Let’s imagine that dogs have a similar cognition to humans and let’s use Emily as an example.
Roughly three years ago the Collie cross was abandoned and forced to hide in a small dirt hole somewhere in Hungary to prevent her from being eaten by other dogs similarly left for dead.
At that moment, human head on, could Emily have possibly envisaged a few months later being lauded for bringing together a family in Fife?
Arguably even more far-fetched would have been the thought that she would go on to receive more than 2,500 votes in an international pet competition and be ranked 11th top dog in Scotland.
But instead of contemplating her remarkable story, as one of us might, five-year-old Emily continues to work her magic on her adopted family in Balmullo.
“She really has brought the family together,” says Kim MacFarlane, whose daughter Gemma owns Emily.
‘She was very very quiet and timid’
Emily was born in Hungary and spent her early months being moved between dog pounds.
One of these was abandoned, leaving the dogs locked inside with no food or water. The bigger dogs started to kill the smaller dogs to survive.
Emily hid herself away but was, thankfully, rescued in the nick of time.
“She was only a pup when they found her,” says Claire. “She was just over a year old.”
Emily came to the attention of Gemma, and her partner Ross Mitchell, via the Wags n Wet Noses Facebook page.
The couple collected Emily from Annandale Water services near Lockerbie in March 2019 after a lengthy process in which she was given her vaccinations and dog passport.
“She was very very quiet and timid for a long long time,” says Gemma, who estimates that the settling-in period took around eight weeks.
“It was a rough ride for a while but now she is a funny, cute, lovable fur ball, absolutely adored and fussed over by everyone.”
Emily’s sixth sense
Emily has also demonstrated a ‘sixth sense’ that many dog owners swear by.
Just a month after she arrived, Ross arrived home from his grandfather’s funeral and was understandably emotional as he slumped onto the sofa.
“We were talking about the day and she was watching Ross intently,” recalls Gemma.
“Suddenly she jumped up right next to him and cuddled into him. They then fell asleep together.
“It was as if she knew there was something upsetting him. That was the point Ross really thought that Emily was the dog for us.”
A dog is a dog’s best friend
Gemma lives in the same village as her mum so Emily has been enjoying the attention of two households, which include Kim’s 12-year-old Collie Mac.
“Emily is just the most adorable little thing,” says Kim. “Mac is getting old so Emily keeps him on his toes.
“They regularly go up the hill and run around after each other.
“He is teaching her how to behave like a dog and she is keeping him active so it’s a good balance.
“When Emily first arrived she didn’t know how to behave like a dog, how to interact with humans or how to live in a house so it’s been a huge learning curve for her.
“She’s been over here for two years and the difference has been amazing. She loves cuddles and is a good therapy dog for my sister, who has Down’s syndrome.
“She’s just a lovely bundle of fluff.”
‘She really has brought the family closer’
Emily’s impact on the family has been beautifully positive, says NHS worker Kim, who is married to Richard and also has a son, Cameron (18), who works in land surveying.
“Gemma and Ross live a third-of-a-mile away and we are able to look after Emily when they are at work, and they are able to look after our dog as well.
“We do see a lot more of each other now than we ever did. Before we were like passing ships.
“Now we don’t need an excuse to meet each other, we just say we are going over to pick up the dog.
“It’s great and she really has brought the family closer.”
One of Scotland’s top dogs
Kim has entered Emily into Pup Vote‘s ‘World’s Biggest Pet Photo Contest’, which awards prizes to the top-rated pets.
Ahead of the close of voting on May 1, Emily is Scotland’s 11th most popular dog with almost 3,000 votes.
“It’s heartbreaking that any dog should have to go through that,” Kim says.
“At first she really didn’t take to certain types of men but she has learnt that most people we speak to are not going to harm her. She is now just curious.
“She’s not got a bad bone in her body and it makes you wonder why people abandon dogs like this.
“Every dog deserves a chance and this one is a cuddle monster!”
This article is part of a series for The Courier and Evening Telegraph about people who owe a debt of gratitude to their dog.
We want to talk to more pet owners whose canine companion has helped them come through a tough time in their life.
If you live in Dundee, Tayside or Fife and want to pay tribute to your poochie pal (or pals) please email email@example.com.