John Ham's first Shepherd was a bitch called Wanda. A friend rang to tell him about a man she had seen in a hotel bar with a long-coated Shepherd bitch that he was trying to "get rid of for the price of a beer". John went along and gave the man £5 for her, thinking "She's a lovely dog, but what am I doing? I've already got a collie!"
Whilst trying to find a good home for Wanda, John received a call from a man in Exeter who said he had heard about Wanda from a friend, who happened to be the local RSPCA Inspector. John took the dog over to where the man lived, and although he didn't like the look of the place, left Wanda with him.
A short time later John's worst fears were realised when he found out that Wanda had actually run off after about an hour. He checked with the local RSPCA Inspector only to find that he had never heard of the man and then John reported what had happened to the local police station.
The RSPCA Inspector told John that Wanda would probably "give herself up" in her own time, but that didn't stop John driving around Exeter looking for her - in fact, a total of 100 miles driving around Exeter! Wanda ran around the area for about a week before she did indeed "give herself up" to a couple who took her to the police station. The police got in touch with John and the rest, as they say, is history!
John went on to have a few more Shepherds after Wanda before he took his first Shepherd from us in 2004, by the name of Shadow. He wasn't the easiest of dogs - a big problem was that he wasn't used to being left alone and objected to John going out anywhere without him by snapping at his feet and growling. This was the reason he had been handed into the Charity. When his previous owners changed from working opposite shifts to the same shifts, the problems started and they weren't able to cope with his behaviour.
For John, the back door wasn't an option so, being a very resourceful person, he resorted to climbing through the bathroom window when he needed to go out without Shadow, only to find that Shadow was equally adept at getting out of the bathroom window too!
John's only other escape route was through the dining room window which he did for 3 - 4 months, telling Shadow every time that "I'm going out and I shan't be long". John says he was as good as gold after that and he had no more problems in this respect.
After losing Shadow in 2011, John had Sapphie from us, a lovely long-coated bitch who, like Shadow, wasn't an easy dog. Her big problem was one of agoraphobia and she liked nothing more than either being indoors, or in a car or a cage -she absolutely loved being in kennels - in fact anywhere apart from wide-open spaces.
John had the perfect garden for a dog like Sapphie which is totally enclosed and secure with no need to take her out and about for exercise. Sadly, Sapphie was only able to enjoy her home with John for just short of two years before her health left John with no choice but to have her put to sleep.
John then took Prince, a fabulous 10 year old male with a lovely nature, but as with Sapphie, their time together was all too short.
John truly loves his dogs and it isn't always easy to take on another dog when you lose them. It was going to be very hard to find John another older dog that didn't have issues, and the only one we had that would fit the bill in temperament was Deiter (pronounced Deeter).
We had been asked to help find a new home for Deiter - it was going to be a challenge because Deiter had been diagnosed with Anal Furunculosis about 15 months earlier. This is not a nice condition - it cannot be cured but can be controlled. The most commonly used drug is Atopica which is very expensive, but with the help of this drug dogs can, and do, lead normal lives, often for many years.
Deiter had been with his first owner since puppyhood, but when she had to go into care, her son looked after him. Unfortunately work commitments meant that he couldn't give Deiter the sort of home life he needed, which is why he got in touch with us. He realised he had only three choices - to carry on as he was, meaning Deiter would have to stay in the van for many hours some days, if not every day - or he could find Deiter a new home and fund the cost of the Atopica - or take him on a one-way trip to the veterinary surgery.
He realised a high-cost, pre-existing condition like Anal Furunculosis would put the majority of people off taking on such a dog, and because of this, he offered to fund the cost of Deiter's drugs if we could find him a good home.
As a charity we have, unfortunately, come across this condition a lot, so have a good knowledge and understanding of it. We couldn't make any promises but we would try our best to help. As we thought, most people just didn't want to know - apart from John. He was the only person willing to listen about the condition and what was involved, and to then consider offering Deiter a home if they got on together.
Well, they got on fabulously together and as with Wanda, the rest, as they say, is history!