Posted 2 months ago ago
by Caroline Abbott
A man who volunteers at the rescue centre from which he adopted his beloved dog Flash has said he plans to do it forever, after making a promise in Flash’s memory.
Carl Egan and his wife Emma, from Darwen in East Lancashire, adopted Flash when the greyhound/Saluki cross was five years old.
Carl, 41, had always had greyhounds or lurchers in his family but Flash was the couple’s first. He and Emma, who have been married for 11 years, are childfree by choice. Carl said: “When we adopted Flash, he immediately became a huge part of our lives and was such an important part of our family.”
Flash arrived at RSPCA Lancashire East, just outside Accrington, in a “shocking” state. Carl said: “He was extremely underweight and it broke my heart to see him and the other dogs who he had lived with. I knelt down to him to say hello and he surprised me by giving me kisses and buried his head in my chest for a cuddle. It always amazes me how forgiving they can be. Of course, I wanted to walk him so I made sure I went to the centre the following weekend and asked to walk him. We fell in love with him immediately.
“He was very quiet when we walked him at the centre and was very concerned when it came to food which wasn't surprising considering how badly he had been treated. The rescue centre did an amazing job getting his weight up slowly and showed him such care and love to earn his trust.
“I'll never forget the look in his eyes when he arrived home with us. So many toys, comfy beds, treats and cuddles! He was home to stay and we promised him that it was forever. We started to help him through his past traumas. He would sometimes wake in a panic so I would lie next to his bed to reassure him that everything was OK. With lots of love, patience and care we helped him through.”
Carl, Tinker and Flash (Image: Carl Egan)
Flash had lots of new friends, including his parents’ rescue lurcher, Spider. His best friend was a Chihuahua named Tinker who Carl found abandoned and his parents-in-law adopted. Carl said: “They were so different but such good friends. Flash was so sweet and would happily share toys, treats and his bed with his little friend.”
Flash also had some more unusual friends. Carl said: “When we moved into our current home, Flash made a very unlikely friend of a peacock who we named Ricky. Ricky lives in some nearby allotments and regularly visits our garden. When he first turned up, we had no idea how Flash would react to Ricky and vice versa but much to our surprise – apart from an initial attempt to play with Ricky – Flash would happily plod around the garden near Ricky and they didn’t bother each other in the slightest.
“When lockdown started last year, I set up the Facebook page ‘The Adventures of Ricky Peacock and Friends’ to cheer people up and Flash captured so many hearts with his friendship with Ricky. When Flash passed away we had so many beautiful messages from people saying how much he made them smile through very difficult times. I once caught Flash stealing raspberries from my bushes and then later found Ricky doing the exact same thing!”
As Flash was a rescue dog, Carl and Emma wanted to give back to the centre who cared for him, so they took Flash on a number of charity walks. Carl even went on BBC Radio Lancashire to raise awareness about adopting rescue dogs.
“Flash loved the attention from all the people who were delighted to have a dog in the studio and in true greyhound fashion, fell asleep under the desk while we were on air,” said Carl. “We also attended charity events with our local greyhound rescue group.”
Carl and Flash had many adventures together, including walking the Pennine Moors and going on early morning walks to spot the local wildlife.
Carl said Flash was his best friend (Image: Carl Egan)
He said: “He was my best friend, partner in mischief and our love was unconditional.
“After eight-and-a-half amazing years together, Flash passed away at 13-and-a-half years old. He had a cancerous lump removed a month before he passed but unfortunately it had spread. We made his last few weeks perfect for him. He had his favourite meals, he went for his favourite walkies and he had so much love and cuddles. He was like a puppy at times and wanted to play and do zoomies or just cuddle with me on the sofa. It was only on his final day that it was clear that it was time to let him pass gently. It was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make but it was absolutely the right thing to do.
“Losing him broke my heart and the grief is hard to handle sometimes but the way people sent their love has showed me that not only did he mean the world to me, he also touched hearts all over the world. He gave so much joy to so many people and certainly changed my life forever. I made a little promise in his memory that I will try to help as many dogs as possible at the rescue centre and to help them find their forever homes.”
Carl has volunteered at RSPCA Lancashire East since attending an open day there in 2010. He said: “My family had adopted dogs from there and I had never been in the kennel area before and it was a life-changing appearance.
“Seeing so many dogs needing loving homes shocked me and I felt like I had to help in some way. So I asked about becoming a volunteer and started walking the dogs once I'd done some necessary training.”
Carl goes there virtually every weekend and spends the morning walking the dogs, usually for around four hours.
Carl said: “As I got into it a bit more I wanted to do a bit more and started taking out the dogs that had been badly treated. They were often afraid of men and needed lots of time to be able to trust people. I studied for my diploma in canine behaviour and I have put that knowledge into practice with the dogs. It makes me so happy to gain the trust of a dog that previously didn't trust me.
“There is a whole lot of emotions you go through when you are a volunteer. You feel angry when you hear the stories of what the dogs have gone through, you feel sad when you see the physical and emotional scars. There is a sense of relief that they are safe and cared for.
“But nothing comes close to the absolute joy you feel when you see their journey come full circle and they go off to their forever home with a family who you know will love them.
“I'm completely hooked on doing my volunteering and I plan on always doing this. I plan on being the old man walking the old dogs and still getting as much joy from it as I do now.”