanying me on field trips and camping expeditions. She is also making up for her lost years by being 'a born again puppy'.
Re-homing a previously ill-treated or rescued dog not only gives you a faithful friend but an immense 'feel good factor' in knowing your dog now has the full life it deserves and not merely an existence or shortened life brought about through no fault of its own.
Dick Twinney, St Columb, Cornwall
To enquire about buying a copy of this painting visit the Dick Twinney web site.