Rescue Me: My Life with the Battersea Dogs

4.16 avg rating
( 105 ratings by GoodReads )
 
9780091930158: Rescue Me: My Life with the Battersea Dogs

Melissa Wareham always wanted to work with dogs. After failing her biology O-level she realised she’d have to start at the bottom, cleaning out kennels at Battersea Dogs Home. From frail old men looking for a four-legged companion to famous folk who've lost their favourite hound, it seems that at some point everyone passes through Battersea's doors. Amongst the clamour of thousands of lost pets crying 'Rescue Me!' and the noise of the railway lines above, Melissa found she had come home. The first dog Melissa fell for was Tulip, a sweet, elderly and somewhat dotty mongrel who decided a solo bus ride into the West End might be fun. Next up was Roscoe: found by the ambulance team with his dead owner, he is rehabilitated with a little help from his master's hat. And then – many, many dogs later – there is Gus. With his owner in jail, Melissa finally finds the dog she is to take home as her own. Heart-warming and compulsively readable, Rescue Me is Melissa's memoir of her fifteen years at Britain's most-loved dogs' home.

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Review:

"Moving" ( Mail on Sunday)

"Amusing and candid" ( Daily Express)

"A well-written and riveting read 9/10" ( Your Dog)

"Heartwarming" ( Time and Leisure)

From the Author:

Having never written anything before, I am somewhat of an accidental author and didn't really intend for my Battersea memoirs to become a book. Life is funny like that.
Rescue Me is an account of the 15 extraordinary years I spent at the world's most famous dogs' home.

After receiving an expensive education, my parents are horrified when I announce that I am not going to university. Instead, I have decided to become a kennel maid and work with dogs, my lifelong passion. They are not `animal people' and are highly unamused, in fact, we almost come to blows over it.

I begin Battersea life at the bottom, cleaning out, feeding and walking the dogs. Never having had any previous dog experience, I find myself on a steep learning curve but gradually work my way up the ranks to become a member of the Rehoming team, interviewing members of public that wish to adopt a Battersea dog. Ultimately I become Battersea's Rehoming Manager and due to my confidence in front of television cameras, I also unwittingly become the media `face of Battersea'.
My time at this unique establishment is an emotional roller coaster - I witness abject cruelty and hopelessness, heart-warming optimism and euphoria. I see a never-ending conveyer belt of dumped, destitute dogs but much more than this, I experience countless uplifting and inspiring moments every single day.

At Battersea I deal with an extremely diverse set of people, from celebrities and royalty to ordinary people and those down on their luck and it is at this remarkable dogs' home that I learn more about human nature than anywhere else. It is not long before I also come to see that dogs have the ability to bridge all social and class divides like nothing else.
Some of the dogs that feature in my story come into Battersea as broken, shell-shocked wrecks, some as bolshy, over-confident biting machines but most are just loveable rogues that find themselves lost or abandoned. The work that goes into rescuing, reuniting, rehabilitating and rehoming them is phenomenal; almost as amazing as the people that come to offer them their homes and a second chance at life.

After many years at Battersea witnessing other people's mistakes, I feel as though my circumstances are right and I finally realise my dream of having my own dog. The elderly, but charming, `Gus' and I share three and a half wonderful years together before I have to face every dog owner's worst nightmare.

The book is an account of some extraordinary circumstances I found myself in - often completely unconnected to my everyday world of dogs - circumstances brought about simply as a result of my passion for dogs equaling someone else's. It is also a celebration of all the good that comes out of one unique, genuine, caring, determined, proud establishment; a place that has become as deeply ingrained in British heritage as the monarchy, fish and chips and cups of tea. A place known simply as Battersea Dogs Home.

I left Battersea Dogs Home after 15 years to set up home in Australia. When I arrived in Oz I was extremely homesick and desperately missing the dogs. Due to the fact that I didn't have a job and hardly knew a soul Down Under, I encountered none of life's usual distractions and for the first time found I had the time and space to reflect on my previous decade and a half. I always knew Battersea was a special place but it was only then that I came to realise just what a truly incredible time I'd had there. So I began to write down some of my memories, partly so I didn't forget them, partly as therapy to alleviate the homesickness and relive those blissful years. It worked. I felt happiest when I was writing about Battersea and before I knew it, I'd written 90,000 words, enough for a book! Having never penned anything before, however, I was convinced it was rubbish and besides, who else would be interested in my story? I showed it to a friend of a friend who was a literary agent. To my amazement she liked it and showed it to a publisher. The rest is history.

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