Testimonials From Our Wonderful Adopters
Time for us to hand over to our wonderful adopters to share their stories on welcoming their new family members into their homes. From seeing a picture of them on our site, to meeting them at the shelter and everything in between. A big thank you from us at Benafim Dogs for sharing your stories with us.
Lily was found tied to a fence in the middle of the countryside. She now lives a happy life with a lovely couple and their dog Jazz in the East of the Algarve.
“Hello, I’m Lily and I would like to wish you all a very happy Easter. I heard that Easter is the celebration of new beginnings and new life. Well, as I have a new life now, perhaps today is the right day to thank everybody who helped me to find my new parents.
I would like to thank the lady who rescued me when I was just dumped out of a car and tied to a fence. You were there for me when I was so desperate for help and I am so grateful. If it hadn’t been for you who knows where I would be today. I would like to thank you all at Benafim dogs for giving me a safe place to stay. And a huge thank you for the donation for my vet fees.
Now I live in a very nice place where I have a great life together with Jazz. He is amazing, so gentle and I absolutely adore him. He gives me a lot of confidence and I’ve already taken on a duty in my new home, I guard the fridge!! After all, I am a guard dog, aren’t I?
Many things in my new home are new to me and I learn something new every day. I make my mum and dad smile a lot when I explore the garden and chase after a butterfly or put my nose into a flower. They think I am sweet and funny, what ever this means. I think, I am just myself. Never mind, as long as I am loved I am happy. And loved I certainly am now. So Happy Easter everybody! To new beginnings.” Tina and Russ McEvoy
Killo was abandoned as a puppy and spent many years in Portimao municipal kennel before coming to us in 2017. He instantly melted our hearts with is funny personality, shy, charming demeanor and super cute head tilt. He went unnoticed for so long until his luck changed. Killo now lives near Brighton in the UK and is loved by everyone who meets him. He is the centre of his family’s world!
“When we agreed to adopt Killo 14th January, it was the beginning of an anxious and exciting time. We went through lots of emotions….from not being able to wait to meet him to worrying about if he would settle in with us.
He arrived late on the 5th March and we met him at a service station. He wouldn’t get out of his crate and Steve (from the brilliant transport company) had to carry him out for us. His tail was between his legs and he wouldn’t stop shaking. We decided to get him straight home as we had a 30 minute journey to get there.
We got him home and he came in on his lead and had a little look around the lounge. We put him some dry food down and he had a small amount and then laid down by the side of the armchair even though we had brought him a new bed.
I stayed on the sofa for the first 4 nights as I didn’t want him to stress by us leaving him alone in a strange place.
He used to shake every morning but I think it was just getting used to being in a different place and it was obviously a lot colder than he was used too.
We would take him out on his collar and lead and he didn’t have any issues getting into the car. We found it a little weird that he would only go to the loo once a day but he is now getting better at that. We got him measured and fitted with a harness as we were worried about him slipping his collar. This has really helped his confidence in walking and ours too!
Every day Killo settles in more and more. His personality is coming out and he does this amazing dance thing when we bring his dinner in.
We are so lucky to have him and he is fitting into our family so well. This is all thanks to my friend Louise who introduced us to Killo and helped us all along the way.
We love him so much.” Andrea Barber
Ajax, sweet Ajax was rescued by Portimao municipal kennel before coming to us in 2020. With his soppy, kind and playful personality we loved him instantly. Thankfully so did his wonderful adopters in the UK when they heard all about him. Now he lives in the wonderful English countryside, with his sister Becky and their loving parents.
“Meet Ajax. The newest member of our family….goofball extraordinaire and the softest, most daft, cuddle craving doggie ever!
One look from those eyes and he could melt even the hardest heart. We discovered Benafim dogs via another group on Facebook, whilst we were looking for a brother for Becky, our Cypriot rescue Beagle.
We got chatting to Louise and discussed some possibilities for our household. Some wonderful doggies just weren’t equipped for the journey to the UK, so we narrowed it down to two. Louise was brilliant, answering all our questions and there were lots. Then the decision was made and Ajax was going to join us. Louise sent us detailed emails with everything we needed to know….from health details to feeding and lots of helpful tips in between.
Ajax’s transport ran so smoothly too and he arrived at a service station in Worcestershire, on a snowy evening. Ajax settled in really well, just like Louise thought he would.
He is a really good boy. He does have some separation anxiety, which we are working on, with the help of Louise, who is always on the end of an email. Benafim do such a brilliant job of finding a human match for their doggies. We are really glad we found them.” Maria-Elena Mebs Bennett
Sweet, fluffy Baldo arrived with us from Portimao municipal kennel in 2020. Another kind, loving boy who had just been cruelly dumped like rubbish. Thankfully Baldo captured the hearts of Jo and Shaun very quickly and is now living a really happy life with them and his sister Sadie in Bristol, UK.
“Baldo arrived with us from Benafim just over six weeks ago and has already established himself as a much loved & treasured part of the family.
Throughout the whole process of his adoption & transport to the U.K, Louise was in touch & we felt completely reassured & supported the entire time, especially considering Brexit & the fact that we were in national lockdown due to Covid!
Baldo arrived completely house-trained (apart from the odd initial accident)! He adores people, gets on with other dogs and he and our older Staffie have bonded with a quiet respect for each other!
I can’t praise Louise and all at Benafim highly enough. Their love for the dogs in their care is obvious in the way that Baldo has had the confidence to settle in so well & so quickly.
A massive thank you to Louise and Benafim for the big softie fluff monster that is Baldo” Jo and Shaun Smith
Max was abandoned sadly, like so many dogs it was obvious he had been in a home at some point but had been thrown out like rubbish. Fortunately Max was seen by Patricia who brought him to the shelter. It wasn’t long before he stole Nick’s heart and now lives in Almancil living the good life!
“After seeing the pictures of all the lovely dogs at Benafim Dogs, I contacted Louise to ask if I could visit them on Friday afternoon and meet the dogs.
After meeting Louise, Patricia and Lee I knew all these amazing dogs had hit the jackpot in being with such lovely and caring people. Especially after many of these dogs had either been abandoned or mistreated.
During the visit I met Max, a Patterdale terrier who was just a bundle of joy and smiles. He came straight over and put his head on my lap. We stayed fr about an hour and met all the dogs, however I felt drawn to Max. To be honest I wanted to take them all home!
On the drive home I made the decision to ask for a weekend trial with Max to see if we were right for each other. I was made aware by the guys that Max has separation anxiety and got very distressed when left alone for even a short space of time.
The following Friday Max arrived. He walked in, jumped onto my knee and then after a sniff about he jumped on to his new bed and went to sleep!
Within 2 hours I knew he was not going back to the shelter. I gave it until the Sunday and messaged Louise to say I would like to adopt Max. The following week, the papers were sorted and Max’s chip transferred into my name.
Since Max has arrived we are walking 6 to 9 km per day and I am so much happier than before. Max makes me smile on a daily basis and is just so good! 6 weeks in and Max has gained 2 kg of muscle due to walking and I have lost 9 kg of “not muscle” shall we say. My life has changed for the better in so many ways!
Max is now up to 2 hours on his own without any drama what so ever. Although to be honest he does come everywhere with me anyway! He is quite the local celeb here in Almancil! Everyone knows him. He is great with all other dogs and even children. He sits on command, gives a paw and is now off the lead when no one is around. He comes back on command every time.
I really can not recommend the guys at Benafim enough! The process was just made so easy for Max and I and they are still supporting us through the early months and love hearing updates about Max.
“If you are looking for a new addition to your family then I would always advise rescuing one of these beautiful dogs who deserve the best, rather than buy from a breeder or pet shop.” Nick Jeal
Beautiful, soulful Romy was no longer wanted by her family. She was taken to Portimao municipal kennel and left without a backwards glance. There she stayed for a few years until she came to Benafim Dogs. Our hearts melted as soon as we met her and thankfully so did her wonderful adopters, who saw her and fell in love. Romy now lives in the West of the Algarve.
“She makes my heart smile everyday” Nora Bakker
Joseph was another victim of abandonment. Thankfully a tourist kept him safe until we were able to bring him to Benafim Dogs. Joseph was adopted locally and lives with his Mum and Dad, enjoying fantastic walks in the countryside and despite the intentions of not being allowed on the sofa, as you can see from the photos, this didn’t last long!!!
“We adopted Joseph in January after seeing him on the Facebook site. We sent a message with questions and we were responded to very quickly with all our questions answered in full. All along the adoption process we were extremely happy with the level of professionalism and aftercare from the amazing dedicated staff. Cannot recommend Benafim Dogs highly enough and urge anyone looking to adopt to contact them for a visit.” Steve Russell
Beautiful, sweet Susan, now called Sanne spent many, many years overlooked and desperate for a home. Her happy ever after finally happened when her loving adopters Marlene and Maarten decided to give an older dog the dream life. Sanne now lives in the Algarve and enjoys daily walks on the beach with her sister Suzie and lots of cuddles on the sofa!
“Our 3years old Suzie could not stay home alone; so our plan was to adopt a sister for her.
I saw the picture and story on Benafim dogs Facebook page about Susan. 7 years old and never have been in a loving home. After 3 years at a gypsy camp, she was saved by the municipal kennel in Portimao. After 4 years there in not that comfortable circumstances; she was happy enough to be allowed to live at Benafim Dogs shelter.
So we took our Suzie to see if they were a match. Susan was shy and scared, but I promised myself not to look for a cuter dog and give Susan a chance. And we are so happy we did.
Two kind volunteers from Benafim dogs brought her to our home. The first night already we noticed she started to trust us and we decided to adopt her. They helped with the paperwork and she was already vaccinated and sterilised. No money as a gift was accepted. Our adoption was the gift.
I would ask all people to give old dogs a chance. Even the shy and scared once. Because they become so amazing after the feeling of a loving, safe home.
We are truly grateful to Benafim dogs for all the work they do for so many dogs and the active Facebook page really works for lots of adoption.
With love from Susan ( now Sanne) and her sister Suzie,
Marlene and Maarten from Fuseta”
Twix spent many years living on the streets, very scared of everything. Thankfully a kind person spent time gaining his trust enabling her to catch him and bring him to Benafim Dogs. Day by day and very slowly he started to wag his tail and trust us, but he was still very shy when he caught his wonderful adopter’s attention. Thankfully their big hearts accepted there would still be a lot of work and patience involved with his adoption and they welcomed him with open arms into their home here in the Algarve.
“We would like to tell everyone how fantastic Benafim Dog Shelter is and would recommend you to go and meet the lovely doggies and fantastic team. We had set our sights on a rescue dog and followed them all, via Facebook.
When we went to visit, we fell in love with Twix and couldn’t wait to foster him with the hope to adopt. Due to Twix’s nervous nature there was a lot of work to be done but we were supported totally by the lovely team, at Benafim.
Any issues were quickly resolved and we looked forward to their visits to check on Twix. Especially when it came time to carry out the formalities of Twix’s adoption. We are indebted to Louise, Patricia & Lee for their devotion and endless support to all the doggies and future adopters.
Go & visit, you won’t regret it & your lives, like ours, will be enriched by doing so” – Wendy and Guy Lowther
Mel was rescued by Portimao municipal kennel before coming to us at Benafim Dogs. She spent a few months with us gaining confidence before being adopted by the most adorable family in the UK.
“We were recommended the shelter by a friend and so glad we were. From first contact they were friendly and helpful and it was fabulous too see just how much they care about the dogs. With us being in the UK I was a little worried the distance would be an issue with discussions and formalities but they made things as smooth as possible and everything was sorted out either through email or phone calls.
They arranged everything including the transport company who then got in contact with us and also kept us informed of everything. It was during the adoption of Mel that the euro tunnel problems occurred but again we were kept up to date daily, Mel arrived safely a day earlier than planned despite the tunnel issues.
She arrived with us in the middle of December and has settled in amazingly, she loves her walks across the fields and finding other animals on the field to chase.
We can’t recommend Benafim enough for all the help, support and care they put into each dog in their care.” Heather and Jay Fearn
Bertie was found abandoned in a small town in the Algarve. He came to Benafim Dogs before going to wonderful fosters who took care of him during his treatment for heart worm. His lovely adopters were extremely patient in waiting for Bertie to be fit and healthy to travel to the UK. The wait was definitely worth it for both Bertie and his family!
“Hi, we’re Mei and Graham and we adopted Bertie from Benafim in December 2020. Don’t worry, he wasn’t a Christmas present, he was due to arrive in summer but illness kept him in Portugal longer than originally anticipated.
I’d been looking for a rescue dog for a few months and was having no joy with rescues in the UK due to their extremely stringent (some might say ridiculous) requirements and the shortage of available dogs due to the covid lockdown. I have friends living in Portugal who foster dogs, so I knew that Portuguese dogs are often adopted abroad in the UK. We’d chatted and my friend found Bertie on Benafim’s site. She put me in touch with Louise.
I was contacted and they asked me a few sensible questions about our home, our working patterns and our experience of dogs, and that was it. They started looking for transport for Bertie. Unfortunately it was then discovered that he had undiagnosed heart worm and would need treatment, serious treatment, before he could travel. Benafim paid for his treatment and found him a foster home so that he could receive the treatment and recover. Louise updated me regularly so that I always knew what was going on.
Finally he was well enough to travel in December and his transport was booked. I transferred the money to the transport company and that was it. I got beautiful videos and pictures from Louise and his foster parents of him leaving Portugal. The next day, we drove to a motorway service station to meet his transport (a mini bus-type vehicle full of dog crates) and found our gorgeous boy. As well as being instantly loveable he’d been well-fed and watered and was spotlessly clean. A quick walk around the services and he hopped into our car.
We’ve had him a few months now and we can’t imagine life without him. He’s fit and healthy and a joy in the car thanks to the training and socialisation he had at Benafim. He has a few issues, such as being reactive to certain dogs, which we knew about in advance, but we’re working on it. We’re lucky that he’s house trained and has never had an accident in the house (touch wood) and was already crate trained. As soon as he saw a crate in our house with his cushion in it, which had travelled with him, in he went.
The worst thing he does is jump up on visitors and bark at the postman. Sounds like almost every other dog on earth to me! He’s absolutely gorgeous, loves walking on a lead, travelling in the car and meeting new people, and he’s great with children. He’s just been on his first holiday with extended family, visiting beaches and castles in the sun. Bertie boy makes us smile every day.
Thanks so much to everyone at Benafim and his foster parents for looking after him and for enabling him to find us, his forever family.” Mei and Graham
Super affectionate Tiger was rescued with his friend Monika and were both with us at Benafim Dogs for many years. We really had a special bond with both of them and once again couldn’t understand why they were over looked. Our patience and determination paid off. Tiger is finally living the life he so deserves in Scotland with a loving family who spoil him with one of his favourite pastimes – cuddles!
“Adopting our dog from Benafim was a stress free process. We were given lots of information about our dog, full veterinary history and they talked us through every stage. Tiger arrived healthy and happy and has settled in well to family life. He’s a wonderful dog and they offer a brilliant service and care for their dogs so well. Highly recommend them.” – Kevin McCleod
Teeny tiny Betty was abandoned in the middle of the countryside near to Benafim Shelter. She may be small in size but big in character and of course it didn’t take long for her cheekiness to capture the hearts of Gemma and Ian in the UK.
“I had been following Benafim shelter’s updates for many years then one day last August I saw a post introducing a new addition to the shelter called Betty. I wasn’t intending to get a dog there and then but I fell in love with Betty and expressed my interest in adopting her.
Within a few days it was confirmed Betty would be coming to live with my husband and I! Understandably, Benafim Shelter needed to know our set up and see evidence that Betty would be safe here.
Every step of her adoption was made so easy for us. They made sure all her vaccinations were up to date and arranged Betty’s transport back to the UK. Everything was documented and Betty arrived with a booklet with all her known medical history.
They went above and beyond to help us prepare for Betty’s arrival, we were advised of things to look out for when adopting a rescue dog and sent us a thorough email with all everything we needed to know from when to worm her to her chip registration number, the different stages they can go through before they truly unwind and feel at home, her measurements so we could get the right size harness and collar. The guidance and support was endless!!
Having heard of so many people who are refused dogs based on their living arrangements it is reassuring to know Benafim shelter looks at the whole picture. Of course they need to know that a dog will have plenty of exercise but were very happy to see that we had so many parks close by and so our small backyard didn’t put them off. Betty has settled in so well, we like to think she is living her best life!
My husband and I are smitten with her! We cannot thank Benafim Shelter enough for all their help and for letting us adopt Betty. They clearly love all the dogs they take in and the work they do behind the scenes is incredible making sure the dogs are ready to be adopted and preparing them for their new life.” Gemma and Ian Willis
Vivo was rescued by Portimao municipal kennel where he spent a few years before coming to Benafim Dogs. We honestly couldn’t understand why he was overlooked and seemed to go unnoticed by perspective adopters. Then one day his luck changed and Vivo now lives such a wonderful, happy life with his furry siblings and parents in the Algarve countryside.
“Vivo – our love story. How it all began.
Since I was little, we always had family dogs, I grew up with my furry friends and wanted my children to have the same privilege. We moved to Portugal in 1996 and that was when I realized how many stray dogs there were in Portugal. We opened our doors to former stray dogs named Linda and Eddie, followed by Clarinha, Menina and Lobo and some others we were lucky to find new loving homes for.
4 Years after our big dog Lobo died, I saw a story about Vivo on Facebook. He was meeting a couple with 2 dogs at Angrinha beach in Ferragudo ( very close to us) and was supposed to have found his forever home. Sadly it did not work out and that was when I decided to visit the shelter Benafim dogs.
I found the shelter very special – such a big space for the doggies to run free and just 2 or 3 dogs in one run. Lee, Patricia and Louise have a special bond with the dogs it was really very different and I loved it. I did not look at any other dog – somehow there was no doubt that it had to be Vivo and after talking to Lee it became clear that we were going to have him come to our house to meet the little girls and our chickens.
As the first meeting went well, we decided for a trial week and with this day on the 07.11.2020 Vivo´s and our lives changed. There was not the smallest problem with our girls (or better said old ladies) they accepted him from day 1. I must say he is sooo cute with them, they can take his space in the dog bed, he will not bother – but therefore whenever he has the chance and they leave some food – he will eat it ……. He really loves food! Every new situation (visitors etc.) he needs some time to adapt to but he really wants to fit in.
In the beginning we were all nervous – we did not know each other and Vivo is a big dog and was not used to be in a house – we needed a little time to build up trust at first. I felt from the start that he was trying very hard to do everything well – that was amazing to see.
It took only a short while until everybody got settled. Vivo at first had his dog-bed in the hall, then in the lounge but very quickly he moved into our bedroom. He makes me smile every day – he is so sweet – it is hard to explain how much love a dog shows you if you do not experience it yourself.
It has been a challenging time since we have Covid-19 in our life’s, there are a lot of things to face which we did not even dream that could happen, there is a lot of uncertainty and some fears how the future is going to be. My friend Vivo knows nothing about this and how much he helps me to stop overthinking every little problem and just follow him on a walk into the countryside to simply enjoy life. While I am writing this, he is sleeping by my side.
Lee, Patricia, and Louise – thank you so much for making this possible and for doing this brilliant job with the dogs.” Stefanie Zickler
Ada spent many years in Portimao municipal kennel before coming to us at Benafim Dogs. She spent a further 3 years with us before finally being adopted by a lovely couple in Holland.
“We were halfheartedly looking for a dog. Halfhearted because it couldn’t be just any dog. It most certainly wouldn’t be a a purebred, if we were looking at all… which we were not. Our last dog, Rex, was a rescue dog of mixed breed from Greece who had happily spent his last years with us. He had come to us by chance and we knew instantly he belonged with us although we were not looking for a dog at the time either.
That kind of ‘halfhearted’; more like a natural sense of belonging. More like serendipity of the canine variety. So when Ada presented herself one beautiful August afternoon through a Facebook post of a mutual friend we knew we had found our next dog.
Ada was already eight years old and had been living in a shelter for the past four and a half years: two in the municipal kennel at Portimão where she slowly started to languish and as a result she had the good fortune of being bumped up to the privately run shelter of Benafim Dog Rescue for the remainder.
Ada was accurately described by Benafim as “a very kind dog who craves human company. Sadly Ada doesn’t get on with all dogs at the shelter and we have to keep her separate from females. She tends to be okay with male dogs but can be a bit temperamental. Ada walks very well on a lead but she can be strong, she is very muscular and about 22kg.” So far, so good. Time for some vetting. No not the dog, but we were the subject of some serious vetting. A Dutch volunteer came to our home to check it—and us—out. Fortunately, although the bar is high, we checked out alright. Ada’s passport was made, the necessary jabs given and travel arrangements prepared.
And before we knew it Ada arrived late one night at an anonymous car park in the south of Holland. She was the last one on the van to arrive after a long drive from Portugal. Long because her two minders stopped often to let the dogs drink and walk. The perfect volunteers who know that volunteering is not without obligation. In this case obligation to the welfare of the animals they transport.
We arrived home in the middle of the night and woke up our (guest) cat to make sure that Ada would know from the start that the cat had the oldest rights. It was a bit of a long shot since Benafim had made it clear that she would most likely identify the cat as prey. But we were in luck. After about an hour a stalemate turned into a truce. Since then Mitzi is a full-blown member of Ada’s pack, although living apart together. Ada occupies the ground floor; the rest of the house belongs to Mitz. Ada always wants to play with Mitz, but the cat is not convinced of Ada’s good intentions. A truce it is.
Make no mistake about it: other cats are prey and nothing more. But when she encounters Mitzi in the street she’s overjoyed and goes up to her wagging her tail. Mitz on the other hand is wagging her paw in Ada’s face, still not convinced of her good intentions. But she doesn’t use her claws and they are content walking to their home side-by-side.
Which brings me to Ada’s character. Yes, she is a kind dog and she does crave human company, but she is also very temperamental, very strong and a very, very outspoken (female) alpha dog. And a true hunter at that. She has all the traits of the Portuguese Greyhound: the Podengo. She stands on her hind legs looking for prey, she catches mice while on the lead, she runs like the wind (nine years old now mind you!), redecorates the house schlepping around blankets, plays with her mouth looking quite vicious and when she hunts nothing can stop her… But she does make friends!
She’s been with us for seven months now (April 2021) and she has a whole bunch of new mates she plays with. Most of them are male dogs, but also female dogs, big and small. The biggest is Jesper, a Samoyed, the smallest is Max, a wire-haired Dachshund, who is very smart in outwitting Ada. She is very gentle with pups although they are quickly dismissed not being able to play with her (yet).
Ada likes it rough and loud—easily frightening other dogs—and she likes to show off her extraordinary speed. Only one or two friends can keep up with her. She can frolic off the lead as long as she’s playing, but we always have to be prepared for her going into hunting mode.
Ada is a wonderful dog and we are so fortunate to have her! Walking her four times a day is a real gift, especially in corona time. We did however very quickly replace her ordinary lead with a harness sparing her neck. She is so incredibly strong that we were afraid she might hurt herself. Her pulling on the lead stopped instantly.
There is really only one downside: Ada is very vigilant and her bark is very loud and deep (postman Pat is not a happy man). Fortunately the upside is that burglars don’t stand a chance either. All in all life with Ada is very good. She’s happy and dedicated to us (and Mitzi). You couldn’t make her more happy than to sit on the sofa letting her smother you with affection. Just like it should be.
Thank you Benafim Dog Rescue and Portimão Kennel for allowing us to be Ada’s forever home.” Jan Martin Wilschut
We rescued Fenix from some terrible fires that swept through the Algarve a few years ago. Fenix was kept on a chain and had no way of freeing herself. She was in such a bad way when she came to us but slowly she recovered both physically and mentally. Fenix is now in a wonderful, loving, caring home in the UK where every day she makes her adopter smile and laugh.
“Fenix… the kindest, gentlest most loving soul. Definitely a case of who rescued who. I can’t imagine my life without her. She never puts a foot wrong, just wants to please and an absolute pleasure to have around.
Benafim have been so supportive. They’ve answered every question I’ve asked (and I’ve asked a lot!) super fast. Nothing is too much trouble. They’ve been open and honest about everything and I’m so grateful. Thank you” Laura Ellis
Rodinhas and Urso
Rodinhas and Urso were rescued together from a rather unpleasant living situation. Both were very shy and nervous of humans for quite some time with us at the shelter. Slowly with time, care, patience and love their confidence grew, their personalities started to show and we were so incredibly happy to find the most amazing couple to initially foster Urso, then Rodhinas, with the best, best news of going on to adopt them both. A dream come true. Rodinahs and Urso now live a happy life in Ireland.
“Benafim’s daily Facebook posts hooked us into it’s cause. Like tuning in to a regular favourite TV programme, we tuned in to see the dogs, read their profiles, and journey with them. We were delighted when one found a home; we felt sad when a re-homing didn’t work out.
Then we saw one post that changed everything. It was a video of the stunning Nero and a slice of pizza if I remember correctly.
We already had two rescue dogs so it’s not as if we needed another animal to fill up our home, but Nero melted our hearts. Besides, after months of reading Benafim’s heartfelt posts, we wanted to give a dog some respite from shelter life.
Sadly, Nero wouldn’t be compatible with the pets we already had. As dismay settled in during the closing minutes of our visit to Benafim, I came face-to-face with Urso. It was something more than love at first sight, as I heard myself say, “He’s like a bear,” with glee.
His eyes. His size. His demeanour. What makes us connect to one animal in particular? I couldn’t say. Feeling compelled by my brief interaction with Urso, I suggested we foster him for a short while. The way I rationalised this choice was that by going with the largest dog at the shelter – that is, the least sensible choice – we’d be more committed to actively searching out his forever home, i.e. we wouldn’t adopt this most unsensible of choices.
Lee of Benafim told us what we needed to know about Urso, which wasn’t much. With a sparse history before arriving at Benafim and no behavioural issues, our foster experience would be one of discovery.
With a bag of dog food and some vitamin tablets specific to Urso’s breed supplied by Benafim and with Urso scooped into the boot of our car, we drove away with the bear-dog looking mighty puzzled.
Our First Minutes: Introducing Urso
We knew that our two dogs, Wren and Tallulah, would probably accept Urso, but we didn’t know how he would behave with them or with our cats, so we introduced the three dogs on neutral territory, walking them around our quiet, rural neighbourhood.
None of the dogs seemed fussed or perturbed, even when we returned home. However, at a third of Urso’s weight, my little female, Tallulah, was cautious. We set up a bed for Urso and marvelled at how quiet and compliant he was being.
The First Days
We took the first days slowly, settling into Urso’s rhythm and temperament. He was cautious, balking at every sudden sound when we walked him. He’d jump at the sound of a twig snapping and wouldn’t go near a house that was having renovation work done. When we swept his room, he ran from the broom.
Wren and Tallulah were wary of Urso at first, as were the cats, each being only a fraction of his size. This situation changed, though, with time. One of the most heart-warming and satisfying aspects of taking on Urso has been to watch his relationship with our previous two dogs strengthen. To watch him leaping about, playfully chugging his enormous weight up and down the garden as he attempts to keep up with their turn of speed makes us smile every time.
When the occasion came to put Urso for a trial week in a potential Forever Home, my heart sunk. Our two remaining dogs pined. We knew he was in a good place that was caring for him, but we missed him. For reasons that were not his fault, Urso returned to us. More accurately, he returned to Wren and Tallulah.
He has gone from strength to strength and is firmly, staunchly, stubbornly part of our pack. Benafim remained in touch, on hand, available for advice through it all, continuing to supply veterinary support right until we signed the papers to take formal ownership of Urso.
And then came Rodinhas.
Rewinding to when we first saw Urso, we recall noticing a dog that caused us to think instantly, ‘No.’ He was pacing, frantic, had a look in his eye that said, “I’m highly strung.”
It turns out Rodinhas is a sensitive soul. He was strung out with shelter life. Several months had passed with Urso at our home, no longer sharing a run with Rodinhas. Rodinhas had lost his rock. When the Benafim team came to check up on how Urso was doing at our house, we learned the two had been rescued from the same situation in Monchique. The two had history, and we’d split them up.
Months later, Benafim put out a call. Rodinhas wasn’t doing well. He wasn’t eating, and he would sleep only when someone sat with him. They needed to find him a place to stay outside of the shelter.
The second time they put out the call, we responded.
As with Urso’s arrival, we introduced our dogs and Rodinhas on neutral territory, then returned home. There was no issue. Rodinhas was too exhausted yet still found the energy to work on the bone we had for him.
Patricia pointed out Rodinhas’ body language and his big doggy smile. She told us Rodinhas knew he was safe.
For the first few months, he kept himself separated. He carries deeply ingrained trauma. We’ve worked with him as much as we know how to reassure him. One aspect that helped lower his anxiety levels has been VetIQ Serene-UM Xtra Calming Tablets.
I was already using Serene-UM with my dog, Wren, who’s got severe anxiety issues in the presence of strangers. They contain an element found in a lactating bitch’s milk (I believe), and they’re just about the only calming tablet that has a lasting, noticeable effect. They worked brilliantly for Rodinhas.
Choosing to re-home Urso and Rodinhas has provided challenges – not least because dogs are pack animals. Once they’ve bonded, work especially consistently to assert yourself as Alpha. They’ve taught us many things about ourselves and dogs. They’ve provided us with much laughter, and just about every day, they melt our hearts.
But this piece isn’t so much about our dogs; it’s about the crucial work that Benafim shelter does. Their dedication to the dogs has been tested in the last year and a half, yet they keep going – for the dogs. For a small team doing significant work in a trying environment, Benafim stands apart.
They have always been available to share photographs or questions about our dogs, which is vital because taking on a rescued animal has its demands. However, when we look back at how Urso and Rodinhas have flourished, grown in confidence and character, the demands are outweighed by the intangible rewards those dogs provide us.
“Anna Loewy and Emma Jervis”
Chum came to Benafim Dogs from a municipal kennel in the West of the Algarve. Such a young boy who already had been through so much in life. He spent over a year with us and like all the dogs we care for, really captured our hearts and souls. His lucky day came in April 2020 when the most loving, calm, beautiful couple fell in love with Chummie and welcomed him with their big hearts into their family. Chum now lives in the Algarve with lots of gorgeous furry siblings!
“First of all big love to all you guys from Benafim dogs!! Just because of your amour, your passion and faith we met Chum and learned more about love, trust, believe, faith and so much more. And to all of you who want to adopt a dog, please be sure to give all you would give yourself. And it is about UNCONDITIONAL LOVE ! It is not about commands SIT it something else like that. It is about melting together !! It is about the soul ! It is like when you meet your partner or when have your own kids. It is about being selfless. And all the dogs on the picture show us human beings how easy it could be to live in peace together no matter which colour, gender or race you are. Living peacefully, respectfully in love !! Thank you all BENAFIM !!!!!” – Tolga Kurtulus
Sweet, cheeky Kinder was abandoned near to Benafim Dogs. We took her in and were very quickly smiling and laughing a lot with her cheeky, funny, determined character. Thankfully her wonderful personality shone through to her loving adopters and she very quickly settled into her new home that she shares with other dogs and horses. In true Kinder style she keeps making her adopters laugh a lot and lives a fantastic life in the Algarve!
“We adopted kinder in March 2020, I saw a Facebook post with this gorgeous ugly little old girl with hardly any teeth and these huge ears, instantly I knew I had to have her!
We have had her for a year now and she has given us so much joy! Benafim Dogs made everything easy during the adoption process, they brought kinder to me, and they organized the change of ownership quickly and easily.
I send them regular updates which are met with as much excitement as I experience with kinder everyday and I love it! I would 100% adopt another dog through Benafim Dogs tomorrow if I had the space!” – Adele Assolutissimamente
Bella came to us in 2019 alongside her friend Bob. Sadly their owner wasn’t able to keep them anymore and we promised to take good care of both of them and find them loving homes. We kept our promise. Bella lives a wonderful life in the Algarve, with a loving family and a very sweet little brother.
“Hi I’m Bella, and I used to be a resident at Benafim Dogs; that was until I was adopted by my mummy and daddy. I will let my mummy stop fussing me so she can tell you about it.
I first saw Bella when I was scrolling through facebook and came across Benafim’s page. It was love at first sight, as soon as I saw that teddy bear face, my heart melted and I knew I had to meet Bella. I messaged Benafim and arranged my meeting. I decided on my first visit with Bella that I wanted to adopt her, and I knew she wanted that too, there was an instant bond between us. So I started the process with the wonderful team. I was unsure if they would allow me to adopt Bella at first, as we had just started renovating our house, and was living in a caravan on our land at the time.
But after a home visit by the wonderful Louise we got the go ahead. Everyone at Benafim was so helpful with advice, Bella is on the list of dangerous dog breeds here in Portugal, so Benafim advised me that I would need a separate liability insurance for her, and that she would have to wear a muzzle while out in public. I asked about types of muzzle’s, about flea and tick collars and medication, the team were very helpful in giving me all the information I needed.
So I would and do say to anyone that’s thinking of adopting a dog, check out Benafim first. The dog’s there are so well looked after loved and cared for by a wonderful team. The facebook page is a great way to see the dog’s, get to know their character, read about their little adventures, and updates on vet visits, adoptions etc.
Benafim is truly a wonderful shelter with well loved and looked after dogs, and a genuine dog loving team. Thank you Benafim for doing all you do, you guy’s are amazing.” Nina Wood
Gordon cheeky, funny Gordon now called Dino was with us for a few years at Benafim Dogs. He was abandoned locally and was living on the streets until we rescued him. Dino always made us smile at the shelter with his funny and quirky personality. Thankfully he also captured the hearts of his loving adopters and now lives the good life in the East Algarve.
“We adopted an old(er) dog from Benafim a little over a year ago. Benafim is the best shelter I have ever known, the people there care so much about their dogs and matching them with the right adopters. Communication between us has been brilliant and I know that they would always help if we needed it.
Initially, our problem was that our dog had the same name as my husband!! Fortunately, he ( the dog!) didn’t seem to mind changing his name. He has slotted into our family and lifestyle unbelievably well… it took a couple of months for him to feel settled enough to show his true character, which is a food thief! We discovered this when he stole my favourite supper from the kitchen one evening. The evidence was there in a half chewed plastic container in the garden!
But he is lovely and cheeky and funny and affectionate and we love each other to bits. Please don’t discount adopting an older dog, they are just wonderful!” – Karen and Gordon Howard-Goldsmith
We rescued Neve in 2016. She went on to spend three years with us waiting so patiently for her loving, forever home. Her luck changed during the summer of 2019 when her adopters
“As you can see from the photos, Neve settled into life very well here in the UK, it was a big transition for her and when she first arrived. Unfortunately Neve didn’t take so well to the cats, and still to this day does not tolerate them at all, she is very protective of her space & food, so they have to be kept seperate, but we’ve all worked together to work around this!!
The rescue were helpful with any advice we needed with Neve in the beginning and the transition/process of her coming to the UK was very well organised. We were kept in the loop throughout it all, and still to this day have contact with them to let them know how Neve is doing!
Neve can be the laziest dog ever! But on the otherhand really enjoys her walks, treats and food, she can be such a greedy girl haha! It took Neve a good year to fully come out of her shell, and now in the second year of her being with us, she has finally learnt how to play with toys, which is so lovely to see!
Benefim dogs do such a wonderful job in running the rescue, and truly do care about the dogs in their care and the homes they’re going to!! Thanks for letting us adopt Neve, she is very much loved and part of the family” Sophie Harris
Zorba had a home with his friend Lion but sadly the owner had to leave his home and Portugal and his dogs. Both boys were with us for just over a year. We truly loved both of them during their time with us and thankfully they now live a wonderful life in the UK and are close to each other in different homes so get to spend time together still!
“I adopted Zorba two years ago, having seen him on the Benafim Facebook page. The volunteers/owners of this amazing shelter know their dogs so well and had described Zorba’s personality in so much detail, that I had a good idea of the kind of dog he would be, but even so, I don’t think I could have imagined how wonderful he actually is!!
Zorba is a complete joy, every single day! We just adore him – he is possibly the happiest, most easy-going dog I have ever met and takes everything in his stride. This is largely due to the love and care he received from those at Benafim and I feel incredibly lucky to have him.
Zorbs was about 7 years old when I adopted him, so technically an older dog, and leish positive and all I would say is don’t let these things put you off! His leish is managed with a daily tablet, and he is the bounciest, most joyful, full of life dog who loves his walks (and unsuccessful attempts at catching squirrels) – and is definitely still in his prime!
Zorba loves everyone and everyone loves Zorba and I can honestly say that adopting him has been one of the best decisions I have ever made!” – Al Renton
Handsome Gaspar was rescued with his sister Kira from really dreadful living conditions where they had no contact with humans and had food lowered to them into a pit. Thankfully they were not permanently scarred by the horrendous start to their lives and Gaspar now lives a happy, fulfilled life in Wales.
“My beautiful Gaspar boy came from Benafim and I couldn’t have asked for a lovelier dog. His passport and transport to Wales were handled effortlessly for me and I had so much support and endless questions answered. What a fantastic job they do!” Tanya Crossland
Beautiful Kira was rescued with her brother Gaspar from really dreadful living conditions where they had no contact with humans and had food lowered to them into a pit. Thankfully they were not permanently scarred by the horrendous start to their lives and Poppy now lives a happy, fulfilled life in the Algarve.
“We all loved the experience of adopting Poppy through Benafim Dogs and love poppy very much.
She is really really special dog, and gets everyone’s attention when my mum takes her to work!! She is still a little frightened of certain sounds and situations, but she is so so much better and more cofnident.
Poppy loves people’s interaction, and she loves being able to run super fast in the countryside. Poppy is not really that fond of coming into the house but once in a blue moon or if there is thunder she will curl up on the sofa!
She is like a Shadow, which is funny because she is black and she will literally follow us everywhere, glued to our heels and totally obsessed with my Mother. We love her so much and couldn’t imagine life without her.
Thank you to Benafim Dogs for bringing her into our lives.” – Luisa Power