Barney: the love and life of a rescue dog


Let me tell you about Barney. Barney is a rescue dog from Spain. We (which is myself, husband and two sons) rescued him from a place that was known locally as the ‘Killing Station,’ but I will refer to it as ‘the pound’, because, to be honest, I just can’t bear to call it by its local name.

Barney had never been indoors, he had never chased after a ball and, going by the state of him, had not been treated very well at all. He had bruises all over his body and dermatitis, which the vet said was from stress. When he had been dumped outside the gate at the pound, they had to cut off a rope around his neck that was so tight his skin was growing around it.

We first saw Barney on a Facebook page that a wonderful charity had set up to try and re-home these poor dogs, before the inevitable happened. It was love at first sight. He looked so small and scared. The note underneath his picture stated that the other dogs would pick on him and push him out of the way, so he struggled to get any food. He was sad, lonely and had a fresh cut on his ear where he had been bitten by another dog. We arranged to go and visit him as soon as possible.

I don’t think I have ever seen such a sad, frightened dog, but he was quite happy to let us stroke him, and take him for a little walk.

When we arrived at ‘the pound’, we were greeted at the gate by the wonderful lady from the charity, and once we were through the gate, the enormity of the problem in Spain was only too obvious. We had walked into a large yard which was just overrun with dogs. So many different kinds; there were many different breeds, of all shapes and sizes. Some of the dogs came bounding over to us, barking and wagging their tails, wanting to be stroked and made a fuss of.

We tried our best to stroke all of them but there were so many, and we just didn’t have enough arms. Upon having a quick glance around we noticed that there were also many other dogs that were sitting on their own, hiding in the corners and behind any bits of shelter they could find; too timid or scared to come over to say hello; this is where we would find Barney. As soon as we saw him, we knew we had to bring him home. I don’t think I have ever seen such a sad, frightened dog, but he was quite happy to let us stroke him, and take him for a little walk.

We had to leave him there that day, which was heart-breaking, but as soon as he had been vaccinated and neutered (which was an essential part of the adoption procedure), we picked him up to start his new life.

Rescue dog Barney

The day we brought him home, he gingerly climbed up onto the sofa and slept for a whole day. From day one he loved being close to us and having cuddles. He loved everyone who came around to see him. He never barked or growled, although, sadly, I suspect that was because no one had ever taken any notice of him before.

When we brought Barney home in 2010, he was approximately 3 years old (the vet had to make an educated guess). He is now 12 years old and is still the same beautiful, cuddly boy he has always been.

Barney does still have some struggles; he doesn’t like loud noises. Fireworks and the crackles of a fire make him nervous, causing him to seek comfort from one of his humans. He will jump if someone sneezes loudly or if something is dropped onto the floor. He will even shake and cower if anyone picks up an object that he doesn’t like the look of; which includes, the broom and a rolled-up newspaper.

Barney has brought so much joy to our family; we couldn’t imagine life without him.

It is unimaginable what this poor dog must have been through. However, there is much that is positive. He absolutely loves chasing the ball (we had to teach him). He loves going for walks, which take ages as he loves to sniff everything. He loves other dogs, and surprisingly, cats! He will often play with his cat brother and they regularly curl up together in his bed. He loves everyone, and everyone loves him. Barney has brought so much joy to our family; we couldn’t imagine life without him.

I know not everyone has a story like ours. Some dogs are so damaged by their traumatic past that it is almost impossible for them to ever trust a human again, making it difficult for them to be rehomed; however, I implore anyone who is considering inviting a dog into their family to please take a look at your local rescue centre.

There are so many dogs desperate to be loved and looking for their forever homes. It is highly likely there will be one suitable to be part of your family and the amazing staff at the rescue centre will do everything to ensure a perfect match is made.

This is a guest post by Sarah Donovan. Want to write for us? Visit or email


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