Igor – The Dragon

Igor has developed quite a fan base over the years and it breaks my heart to share that Igor has passed away peacefully.  However, as does every animal, he has a story that deserves to be told and so here it is.


I named him after one of the geese from the movie Fly Away Home (one of my childhood favourites about a girl who raises a flock of geese and teaches them to fly).

“Igor is the name given to one of Amy Alden‘s rescued Canada geese. He was born with a limp and always lingered behind the flock.  Her uncle David proposed the name Igor, inspired by Frankenstein’s assistant. Amy liked it, and the name stuck. Igor often stayed behind during lifts off, and had to be pushed to fly away.  He came back on his own the following Spring.”

Igor arrived in terrible condition in 2014.  I took him straight to the vet who said he didn’t think he was going to survive.  He had had no UV light and was dangerously thin.  He was missing half a leg, several toes and the end of his tail.  I was advised to keep him comfortable and feed him whatever he would eat.  The vet gave him weeks at best.

Arrival picture – Nov 2014

I installed a UV light and it took him 3 days to stop hiding from it.  Gradually though he started to put weight on and the 2 month window he was given passed.  He never wanted to eat vegetables or fruit (like a mature beardie is supposed to eat!).  Instead, he insisted on eating crickets and wax worms.  Now I am not one for this but I was going to do anything to help this dragon return to his full glory.

You see, many years ago, he had been bought by someone, along with another male.  Bearded dragons are extremely territorial and will fight (often to the death) to defend their space from another male.  Poor Igor had lost the end of his tail and his right foot before the owner realised this was a bad idea and re-homed him.  The lady who took him on really did care for him but did not know how to look after him.  He was suffering without proper lighting.  A beardie needs correct lighting to digest food and calcium properly.  This poor dragon was not getting any calcium and as a result had lost several toes due to them being so brittle and breaking.  He was also scarily thin.  What is worrying is she was only re-homing him because she had got a dog and didn’t have time for him anymore.  I dread to think how long he would have continued to suffer had he had stayed there.

He was 5 years old when I got him and those 5 years must have been incredibly painful.

So a few months after he arrived, I realised he was not only still alive but a completely different dragon!  He had colour in his body, he had put weight on and he had felt real sunshine for the first time in his life!

Can you believe it is the same guy?

My Igor had fought back and won.  He had some quirks which he never lost…he rarely hunted and would often wait to be hand fed.  He struggled on that missing front leg and so, although he enjoyed a hunt, he really struggled to hunt for long.  He often refused to eat unless I fed him…so for the friends that looked after him for me on my rare time away and he ate…feel special!

He danced at the door to his tank when he wanted to come out and have a wander (which he always knew he could) and he often sat on my shoulder or sunbathed while I studied.

The most special part of our friendship was when I started being greeted by him in the morning with the bearded dragon greeting of a head bob.  Occasionally he even waved at me!

And so we lived happily ever after.  I decided he had been through enough and he would stay here for the rest of his life.  He had been given weeks to live and here we are nearly 3 years later.  He has moved house with me, he featured on my video pitch to secure funding for Pawsitivity, he attended events to promote good and responsible pet care, he has been an ambassador for animal adoption and his story will forever be a reminder that owning pets is a PRIVILEGE not a right.  Do not underestimate the work, dedication and love required.  Be honest with yourself before you bring an animal into your life if you can be what they need…they don’t choose you remember.

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Igor, my handsome dragon, I have never met an animal who deserved his wings more.  It aches that to get your wings you had to leave me behind but I am so grateful I got to show you that there is love in this world.  I am glad I took your pain away.  I am glad you didn’t die as a result of neglect but peacefully, all wrapped up in love.  I am glad you experienced love and laughter and enjoyed life.

Now Igor, fly away home.





This is the kind of day those who share their life with animals dread.

People, when they hear what I do here at Pawsitivity Team, often wish they too could spend their life surrounded by the adorable while doing a good thing…who wouldn’t right?  However, there is a heart-wrenching side to this adorable world that I dwell in and the very idea of it is often enough to keep people from doing this at all.

Saying goodbye.


No, it never gets easier.  Yes, even after over 200 animals coming in and out of my life over the last 2 and a bit years, I still cry each and every time.

Do I wish I didn’t get so sad?  No.  I am glad that the animals, often arriving unwanted, have somebody to feel their departure.  I think they deserve to know that their little selves made a mark.  That someone cared enough about them to cry.

So let me share the story of Mabel. Her story deserves to be shared.



 This tiny rat started life ‘not pretty enough’ to get a home and her little life was to be cut short because of the colour of her fur.  Neither of us knew we would spend the next few years becoming friends.

Mabel stole my heart by snuggling onto my shoulder in a pet shop I was in by accident…sitting on my shoulder was to be her happy place for the rest of her life.

Our first photo

She was born with an agouti coat.  This is the technical term for brown…the natural colour of a rat.  Some of her siblings had black coats which are considered ‘prettier’.  Those with black coats were put up for sale in a pet shop.  Those with agouti coats were to be destroyed and used to feed reptiles (the ethics of this are for another post on another day).

I couldn’t leave her there so she came home with me that same day and I named her Mabel.


We have gone on merrily for years.  Mabel…having started life as ‘too ugly’ won BEST RESCUE IN SHOW the next year at the Scottish Rat Club Show and I couldn’t have been prouder.

Mabel – Best Rescue Pet

She came with me to demonstrations to encourage responsible pet ownership and why people should adopt and not buy animals from pet stores.  She has helped to remove the stigma and fear surrounding rats by being so friendly to everyone she met.  She has changed peoples attitudes and she has been a true ambassador for her kind.


Not only that, she fell in love with my partner as soon as she met him.  I loved that when we moved in together he made sure to give her a tour of the flat.  They became friends too and there was a lot of love in our home.

She was the best rat I could ask for and you can imagine my heartbreak when I discovered she had cancer.  On vet advice, she was to carry on as normal but I was to monitor her behaviour very carefully.  She got quieter but she stayed her happy, friendly self for 6 months.  Everything was as good as can be until a few days ago.

She suddenly started moving slower, she ate less and slept more.  I could tell the time was coming where I was going to have to make a heartbreaking decision.

On Saturday I decided enough was enough and that Monday I would have to take her to the vet.  On Sunday morning I made her an indulgent breakfast (egg, cornflakes, nuts…all the good stuff) and after breakfast I gave her lots of cuddles and waited til she went for a nap.

 I went to have a cup of tea and tried not to think about the decision Monday was probably going to bring.

I popped my head back in before sitting down to work and my sweet Mabel had passed away in her sleep.


Mabel, beautiful creature that she was, left her teeny tiny paw prints all over my heart throughout her life.  Today is a day I wish I didn’t do this.  Today is a day I wish humans would just sort themselves out and stop causing so much unnecessary pain.

However, it is her story that will inspire me tomorrow to do what I do.  Today I can be sad but tomorrow I have to keep loving and caring for the other animals that rely on me…and somewhere out there…another animal will desperately need me to remember everything Mabel and the others have taught me.


Rest easy now Mabel.  You did good sister.


Before you buy an animals please think.  Think of those who never made it to the shop floor because of how they look. Think of the industry you are supporting.  Please try and find an animal that needs you and what you are offering.  A loving home.


As my Grannie would say ” Of all of them in the world…be glad you met her.”