The wonderful Sally Hopkins (of www.dog-games-shop.co.uk and Sprinkles TM fame) about ten days ago adopted a Border Collie from the Dogs Trust Rescue Centre at Evesham, another dog brought over from the dog pounds in Ireland.
You can follow Buddy’s story on her Facebook page.
He is typical of so many of the dogs we behaviour practitioners and trainers meet in the course of our work. The story of Buddy’s start in his new home just shows what a challenge a dog like this must be for the ‘ordinary individual’, even with help, when even a wonderwoman like Sally is having to pull out all the stops.
There are so many dogs like Buddy.
Sally has given a blow by blow account with wonderful videos of his progress so far – a virtual real-life training manual.
Everything was oh so carefully planned for his arrival. She started by visiting him four times to get to know him before bringing him home and slowly discovering his fears, hang-ups, his escalating stress levels – and lack of impulse control.
Once home, to quote Sally, she soon discovered he was ‘An old hand at counter surfing and also jumping on the dining room table from a sit….. A true athlete!’ It’s a story of his slow build in confidence helped by Sally and all her resources. By the third day Sally said, ‘all was a blur of lurching from one experience to another with no pattern or obvious reason as far as he was concerned.’
Bit by bit Sally has been patiently fielding things that have been thrown at her – like his fear of getting into the car; until he can do this she can take him nowhere. Her ‘I Like My Car’ strategies are an instruction manual in themselves.
After one week she sums up the experience so far: ‘The emotional scarring from leaving his first home(s), being in kennels, the traumatic non stop journey from a dog pound in Ireland to a rescue in the middle of the UK – all have taken their toll and he has been lurching from one experience to the next with no emotional energy to develop and grow in his personality and mental maturity. He has just being existing and reacting instinctively, a slave to his high long term stress levels…..’
They are well into the honeymoon period now and Sally sums it up thus: ‘Although I am not surprised how Buddy’s levels of stress fluctuate from one minute to the next I am seeing some really dramatic “boiling over” these last few days when many would call him “unruly” and “out of his mind”. I have learnt to recognise the subtle changes as he gets too close to the top of his “stress glass” and can completely understand how so many people would send a dog such as this back to the rescue centre as “untrainable”.’
Many people having newly homed a rescue dog, clients with dogs from similar backgrounds with similar behaviours, would do well to read Sally’s progress with Buddy. Hopefully, by reading from someone with so much experience, they can absorb her techniques and realise just the degree of patience and commitment needed but also what can eventually be achieved.
A dog like Buddy simply isn’t what many people buy in for and so the dog is returned to rescue. Depressing really.