After more than 1,800 days and around five years, a pooch dubbed the 'UK's unluckiest dog' has found its forever home thanks to Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home.
Star, a seven-and-a-half-year-old Staffie, has spent most of his life living at the Seafield rescue centre after being found by police, tied up behind a derelict building in July 2013.
He showed signs of significant neglect, being greatly underweight and having nails so long they curled underneath the pad of his paw. It was clear to staff that this dog was lucky to be alive, so they named him their ‘lucky’ Star.
His story captured the hearts of millions through a desperate appeal to #FindStarAHome.
Over the years, the Home’s staff worked tirelessly to help Star recover from his physical ailments and heal his mental scars.
He was nervous around other dogs and children so, while other animals came and went to the rescue centre, Star continued to be overlooked.
In February this year, the Home launched an urgent appeal to find Star’s special someone.
READ MORE: UK’s ‘unluckiest dog’ needs new home after spending 5 years at Edinburgh pet home
Shared across social media, the appeal quickly went viral as media and celebrities promoted the search, including Hibs player Marvin Bartley, who visited the Home to have a kick around with the football-mad pooch, offering a personally-delivered Hibs shirt signed by the entire team to whoever took him home.
Many people came forward offering to take Star, however, they were not suitable due to his specific living requirements — a child and pet-free home.
That was until Graeme Webb, a professional photographer from Hawick in the Scottish Borders, heard about Star’s appeal.
“After seeing Star on social media, and seeing he was still available after thousands and thousands of views, I thought to myself, ‘why is no one taking him?’, so I decided I’d go and see him for myself. When I saw how happy and friendly he was, I decided he was the one for me,” said Graeme.
Following several visits with Star, the Home’s kennel staff were convinced it was a perfect match and so the rehoming process began.
The UK’s ‘unluckiest dog’ had finally found a family of his own.
“When he arrived ‘home’ he was a bit stressed, so that first night I slept on sofa and Star slept on his bed next to the sofa,” says Graeme. “Since then I've slept in my own bed and Star has claimed the sofa as his.
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“He settled in quite quickly really. After a few days, he was more relaxed, but he is still reactive to other dogs, so we've been avoiding them as much as possible. The only real issue I had was in my gallery where I have floor-to-ceiling windows. Star would react to dogs walking past and wouldn’t settle, so I bought some opaque window film and put it along the bottom of the windows. That instantly settled him down as he feels there is now a barrier between him and the other dogs.”
Earlier this year, Staffordshire Bull Terriers were named the nation's favourite dog breed, ahead of Labradors and Cockapoos, in an ITV poll of 10,000 Brits. Graeme agrees Staffies often get a bad rap, but says any animal can behave badly if mistreated. He’s committed to continuing the training staff were undertaking with Star while he was still at the Home.
“Star is such a friendly, happy, loving dog who wants company and cuddles all the time. Yes, he's strong and he does react to other dogs, but you just have to be aware of that and understand why,” he says.
“It’s a shame that whatever happened to him previously has caused him to react the way he does. It’s a case of understanding his needs and working with him. There's nothing like the greeting I get when I walk down the stairs in the morning.
“Eating is his favourite thing to do. He also loves playing with a football, so we are either out in the back garden, or we go to a freedom field close by, where he can run around as much as he wants off the lead.”
True to his word, Marvin Bartley returned to Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home last week to hand over the shirt to Graeme and say hello to his old four-legged friend.
“It’s amazing that Star has been rehomed. He’s got a home with a lovely guy, someone who thinks the world of him and he deserves it because he’s a great dog,” says Marvin.
“It’s a fitting end to my time at Hibs. Everyone knows that I love dogs, I’ve got one myself, so I am really happy that he has got a home after spending so long here.”
While grateful for the shirt, Graeme isn’t a football fan, and has kindly donated the shirt to Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home to be auctioned at a later date, to raise money for the animals still looking for their perfect match.
Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home Director of Operations/Deputy to the CEO, Lindsay Fyffe-Jardine said:“Everyone at the Home couldn’t be happier that Star has finally found his forever family. To see the way he looks at his new dad with such trust and love makes the long search for Star worth it.”
“Star is an example of our team’s love, passion and dedication to not only caring for him and training him, but in also finding him a forever home — this is an organisational-wide movement. Our never-ending pursuit when there is hope for a home is something that continues to inspire and move me.
“Star has finally been given the loving home that he always deserved but our work continues on with the many other dogs who are still waiting and yearning for their new family to walk through our doors. While they continue to need us, we will never give up.”
Despite not having been initially looking to rehome a dog, Graeme says Star has changed his life. He encourages others looking for a pet to seriously consider rehoming from a shelter such as Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home, where hundreds of lost, stray and abandoned animals come through the doors every year.
“Go, have a look, see the dogs and, if possible see them out of their kennels because some dogs can act differently outside. I never saw Star in his kennel, but I imagine he would be barking, being protective of his space, and that would put a lot of people off,” says Graeme.
“I'd also say it important to think of the needs of the dog and not just your want to get a dog. If you can provide what the dog wants, and you're a good fit, then visit a few times and build that bond. If you're unable to meet a particular dog’s needs, don't worry, there are plenty of other dogs needing a home.”