(was Holly)


On Thursday 24th March, Eileen had to say "goodbye" to her beautiful Bracken. She was 15yrs
and something of a local celebrity being known and loved by so many people in London where she
had lived happily for seven years. Already, this lovely lady is very much missed.

Eileen had been keeping an eye on her for a while as Bracken's age was beginning to catch up
with her. In early February, the vet said one of her back legs had deteriorated a bit more so he
upped her medication but she was still enjoying her walks and her food. She still loved interacting
with other dogs, other furry creatures and all humans and she remained as popular as ever.

A few weeks on, she had to have her fur shaved from her tummy to keep her comfy as further
deterioration in her back legs was making toileting more difficult for her and that was leading
to soreness. Blood tests showed she had chronic cystitis and she was borderline for Cushings Disease
but, again, with tablets, some cream and Eileen's vigilance, Bracken improved and, throughout,
she remained her usual happy self.

After going along nicely for a couple more weeks, Bracken collapsed on Saturday morning. Eileen
found her flat out on the floor unable to get herself up. Her son, Keith, managed to lift her on to her
bed where she stayed all day wrapped up warmly in a fleece. Eventually, she could get herself on to
her feet on the carpet but it was a struggle so Eileen stayed up all night with her.

On Sunday, she was a bit better but still needed assistance. It was as if she had twisted herself
somehow and got locked. Eileen, again, slept on the sofa to be with her and was convinced that
Brackie's time had come which meant a visit to the vets was imminent even though, throughout,
Bracken never lost her appetite at all and still wanted her food as usual.

On Monday, Eileen awoke to find Bracken, being the determined old lady that she was, had got
herself on all fours again and was able to walk on all surfaces again. She was even back to taking
herself into the garden for a wee. Both Bracken and Eileen spent most of Monday enjoying a good
rest after a very worrying weekend.

The reprieve was, sadly, short lived and, although all seemed well until Thursday, that was when
the same thing happened again and Eileen knew, this time, there was only one thing to do as a
final act of love for her beloved girl. With the help of a kind workman, Bracken was gently
placed in Eileen's car so they could make their way to the vets where Bracken slipped
 peacefully away to Rainbow Bridge.

Bracken's Memory Box


  Eileen says "Well here we are almost 6 yrs on, can you believe it? I don't know what more
 I can say about Bracken as she is as gorgeous as ever and still has the most lovely calm way
about her.  I'm always being stopped in the street or park by people who are bewitched by her
and love to stroke her. Many are fascinated by her ruff or curly necklace as i call it.

She still, to this day, has not made a sound but it doesn't bother her or me. People/friends/vets
can't believe it ......... her temperament has never faultered in any way since the day she arrived  ...... 
she really is my pride and joy, my glorious golden girl".

And, of course, there had to be a few words from Bracken herself:
" Oooooohhhh,  I'm so excited. I must tell you I have quite a few boyfriends now.  They are all
young chaps (hehehhheh). I don't want Gizzie  and his brothers or Vinnie to be upset as I'm still
their best girlie, of course.
 I have luverly fun walks in the park, always finding something different for me to explore every
time and, of course, I always walk as slow as i can so it takes a lot longer. I get admired by many
mums /dads with the children who just love to stroke me and, naturally, I milk it for all I'm worth.
I must tell you this cos it's soooo funny..... Mum was walking me round the block when the wind
blew really hard then I was suddenly all pink with the blossom that blew from the tree .....  people were
all smiling at me as we walked home. Then, the other day, I tumbled down the bank towards the river
in the park but, wait for it, straight into the arms of 5 workmen having their lunch.  Before mum could
reach me, I was enjoying a few bits of their sandwiches (yummy). I'm soooooo happy in my forever home   
lots of waggy tails and kisses
Bracken xxxxxx" 


Bracken, in her own words, said " Hello everyone. Well here I am 5yrs on in my forever home.
 I've had such a loverly year & have done some interesting things with mum.

I was 13 yrs old in May & shared my birthday with my fosterer (Auntie Belinda) & Mum's
two friends, Maria & Christine. We are all on 1st May so how special is that for a girl like me? I still
wear my loverly soft purple collar every day. I was given it when I got rescued all that time ago. 
It goes with my red lead which belonged to our other G.R who was almost 18yr when she went to Rainbow Bridge. She  was named Holly (just like I was originally) so, when I arrived in London, I became Bracken. Everyone loves my name & they say it suits me. Mum says that if I barked it
would be with an Irish accent, so it would.

I've met so many new dogs & children/ mums /dads in our loverly park & had some fun times.
Mum does like to chat though (boring) but I just go sniffing around & making friends & getting as
much fuss as I possibly can (not a hard thing to do). People are calling me the duchess now which
 Mum thinks is funny but I kind of like it. Last week, the last part of our park was finished.  It's a
woodland path which then reaches .... wait for it ....... Mum calls it the secret garden. It's fab ..... all set
behind the riverbank with seats /tables  & grassy spots, wild flowers, trees & bushes that leads to a
bridge across the stream which takes you back to the larger park .........  wow perfect ...... what fun!

Don't tell mum but I've been nicking some strawberries off her bush. She's blaming the little fox cubs
who live behind our back wall but it's meeeeeee ........ hehehhehhhehh. I can't stop laughing about it. 

I think I might be having a trip to Chatham soon & I'm really looking forward to it although I'm not
sure when it will be. Well, that's all for this year. I hope you enjoy reading my story  

lots of love Bracken xxxxxxx

p.s I nearly forgot to tell you about the police horses that come to the park to exercise. 
They are huge!!! & they go clip clop clip clop all along the paths. Because Mum makes me sit
patiently while they pass by, the police officers give me a nod & a wave. xxxxxxxx

Eileen, Bracken's Mum said " I don't know what more to say other than how lucky was I to
have been given the chance to adopt my gorgeous golden girl. I never expected such a gift to
come to me. My 5 very happy years with her, watching her develop all her natural skills &
using them to her best advantage has been mind blowing to me.
I think the funniest thing she accomplished this year was when we had the roadies tarmacking
all the surfaces along our road. This one day, there were 5 of them leaning along the wall
having a break and, as we passed, she stopped at each single one in turn, looked them up &
down until they gave her a stroke then moved along the line to the next one.  It was like a
police identity parade.  We all ended up in fits of laughter as she turned her back on them &
trotted off with this aura about her.........they said they had never seen anything like it before!!!!!

She is certainly a great ambassador for her breed. Everyone who comes in contact with her falls
for her charm and, because of her very calm gentle manner, children especially love to touch her. 
So here's to the next year ..... what has she got in store for me I wonder?"

Bracken's 13th Birthday

On 1st May 2014, Bracken celebrated her 13th birthday. At first she was a bit shy
about her age but, very soon, she indulged in the usual delicious birthday tuck-in followed
by a necessary period of sleeping it off.

She loved her cards and thanks everyone for their good wishes xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Bracken's Story

Unfortunately, due to ill health, Holly's owner could no longer keep her. Holly was fostered by Belinda and Terry in Somerset. They said: "Holly is an 8 year old lady. She has a lovely temperament, is excellent with other dogs and children but she is not good with cats. She settled into our home very quickly, and has fitted in with our three resident dogs and the other 2 foster dogs who came at the same time as she did. Holly is very good about being brushed, having her harness put on and, although we don’t think she was housetrained when she arrived, has very quickly become so. She does tend to pull on the lead and is quite a strong dog. She will need to be homed with another dog. She comes when she is called though we obviously haven’t let her off the lead yet. Holly does tend to help herself to any fruit and vegetables that are within her reach, with a particular fondness for bananas and potatoes so these have to be kept out of range."


Holly was initially homed in Dorset, but after one or two unfortunate ‘Retrieverish’ incidents was deemed unsuitable so went back to Belinda and Terry. But happily Holly, now renamed Bracken, has found her forever home in London, with Eileen, Ray and their dog Sasha.


24 July 2009

Eileen says: Terry and Bracken arrived safely yesterday after a long journey. Bracken is just gorgeous and greeted us with her tail wagging madly. After a quick wee in the garden she settled immediately with us and Sasha (our 14 year old chocolate Labrador). She has been no trouble and comes to us for strokes and cuddles.  She was very good the first night, although I stayed down with them both just to make sure. Bracken has found the treat cupboard already and she is so gentle when she takes one. She ate all her dinner last night with no fuss, and is now waiting for some breakfast.  She loves being around the kitchen (I wonder why?!).  She happily greeted my son when he came in from work last evening.

25 July 2009

All’s still going well. Bracken is so good with us and Sasha.  Last night I invited my friend in to meet her and she was happy to greet her. She hasn’t, as yet, whined/whimpered or barked at all. She is eating extremely well and is very clean. I have just taken her on her first walk on to the little green opposite us then continued round the block. I walked her close to the copings so she felt secure. She was very good and enjoyed it. I will take her again later today. Bracken is now having a nice snooze with Sasha.


29 July 2009

I just had to let you know this: I have been training Bracken to wait at kerbs and this morning on our way to the Park a white van was waiting to pull out when the chap leaned out of his window and said ‘your dog is standing in a lovely show stance’. I was flabbergasted and so was he when I said she was a rescue dog and I only had her a few days.  He thought she was beautiful.


Maria said "Bracken was looking really well & was so sweet.  She came right over as I walked in & was on her back in seconds, legs in air, tail wagging & stayed like that for ages. In fact she's so up for cuddles that she hardly lets Sasha have a look in!  I remedied that by getting Sasha up next to me on the sofa while Bracken laid on my feet & went asleep, as she won't get up on the furniture.

She certainly knows her name now as well, because when she went into the kitchen I mentioned her name in conversation & she was next to me in seconds!  Then onto her back again!  She is definitely very content & very well loved."

UPDATE 25.10.09

After taking the flower essences from Lynne, Bracken has not chewed anything and seems to settle when we are out now  I think she knows I will come back home.  She's still enjoying her daily walks and is always clean when she's out so no more accidents indoors for quite a while now.

Belinda was telling me about Connie doing the movements to music and I think Bracken would be good at it as she is so light footed, she springs along like a little dressage pony.  I call her fairy lightfoot although she can be a bit stubborn when she wants too.

She's beginning now to muscle out  and is looking in great shape.  Her coat is thickening up as well and is quite a deep golden colour.

I hate the dark nights but the best bit is staying in with the girls all warm and snuggly.

Bracken’s first Xmas in her forever home 

xxxxxxxxx    wooffffffffff...........


                             Eileen says "We can't believe Bracken has been with us for 6 mths now.

She has really settled in brilliantly with us and Sasha and we couldn't have asked for anything more.............the couple of teething problems have now been sorted out and she has become a favorite of everyone.

People we meet in the park can't believe she is a rescue and admire her lovely coat  but most of all her soft nature.  She's great with everyone plus kids and all the other dogs she's met so far. She still hasn't made a sound, as yet. 

She has never left a thing that's been given to her at mealtimes and she enjoys every mouthful (typical golden retriever)  so we are looking forward to another happy 6 mths to come and that she will enjoy many happy hours with us in the garden, weather permitting that is.

Thank you again for letting us adopt her."   


Eileen says "Well Bracken is 9yrs old today (the 1st May). She has been enjoying her special day with us and Maria who came from the Isle of Sheppey.

I cooked her some chicken carrot garlic biccies (yum yum) and Sasha bought her a packet of treats. She also has 2 cards. She had a lovely walk round with Sasha which she enjoyed, has just had dinner and is now flat out on her fleecy bed."


Well here we are one year on. How lucky we are to have chosen Bracken or should I say she choose me with her soft gentle face on your website.

She is absolutely gorgeous in every way, we couldn’t have asked for anything more. Everything about her is perfect, just what I’d hoped for.

She settled straight in with us and Sasha and apart from a couple of small teething troubles, which were very easy to deal with, she’s great to have around. Her temperament is perfect, she’s fab with people/children /other dogs and has never shown any aggression of any sort. Everybody warms to her straight away.

We absolutely adore her and she does us.

Looking forward to many more years with our gorgeous girl    

wooooooooooooooooooof    xxxxx


Eileen writes: "Here is Bracken, my little helper. She is guiding me along the streets on the frame just like a proper guide dog. She walks to my pace and listens to my commands on the way round so we can enjoy our walk together...... 

...... and Sasha's 15th birthday pic."

................. and here is Sasha enjoying her Christmas stocking


Eileen said. "I've noticed Bracken has learnt a few more bits from Sasha along the way: she gets soft toys from the box, opens the back door to the garden with her head and licks Sasha's bowl round whilst Sasha is licking hers round after their meals! She also now takes herself out the garden to be clean after each meal, hanging around up the back end of the garden where Sasha potters around. She would never go further than half way before, but we still as yet had not a sound from her. But I'm not bothered about it at all as Sasha has hardly ever barked in the whole of her 15 and a half yrs.

Bracken is still great with everybody she comes in contact with, and other dogs and is never a problem in the car or at the vets - so all in all 18 months on she's done so well and of course she's adored by everybody.

So looking forward to the spring when we can get out and plan our newly laid garden. Then she can spend many happy hours with me and Sasha out there and in the park of course which is all being reinvented so should be lovely for her when it's all finished as its a compete mess over there at the moment."

SAD NEWS 25/02/2011

Eileen and Bracken are 2 sad girls again. After having a major stroke at home, 2 days in the vets where she suffered 2 big fits / no movement apart from being able to lift her head, we had to put our lovely Sasha to sleep yesterday.

Another angel now at Rainbow Bridge. Run free Sasha.



Eileen’s Golden Girl - 2 years on

Well, here we are just over 2yrs on from when Bracken first came into our lives. There has never been any doubt in my mind that she was meant for us. Sadly, last October we lost her dad Ray and then in February sadly Sasha went to Rainbow Bridge, so there are just the two of us now.
However, together we have managed to support each other through the tough times and Bracken has been a tower of strength to me. Bracken has maintained her star quality - she welcomes everyone she comes into contact with, whether its adults, children or animals. She has the most wonderful temperament you could wish for and everyone falls for her charm

Bracken learnt many new things from watching Sasha go about the daily routine of a normal home life which she had been denied for most of her life and is now very confident. She had a little setback with her health recently but fortunately all is ok now and hopefully will stay that way. Here’s to another happy year together.





Bracken and I spent two days with my sister at Easter. Kath has four grandchildren who had never met Bracken before and they are normally very wary of dogs. But Bracken soon had them all stroking her and tickling her tummy. She was also a big hit with those adults who had not met her before. They all said how calm, gentle and well behaved she was around the children. Later, after lunch, the children wanted to take Bracken for a walk, so with parent’s permission, the two four year olds shared taking her lead with Kath and I either side. She walked so calmly with them, then halfway round changed to the thirteen and six year olds.  On the last leg Kath asked to walk her as she had lost Brandy,
Sasha’s sister, a couple of years ago. Everyone so enjoyed sharing Bracken and of course, she loved all the attention. 

When it came to dinner time the children all wanted to feed her, so I split the food into four separate portions so they all had a turn. Bracken was thrilled to get fed four times mmmmmmmmmm!!!  What an auntie has to do to keep the little ones happy! So we all had a very enjoyable day and Bracken slept peacefully at Kath’s all night long.

Earlier in the year we were invited to Keith’s girlfriend for lunch. This was Bracken’s first visit and after greeting Heidi and Laura she promptly found Bob the cat’s bed and took it over for the rest of the day, much to everyone’s amusement. The picture shows how comfy she made herself - and just to show how she charms her way into everyone’s heart, she has been invited to visit again. Poor Bob spent most of the time upstairs on Laura’s bed – don’t suppose he minded too much though!  

Bracken's Birthday Pictures 1st May 2012

Eileen's Golden Girl 3 years on

Well here we are three years on and Bracken is still as lovely as ever. Her temperament has never faltered  in any way, she’s so happy to meet anyone who comes her way – human, doggie or child - plus being excellent at the vet and in the car.  It seems as though she has always been with me.
When she arrived she was so pleased to meet Sasha and formed a lovely bond with her. But she missed Sasha so much when she went to Rainbow Bridge, however she watched and learned a lot from Sasha which she still uses today in her own way. I think it is because of this that Bracken has been such a great strength to me since Ray died. 
She now has a new friend called Claude, the kitten who lives next door. Claude has taken to popping in every day but Bracken is so laid back and content that he doesn’t worry her in the least, she just watches his antics with amusement. 
One of Bracken’s greatest achievements is the dreaded shed. When she came she seemed to take against the shed and would not go anywhere near it for over two years. Then gradually she began to walk past it on her own and one day I left the door open and she looked inside. However last week we had the big breakthrough. We went to my daughter in law’s allotment where there is a massive shed. First Bracken just lay down outside, then after some while we saw she had plonked herself down right in the doorway – well, I couldn’t believe it – she’s still learning new things every day!!!!!!
What more can I say other than it must be obvious we all adore her.



I've had so much fun this year to tell you about  & a few tricks I've come up with to tell you about.

Mum & I have gone on quite a few trips to family & stayed over. We're going for another sleepover on
Saturday till Tuesday (cant wait for that).

It's been exciting  to have different walks etc  & being introduced to family children I'd not met before.  
They soon all wanted to walk & feed & play with me......great fun. Also in our local park I've met lots of
new doggie friends   I have a special one named Buster (a Dachshound Cross) but he will be moving
soon so I will miss him.

A few times Maria (Mum's friend) has bought Druid to visit us. He is nice but I just ignore him as
he's a bit bouncy to say the least but he is only just two.  Oh & we are having Mum's family here for a
special occasion  (heard something about a barbie).  I liked the last one we had at Sharon's in Chatham
cos I nicked a sausage or was it a burger??? It was good fun, though, & everyone was laughing
including me!

 Now for my tricks..............

In the park is where trick no 1 comes in...............I heard mum say that I walk so slowly round the
park nowadays (almost doing dolly steps whatever that means in human terms) but hasn't it dawned on
her that the slower I go the more friends I meet & the more fuss I get? plus I get sooo much
longer in the park   hehheheheheehhhe

Trick no 2 ... I haven't really made a sound since I was adopted - but why should I ? when I can get
everything I want by just giving a glance here or a nudge there or a wag of my tail or a roll of the eyes etc etc.
It's really not hard work for a girl of 12 yrs. Don't tell Mum but I think I could make a noise if I wanted to
but I'm not gonna   wooooooooooooooooooooooof cos that would make her jump out of her skin.
One day I might try it. Oh, nearly forgot, I also tap dance on the kitchen floor waiting for my meals .......  
that does the trick nicely.

Trick no 3 .... I have learnt to greet people when Mum goes to the street door. I stand there for ages
wagging my tail to get the maximum fuss I possibly can ..... it always works.                     

Trick no 4 ..... oh this is my favourite. When  I'm walking round the block........ for a change cos Mum likes
to change the route ..... if I spot anyone I think will stroke me & give me fuss I know just how to get
the attention & compliments. I just sit put, stare into space & won't move one inch. Mum just has
to give in until I've worked my magic once again  & I get to go home my way ......  
its just soooooooo doggie funny.   

Trick no 5 .....  I've even got the vets under my spell. I'm always on my very bestest behaviour for them
when I'm there  & guess what? I get extra special treats ( yum yum). I did hear one of the
nurses say I was a special girl.

And, for my last trick,  no 6 ....... wait for it ...... it's a great one. I now go out for a wee or poo in the
garden all by myself, without being asked ......  isn't that great? It's only taken 4yrs. Mum is on a high !!!!

Well, that's it folks .... what a trick to end on whew !!!! Time for a nice snooze now on my new rug.
Hope you can tell how happy & content I am in my forever home in London.
lots of love, licks and kisses    BRACKEN







2016 Irish Retriever Rescue