What’s it like living with 28 rescue dogs? Abby shares her story
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
Animal lover Abby Jelley has rescued a huge brood of dogs, along with pigs, chickens and alpacas, looking after them all at her farm in Suffolk
Pets bring so much joy into our lives. Always happy to see us when we walk through the door, our furry friends are wonderful companions. But instead of having just one four-legged pal greeting you each morning, can you imagine what it might be like to have 28 dogs bounding over to see you?
Abby Jelley knows how that feels. Over the past 10 years, Abby has dedicated much of her time to adopting animals at her farm in Suffolk, taking on many dogs, pigs, chickens and even alpacas. With plenty of outdoor space, her beloved pets have room to roam and get some open-air exercise – the dogs even have their own assault course to keep them busy!
“Dogs give me the confidence that my anxiety often takes away from me,” Abby told me when I went to visit her farm last month. “When I first started rescuing dogs, it made me feel like I had a real purpose in my life.”
“My staffy Jake was my first rescue. One day, I was out walking my little brindle staffy Diesel when I noticed a woman acting a bit suspiciously. She was holding a carrier bag and kept loitering near a rubbish bin, before eventually dropping the bag in the bin and rushing away. Diesel pulled me over to the bin and was sniffing enthusiastically so I looked to see what the woman had left there. When we looked in, we noticed that the carrier bag was moving, and when I carefully opened the bag, out popped a squirming little staffy puppy. I picked him up carefully and snuggled him into my coat – he couldn’t have been more than three weeks old! I reported the incident to the police and they managed to catch the woman on CCTV and prosecute her. I couldn’t believe that someone wouldn’t want this lovely puppy. Little Jake has been with me ever since!”
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Since moving onto the farm where they live today, Abby and her husband have kept on growing their brood, building outdoor dog kennels and playpens to accommodate their many four-legged friends. Many of the animals have had an unhappy start in life, and Abby is delighted to be able to give them a happy home. One of their dogs came to them when it was dumped over the fence of the farm, while others had been abandoned or mistreated before finding a forever home at Abby’s farm. Another one of her dogs came to her with falsified Pedigree papers – an issue which Abby warns is becoming ever more common.
And it’s not just dogs – Abby has also rescued a number of farm animals, including ex-battery hens and milking goat called Dolly. The farm is home to two rescue pigs, a Kune Kune named Lucy, and a German ‘micro pig’ called Pinky. Abby believes that Pinky was abandoned by her owners when she started growing, and turned out to not be so ‘micro’, after all.
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“There’s this micro pig trend that’s been going around, and lots of pigs end up getting abandoned when they start growing to their full size. Pinky was found at a farm very thin and neglected. She’s such a lovely, friendly girl, and she’s quite the escape artist!”
Indeed, Pinky was certainly happy to see us, and eagerly followed us around as we made our way from enclosure to enclosure. Next, we headed over to say hello to Abby’s four rescued alpacas, which are free to roam about the farm. They are sheared once a year, Abby told us, and she uses some of the fleece to stuff the dog’s beds.
Some of Abby’s dogs have certain health and behavioural issues, such as her collie and maremma sheepdog cross, Angel, who is completely blind. This doesn’t hold Angel back, though, says Abby, and she has even won a handful of ‘best in show’ awards at various dog shows. Her brother Kai is also blind, and isn’t as keen on dog shows, preferring to lounge around and soak up the sunshine in the garden.
Abby’s love of dogs led her to set up the Barking Mad Canine Crew, which is a group for like-minded dog owners. The group runs dog shows and other fun events, as well as promoting responsible dog ownership and positive training techniques. Most of all, it’s a great place for owners and pups alike to make friends.
“I wanted to offer people the chance to meet others who enjoyed spending time with their dogs – especially for those people who might need support in a time of crisis or loneliness. I started showing our dogs to help boost my confidence and it has really changed my life.”
“We really do love our animals and they bring us so much joy. We often get quite a reaction to the number of dogs we have, but they are our world and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Do you have an inspirational story to share about adopting a pet? If so, get in touch with us.