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  • Chloe O'Sullivan

On Tour With the Kid | How to Save a Life

I was that child who would drag home every animal I found who needed a home. I’m sure it drove my mother crazy.


I would bring home injured birds and lizards; I adopted a feral cat who was living in the gutter. After a year, I finally got her to come into the house. She ended up giving birth in my bedroom, and I talked Mum into keeping one of the kittens. When we livedon the farm, we had Irish Setters (Red Setters) and German Shepherds (who were around before I was born). Once we moved into town, I had a sausage dog, then a Border Collie, then a brother and sister Kelpies, one of whom we still have who is 14 this year. All of those dogs we took in as rescues. Every one of them we had till they were no longer on the earth because that’s what you do.

Back in 2006, I lost the Border Collie I’d had since I was 15, and I was heartbroken. I didn’t think I could go through that again, and for the first time in my life, I didn’t have a pet for almost four years. Then one day, I got a call that this beautiful dog had been dumped off at the pound while she was pregnant, and a whole litter of puppies were in a foster home with mum waiting to be adopted. I went to visit and fell in love with the last two babies that were left and I didn’t have it in my heart to separate them. When they were ready to leave their mum, they became part of my family.

Two years later, after many years of hoping to be a mother, the kid finally came along. My mum wanted to make sure the dogs would be ok with the baby, so she came home from the markets with this secondhand doll, roughly the size of a new baby and got me to walk around with it in a baby carrier to get the dogs used to the need to be gentle. On a side note, we still own that doll, and 12 years on, we still call her practice baby. It obviously worked because both dogs were so gentle with the kid and just loved her from the moment we got home.

The only downside of how this all worked out is that the kid never experienced the joy of having a puppy. In January, at almost 14 years old, we lost Diesel, and I was in no way ready to commit to a new dog. In a weird twist of fate, through my job, I worked on a project with Dog Rescue Newcastle, and I came to learn about the amazing work they do, all completely volunteer based.

I also learned that they were screaming out not only for people to adopt but also for foster carers. I thought about it for months and finally decided that fostering might bring the best of both worlds. It would be company for my dog, who I knew was missing her brother, and the kid could get used to having a puppy.

We had no sooner made the decision than a 6-week-old staffy-cross puppy who was out of the pound needed to be collected that day. The day before the kid’s birthday. Just like that, Mackie came into our lives. People keep telling me that he is an apparent foster failure because we love him so much, but time will tell. All I can say is if you are looking to bring a dog into your home, please look at Dog Rescue Newcastle - at Mackie and the other gorgeous dogs on the site. Saving a life could change your life for the better and forever.

If you want more info about Mackie specifically, please reach out on the On Tour with the Kid Facebook page.


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