The Staffy Who Saved The Life of A Missing Shih Tzu

A heart-warming tale to start February of Fizz, a life-changing, life-saving Staffordshire Bull Terrier. His owner Ian Fergusson recounts Fizz’s amazing tale to Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary’s founder Pauline Leeson below.

Since we adopted Fizz, he’s been walked daily and most regularly as the Ashton Court Estate. His boundless energy and enthusiasm has enthralled us; equally, he’s grown extremely close to Tila – my partner Alexandra’s (Alex) gorgeous little Chihuahua cross – such that they’re now an inseparable pair who get up to all manner of mischief. Fizz has a wonderful disposition, much as was recognised by the staff at Holly Hedge Animal Sanctuary whilst in their care.

His amazing character was proven beyond doubt yesterday…

On 14 January, a walker lost a pair of female Shih Tzu’s, Honey and Poppette, as they roamed on the estate. Subsequently, efforts were made through  and local rescues to publicise their loss and leaflets / posters were placed widely around Ashton Court to focus search effort amongst other dog owners visiting there. We also became aware of their plight on a walk with Fizz and Tila the following day.

Then, on 17 January – as we walked our pair alongside woodland in the northern boundary of the Deer Park – Fizz spotted something. He bolted off, upon which we saw a small, fawn-colured and rather bedraggled-looking dog quickly appear from undergrowth, only to then vanish quickly back into brambles and woodland. Alex and I were in no doubt that we’d just seen Honey – one of the missing Shih Tzu’s. With Fizz and Tila’s help, we scoured the area for some 2 hours, having called the owner to attent and assist.

But to no avail. There was no trace of the cryptic missing pooch! We were very frustrated.

Days passed. Every morning, for at least an hour, Alex and I returned with Fizz and Tila to search diligently for Honey. Her companion, Poppette, was fortuitously found elsewhere in the Estate and safely returned home but Honey was nowhere to be seen.

Innumerable messages passed to-and-fro between those searching for her. We were very worried for her welfare. As cold, wet days came and went – coupled to some much colder nights (-5C on some occasions) – we would return to the comfort of home and wonder about her, lost out in the elements, alone and facing the foxes, badgers and other perils we’d seen on our walks.

In honesty, we progressively feared the worst for her, but never gave up hope. Fizz and Tila continued as ‘dog detectives’ every day, scouring the woods, brambles and un-trodden undergrowth with considerable effort and gusto. Every chased squirrel was a false alarm; every crackle we heard on the carpet of fallen leaves offered a short-lived
moment of hope…but nothing more substantive.

Then on 27 January, we walked again.

Exactly 10 days and nights had passed since we’d glimpsed Honey – ours had been the only sighting reported since she’d vanished. Undeterred, we walked again around the north of the park and this time, Fizz’s behaviour was distinctly different. He was purposeful, driven, clearly on a mission. We knew something was up….

Our walk was nearing it’s end. As we emerged from woods, aiming to head back to our car, Fizz refused to follow. He seemed insistent on heading off another way, so we followed. Moments later – in an area bordered by dense undergrowth and ponds – he started charging to-and-fro in a frantic, highly-energised manner we’d never witnessed before. Then, suddenly, he raced into the brambles….and we followed.

As Alex caught up with him, there – crouched entangled in thorns; utterly bedraggled, thin; her eyes firmly closed and temporarily blinded by ulcers – was Honey. She growled; then went still. She was found – and she knew it. Her demeanour swiftly changed; she willingly accepted Alex’s warm jacket interior to be cradled as a carry-cot, and finally we had her safe. Fizz, meanwhile, was clearly very proud of himself!

Shortly after some frantic calls, her owner met us and she was whisked-away to the vet. She’s now back home undergoing treatment for her eyes; spent last night asleep in front of a warm fire: finally safe and snug.

She’s a lucky dog: her condition, not least the blindness, would have quickly conspired to finish her as she had lost any ability to drink, eat or defend herself against predators and scavengers. There’s no doubt that after close to two weeks missing and alone, she’d have not survived much longer. It’s no exaggeration to say that this little dog owes her life to Fizz; how ironic that a rescued Staffy – himself once close to being euthanased prior to arriving into Holly Hedge’s care – has directly resulted in the rescue and survival of another dog.

In short, he’s our hero. We’re very proud of him!

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