A book containing the innermost thoughts of a poo-rolling, Kindle-eating, fish-hiding, seafaring rescue Lurcher may not exactly be at the top of your ‘must read’ list. But it should be.
Worzel, or ‘Worzel Wooface’ to give him his full title, was adopted from Hounds First Sighthound Rescue by author Catherine Pickles. After starting a Facebook page to provide updates on his progress, Catherine soon found that Worzel – and his unique ‘voice’ – was a hit, and ‘The Quite Very Actual Adventures of Worzel Wooface’ was born: the book Catherine says she never meant to write, about the dog she never meant to have.
The book is 140 pages long and is presented in a diary-entry style, starting from the day that Worzel first arrived. Worzel’s hilarious narrative, often echoing the exasperated expressions from the ‘hoomans’ around him, consists entirely of his own take on English (“I is covered in mud and fox poo, HAND cow poo, and I is being quite actual cross with hanyone who finks they is going to change this state of affairs”). Far from causing difficulties in ‘actual understandings’ of the book, this somewhat peculiar writing style provides many of the laugh out loud moments – such as Worzel referring to ‘being tense’ as “tents” and my personal favourite “in The Nile” for ‘in denial’. He also thinks that the computer is named “Uff”, from the noise Worzel’s ‘dad’ makes when he sits down to play computer games and says “Uff, I’m knackered”.
There is a variety of other canine pals featured in the book, including foster dog Pandora, a Wolfhound cross Bullmastiff who is so huge even at four months old that she earned the nickname ‘Pandora the Fridge’. The fiery personalities of the family cats ensure that there is never a dull moment for Worzel, or indeed for Worzel’s mum who sometimes has to deal with “Distressed Mouses in Hawkward Circumstances” and a certain incident involving a dead squirrel and the kettle. But Worzel is undoubtedly the star of the show. The various vet trips which he has to endure are both amusing and painfully familiar for anyone who has ever had to struggle with an anxious dog on the examination table. When given some ear drops, he comments that “Sally-the-Vet did give the rest of the bottle to Mum, so I fink Mum must have gunk in her ears as well”. Worzel’s antics at home are just as hysterical, from leaving his rather too realistic-looking toy rat in the bathroom to burying half-eaten pieces of mackerel in his bed.
Yet hidden amongst all the giggles is the serious side of the story. Worzel is a rescue dog and is not without issues, taking 11 months to be able to play with Catherine, and refusing to engage in ‘normal’ dog behaviour such as eating food that has been dropped on the floor – something which the family think he was punished for doing in the past. In this sense, the book is a tribute to other rescue animals who may have not necessarily had the best start in life, but are now living life to the full thanks to the patience and efforts of their new families.
I for one think that Worzel truly is a “luffly boykin”, and can’t wait to read his next book.
‘The Quite Very Actual Adventures of Worzel Wooface’ (Hubble & Hattie, March 2016) can be purchased here.
You can follow his latest adventures at Worzel’s Facebook page or on Twitter @Worzel_Wooface
American Bulldog ‘Buster’ from Telford, Shropshire saved the day when he alerted owner Natalie Blake that her three year old son, Charlie, had become trapped in the cords from a window blind. Buster began to bark at Natalie’s bedroom door, and, knowing that the dog didn’t usually bark at night, Natalie followed him downstairs, and was met with the terrible sight of her son being strangled by the cord. Buster’s actions have since helped to change the views of the family’s friends who, prior to the incident, had had doubts about the breed. See the full story here.
This isn’t the first time that a ‘bully breed’ has saved a life. Rescue Staffie ‘Gypsie’ woke owner Nicky Hoad in the middle of the night, by urgently licking her face, before a fire in an adjacent bedroom was able to take hold. Gypsie’s actions meant that both Nicky and her daughter were not harmed by the smoke, and the fire was put out before flames were able to consume their home. For her bravery, Gypsie was awarded the title of “Hero Dog” by the Daily Mirror as part of the 2013 DogsTrust Honours. Nicky Hoad runs bull breed magazine “No More Lies”, a new monthly magazine showing the positive side to bully breeds not often shown in the media. For more details on the magazine, see the No More Lies Facebook page here.
It is a shame that the mainstream media choose to overlook wonderful stories such as these in favour of those that portray dogs in a negative light. According to Dogs Today magazine, in light of the Lexi Branson case the Daily Mail have been contacting both themselves and Wood Green Animal Shelters in search of stories of biting incidents involving rescue dogs. In response, Wood Green are asking supporters to share their successful rehoming stories. Organisations and pet owners around the country have long been accustomed to arguing the case for bully breeds, but an attack on rescue dogs as a whole could have a significant impact on the numbers of animals being considered for adoption, which is something that the ever-full rescue centres throughout the UK can ill-afford – particularly when there are so many bully breeds looking for their forever homes.