A local rescue lurcher and his family have entered a national award celebrating the powerful bond between dogs and their humans and hope his story flies the flag for rescue dogs everywhere.
Their heartwarming story showcases the incomparable impact a dog can make on a family’s and community’s emotional, mental and physical health.
The annual Woof & Well Award, launched by health-led pet food company, Vet’s Kitchen, is now in its third year and aims to recognise the unique contribution dogs have made to their owners’ and others’ mental health and physical wellbeing.
Tracey Ison, 53 and her husband Paul, 57, from Hinckley, adopted 13-year-old Scout as a puppy after he was found abandoned on the streets in County Durham and in a critical state. He was emaciated, suffering from mange and had kennel cough. He was also thought to be both blind and deaf. If this was the case, it was felt it would be kinder to put him to sleep.
Scout was assessed by GALA (Greyhound and Lurcher Aid) and Lancky Dogs who discovered he was completely blind but not deaf. It was then decided to give Scout a fighting chance and he was transferred to East Midlands Dog Rescue where he made a full recovery thanks to the tireless efforts of the volunteers there. Shortly afterwards, Tracey and Paul offered Scout his forever home.
“Thanks to the heroic efforts of three amazing rescue organisations, Scout’s life was saved and he has turned our world upside down,” says Tracey. “Scout is completely blind, but this has not held him back in the slightest. Scout has climbed mountains, has paddled in the sea and runs freely with his canine friends.”
Scout has been on a life-long mission to give back to his family and community as a much-loved therapy dog and local charity mascot.
“Scout gave me my life back,” explains Tracey. “After my first dog was tragically killed by another dog on a walk, I developed severe anxiety about walking outside but owning Scout meant I had to be strong to be his eyes. He needed me to be confident and unafraid, to keep him safe.”
As a therapy dog, Scout has regularly visited Saffron House in Barwell, a local dementia care home, where he has become a firm favourite. Residents’ faces light up when Scout enters the room and his presence prompts some to recall fond memories of dogs they once owned.
“Scout’s world may be shrouded in darkness but he brings the brightest of lights into his every day and the lives of those he meets,” continues Tracey. “He is a kind and gentle soul with so much patience and has an uncanny ability to seek out those in need. His calm and gentle nature instantly puts people at their ease.”
Whitestone Community Carers Café, a local social prescribing project to improve mental health, invited Tracey and Scout to give a talk about the work of a therapy dog and Scout subsequently became their adopted mascot, even attending their armchair yoga classes.
Over the years, Scout has helped to raise thousands of pounds for East Midlands Dog Rescue, attended meet and greets, street collections and offered a paw on tombola stalls. Even during lockdown, Scout managed to raise £500 for East Midlands Dog Rescue by fronting an online dog show. Scout has also attended Crufts several times, supported anti puppy farming campaigns and even helped to launch a charity foundation for Dorwest Herbs.
Scout has also been invaluable in rebuilding Tracey’s sister’s confidence following the traumatic loss of one of her eyes.
“Having to wear an eye patch whilst waiting for a prosthetic, my sister didn’t want to go out, feeling that people would stare at her,” says Tracey. “I suggested she take a walk with Scout, after all, he goes about his daily business without a care in the world even without his eyesight. She took me up on that offer and that walk changed everything for her. With Scout at her side, she held her head high and faced the world head on.”
“Scout is my inspiration, my hero and my best friend and although he is an older boy now and takes things a little easier, he has still kept a cheeky glint in his eye,” says Tracey. “I would love Scout to be recognised for all that he has done, not just for me but for so many others whose lives he has touched.”
Scout has been shortlisted for the 2023 Woof & Well Award and the winner will be announced during the first week of August.