Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Meet Bobby! Our dog adoption story

At any one time over the last year, I could probably pretty accurately tell you the exact number of dogs on the Manchester Dog's Trust website.

We'd been refreshing the website dozens of times a day between us for probably the last 12 months, waiting for our dream dog.

We've grilled every dog owner we know (and some we don't!) about getting a dog, asked thousands of questions, googled hundreds of things, taken doggy pals for walks and signed up for Borrow My Doggy.

We knew we wanted a rescue dog, but we also knew this drastically lowered our chances of being able to get any specific breed, and also increased the risk of getting a dog with behavioural or medical issues, which we didn't feel prepared for as our first dog.

We also knew that our "dream dog" - 1-5 years old, medium/large sized, no huge behavioural issues - would be a lot of people's dream dog, so when a dog we loved did come up, we'd have to move fast and be ready.

But even though we'd be talking about getting a dog for months, we always had a reason to not get one right now. We had the wedding, then the honeymoon, then we both got new jobs in the autumn. So we decided at the start of 2020 we would continue to keep our eye out on the Dog's Trust, but we would seriously start looking after our trip to Barcelona in April.

And then, of course, lockdown started.

We spent a lot of lockdown bemoaning the lack of a dog - with us both at home all day we could spend time with the dog, we could take it on the walks we were going on regularly as our only form of entertainment.

But all the rehoming centres were closed, the Dog's Trust website wasn't being updated and we started to think it just wasn't going to happen to us anytime soon.

Then a few weeks into lockdown, the Dog's Trust website slowly started to add new dogs and unbeknownst to us, one of them would be our boy.

Why we adopted from Dog's Trust

We first visited Dog's Trust Manchester towards the end of 2019. We wanted to have a look around, see some of the dogs that were available and be sure of what our options were as two people who worked full-time.

We ended up visiting a few times before we actually got Bobby, and we knew that in our ideal situation we'd find the dog for us at Dog's Trust. They were really helpful, the facilities were lovely, the process to rescue seemed good, we loved all the after-care and support they offered after a rescue (which was extra important to us with it being our first dog), and they were happy for us to get a dog while working when we explained we would be getting a dog walker in during the day or taking him to doggy daycare.

When it came to the actual dog, we had a few breeds in mind which we were keeping our eye on - we liked spaniels, collies, labradors and any cross-breed of these. We wanted a medium/large dog which was active and up for lots of walkies and running, but more important to us was the dog's temperament.

Dog's Trust were always super upfront with us about any behavioural issues - there were a few dogs we went to see or had calls about which looked perfect on the website (I call it their "dating profile") but in when we spoke to Dog's Trust to get their full profile they had lots of issues which we would have struggled with as first-time owners. We always felt that Dog's Trust had the dog's best interests at heart and were always honest about any concerns.

We had visited other rescue centres, signed up for hundreds of Facebook groups for rescue dogs abroad and looked on loads of other websites, and were open to getting a dog from these places, but Dog's Trust was always where we wanted to get our dog from if possible.

Our rescue story

Bobby (as he is now known!) appeared on the Dog's Trust website on a Thursday afternoon. We loved that he was a lab cross (although he looked much more like a staffordshire bull terrier on the website than he did labrador!), sounded active and fun and was a good age for us. We phoned up to registered our interest and were told he was already reserved, but we would be added to a waiting list. We were disappointed but not surprised.

But then the following morning we received a call from Dog Trust - he was now available and were we still interested? Of course we were, so we had a call about his background to give us a bit more information, including some videos of him, and asked to complete a home questionnaire and send some photos of our house and garden.

(For context, this is not the usual process for rescuing a dog from Dog's Trust, but this is their protocol during lockdown. Normally you would be allowed to visit the dog in person and usually there is a home visit too, both of which aren't possible at the moment.)

After we sent the photos and questionnaire, things escalated very quickly! We had another call in the afternoon to confirm a pre-adoption call the following day, formalise our reservation, and to confirm if we could meet and greet him, and take him home (!), on Monday!

Friday was a bit of a daze, but on Saturday the reality started to sink in! We told both sets of parents and then went straight to Pets at Home to get some essentials. We'd asked how big he was and nobody had an exact figure, so getting everything from a bed to a Kong toy was guesswork, based on freeze-framing videos and guessing how tall things were in comparison! We had an amazing pre-adoption call too which gave us loads of extra information about him, plus loads of tips and advice on what to expect from the first few days which was absolutely invaluable.

At this point too, we still hadn't even met him, so we didn't tell anyone except our parents, and we kept the receipts for all the dog things we bought. We were so scared and excited but also so hopeful it would all work out.

On the Monday we had a call from Dog's Trust to confirm everything again, and at 4.30pm we arrived to meet him. We waited anxiously in the car for him to be brought out.

Then suddenly he appeared and it was love at first sight. Our brilliant, happy boy came over to say hello and he was even more amazing than we had expected! We had brought a long-line lead with us and we were taken to a secure area to play with him. He was a very excited boy with so much energy! Then we were left to play with him ourselves and it was so scary and exciting! I couldn't believe he was going to be our dog!

After half an hour of play we were asked if we wanted to take him home, and of course we did. We signed some paperwork and were told there would be a call the following day to finalise adoption, and then Bobby jumped into our car and off we went!

He was such a good boy in the car, and super excited when we got him home. In fact, we were a bit worried when he wouldn't stay still for 30 seconds the first night! When it was time for bed he cried and barked a little bit (and I had a panicked call to my Auntie who is our resident dog expert about what to do!) and then he settled down to sleep and slept all night til I came down the following morning.

The next day we had a final call with Dog's Trust to confirm his adoption and we paid his rehoming fee and he was our officially our boy!

Welcome home, Bobby!

I have so so SO much I want to say about being a dog parent, and it's only been a week. I'm not sure I was prepared for how exhausting it would be, how wonderful it would be, how guilty I would feel 99.9% of the time and how desperately confused we would be about "doing it wrong", but that is definitely a post (or many posts!) for another day.

For now, I am so so so grateful to Dog's Trust for bringing our amazing boy into our lives. They have been so helpful and continue to be brilliant and our boy is well and truly settled in already! I'm so happy we could give a dog a home, and that he has brought so much joy to our lives already! 

Welcome to the family, Bobby!

Charlotte x

Sunday, 7 June 2020

May Life Lately

Edit: I've had this sat in my drafts for a few days. So much of what I wrote now feels so ridiculous in light of the awareness the last few days has brought to many of us. I have to be honest in my woeful misunderstanding of how racist the world is, and I've spent the last few days learning and getting uncomfortable and vowing to do better. Thousands of people have put the way I feel into words better than I ever could, so I encourage you to find those people and those places (as a white woman, Gemma has been sharing some great resources on her Instagram). I should do better and I will do better. Everything here was done and written in May, so I'll be sharing more of the resources I've been reading and using in my next post. For now though, I want to highlight the importance of writing to your MP about the UK selling rubber bullets and tear gas to the USA, this charity who are fundraising for more diversity in publishing and diversity of stories we're telling, and this list of places to donate to.

Here's what I got up to in May (and here's my One Second Every Day for May).

Where I've been

Okay this title is a tiny bit misleading because, of course, I haven't really been anywhere really, but we did do a few nice walks. At the start of the month we walked from our house to Marple along the Middlewood Way and back along the canal which was really lovely, and Phil had a day off before the Bank Holiday so we drove to the Peak District and walked up to Mam Tor and did a 3 hour walk around the peaks. We are so lucky to have such beautiful places on our doorstep.

I also got to go somewhere that wasn't my house, my garden or the supermarket... for a blood donation! It was my 13th donation and I am so squeamish I can't even watch injections on TV (or fights, or any blood, or basically anything even vaguely gory!) and I look away the whole time, but I was very brave and extra careful to make sure I followed all the guidelines, and I was so glad I could give something back, especially now.

What I did

What I've been cooking and baking

I finally, finally made the baked gnocchi with mozzarella and basil from the original Roasting Tin. So many people had told me to make this seeing as I love all the other baked gnocchi recipes in the Roasting Tin books so I finally gave this a go. And wow. Wow. I'm planning to make this again this week. It's a shame I wrote my Top 10 Roasting Tin recipes too early. Hands down a new favourite.

As it's going to be a while before I can browse a cocktail menu, we decided to have a night making cocktails. We had a look in our cocktail-making books and found some recipes we could make without spending double figures on spirits and I made a batch of double-strength simple syrup. We didn't have a cocktail shaker but I can confirm a gimlet tastes just as good when it's been shaken in a takeaway coffee cup!

I've also been doing lots of baking - Rukmini Iyer's Rocky Road (which I talked about here), a simple lemon drizzle, a vegan banana bread from The Quick Roasting Tin when I realised I didn't have enough eggs to make the cookies I'd planned to make (I only had two bananas, walnuts instead of pecans and an orange instead of clementines but it was delicious) and Laura Goodman's super-thick homemade pizza from her book, Carbs, which is absolutely amazing.

What's been keeping me entertained

I'm currently obsessed with Mariokart as we now have a weekly Mariokart night on a Wednesday with an accompanying Zoom call. I am so bad that I always come last but it's great fun.
I finished my second cross stitch project and have just started my third one with a fourth on the way. I love putting on a podcast and having an hour or so of solitary stitching.

After months of being football-starved we now seem to watch basically every Bundesliga match and it's so nice to have football on TV, especially at the weekends.

I was obviously gutted when my half marathon, which was meant to be in May, was rescheduled. My last race was October 2018 but I took all of last year off with our wedding and honeymoon, and I was looking forward to a comeback (I'd also got up to 10 miles in training before it was called off). I've still been running as though I'm training (though not quite as far), so I jumped at the chance to sign up for Great Run Solo and signed up for 100km (62 miles) over 28 days. You complete the challenge of whichever distance you prefer (there were a few options, up to 280km (!)), pay a £10 NHS donation to enter and complete the challenge in the timeframe, and when you're done, you submit your evidence and they send you a medal in the post! Phil signed up too and it was great to have the motivation of each other to keep us going. I had a few rest days after giving blood and managed to complete my challenge on the 28th day and ran in total 65 miles (105km). I'm really excited for my medal!

To create the experience of missing our favourite festival, Buckle and Boots, we really enjoyed the Buckle and Boots live stream though throughout the weekend the festival should have been. It was the closest thing we could get to the real thing!

What's been keeping me going

Coursera courses are still giving something to focus on - in May I completed The Strategy of Content Marketing and The Science of Well-Being.

I've also gotten really into Behavioural Economics and have watched so many TED talks on the topic. I have loads of books about it on my to-read list and I'm hoping to do a course on the topic over the next few months.

Like everyone in the world ever, I know how good meditation is for you and I've been paying £5 a month for Headspace for at least a year but I've never managed to make it a regular habit. I am super proud to say I have meditated every single day now for over a month! At first it was a novelty, then I found it really boring and didn't see any benefit, and now I really feel like I'm starting to get it and feeling better as a result. I even practised a meditation while waiting to give blood and I really felt like it calmed me down! I really hope I can keep it up.

Finally, I've started tracking my moods through the day using an app called DaylioI'm finding it really useful to keep an eye on what is triggering my moods (which are all over the shop at the moment). I'm using the free version for now which seems to do everything I need but I'm weighing up getting the paid version in the future. I'm planning a series of blog posts about the apps and tools I use every day for organisation and my mood so keep an eye out for those.

What I read

Unsurprisingly, another big reading month, with 18 books read last month. 

Here's what I read in May:

The Glass Hotel
The Green Road
How the Light Gets In
The Hour I First Believed
The Book of American Martyrs
Nothing to See Here
Jesus' Son
The Rearranged Life of Oona Lockhart
The Lager Queen of Minnesota
The Blazing World
The Choice Factory
The Mothers
The Harpy 
Can't Even

After reading Animals over a day, I decided to embrace some longer books, so I tackled 740 pages of Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed, and then Joyce Carol Oates' The Book of American Martyrs (752 pages). The Hour I First Believed was good but nowhere near as good as Wally Lamb's I Know This Much Is True - one of my favourite books, but I loved The Book of American Martyrs - my first Joyce Carol Oates!

Other notable mentions - I adored Nothing to See Here, The Mothers and The Harpy.

As I mentioned earlier, I've gotten really into behavioural economics so I found the application to marketing in The Choice Factory fascinating and spent a few days reading that any making notes.

I finally properly started using Netgalley this month which I how I managed to read LusterThe Harpy and Can't Even (which I actually had preordered!). I've been a member since 2016 but only this month properly looked into what I needed to do for approval and I have loads of books on my shelf I can't wait to read. I definitely recommend it if you are an avid reader and blogger or reviewer.

What I've been watching

We finally finished The Americans! Ah, what a final season! We're now trying to consume every single piece of writing about it (surprisingly, not as much as we expected. Why aren't people watching The Americans?!). I keep feeling myself getting sad about how much I miss Philip and Elizabeth, and especially Paige (our favourite character).

In May we also started Killing Eve (you know what we're like for being about 3 years late for everything) and watched all of season 1. We really enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to starting season 2.

We've watched about half of Normal People so far - I really loved the book so I'm enjoying it coming to the screen (though it's makes me sooooo glad to not be a teenager anymore!) and like everyone else in the world, we are obsessed with The Last Dance.

How can I even talk about TV in May without talking about the Parks and Recreation special? Yes, I had a bit of a cry. I loved it so much.


In our "film club" in May we watched Red Joan, The Circle, Phantom Thread, Peanut Butter Falcon and The Farewell. The Farewell was my pick and I'm really chuffed because I absolutely loved it! I remember exactly where I was when I listened to the This American Life episode it was based on (way back in 2016).

We also watched Three Identical Strangers which I've wanted to watch for ages. I'm so glad it was on Netflix!

As I mentioned in April, we've had more time for rewatching films in lockdown which is something I don't do often. This month we rewatched some of our favourite films -
Silence of the Lambs, Inception, You've Got Mail, The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.


Ooh, a new category! Also in May we watched the National Theatre production of Frankenstein when it was available on Youtube. It was nice to watch something different and we really enjoyed it.

What I've been listening to

I'm on a bit of a podcast bender at the moment, which is hard because without my commute I'm struggling to squeeze them in.

We got really into the Slate Americans podcast while we were watching the final season - I wish we'd discovered it earlier and we loved the debate after each episode.

I've also been enjoying Decoder Ring, The Butterfly Effect, Brought to you by (formerly Household Name) and Uncover: The Village.

One-off episodes I loved in May - the Satisfied episode of Strong Songs and the episode of This American Life called On Delight - I can't recommend this more if you are feeling blue.

What I wrote

Hey, nice to see this category again! Here's what I wrote in May:

What I read online

I've recently become obsessed with both the Refinery 29 and Bon Appetit newsletters. I absolutely love seeing these drop into my inbox, so a lot of my links this month are from these sources!

Food and cooking
Health and Well-Being

Charlotte x