One dog the founder manager at Mellerstain, Mary Thomson, remembers was Fergus, a West Highland Terrier found in Ferguslie Park (hence “Fergus”) who came with a bad reputation –he had bitten people – and a worse skin condition.
Vets wanted the dog behaviourally assessed before treating him so as not to waste the charity’s money on an animal that might not be turned around. But thanks to Mrs Thomson and the Mellerstain team, Fergus was successfully retrained and rehomed in Wick.
In 2009 a re-homed Dalmatian from the centre went on to become a star sniffer dog for the prison service in County Durham.
And a rescued cat immortalised in paint brought an unexpected windfall. Between Christmas and New Year in 2008, a long-haired, obviously pedigree, cat arrived at Mellerstain from West Linton. It was microchipped and staff traced the artist owner in Edinburgh.
Mrs Thomson told us at the time: “The poor woman was crying with happiness, she could hardly talk. He’d gone missing in September and somehow ended up in West Linton.”
The owner later held an exhibition in London, including a painting of her cat. She sold the piece for “a lot of money” and made a significant donation to the SSPCA.
Another time the centre helped four wild Japanese Akita puppies saved from being hunted for sport on a rubbish dump near Airdrie. The pups’ mother was too wild to retrain and had to be put down but the three-month-old puppies went through a special training course with the Mellerstain team and all found homes.
Another success story was recalled by local MSP Christine Grahame, who supported saving the centre in 2003. She was told of a dog nobody had wanted because it suffered from severe separation anxiety. Ms Grahame told our sister paper, The Berwickshire News, at the time: “The centre eventually found someone to take it who suffered from agoraphobia. It was a marriage of animal and person made in heaven.”