After the initial excitement of getting used to my new home, life continued apace. I was really unsure as to whether I would be living here for a long time or whether I was only around until another home could be found for me. I sometimes saw my humans getting frustrated with me, because they didn’t understand my arooo, and I didn’t understand what they wanted me to do. This was difficult as we were struggling to get to grips with us all living together and it was only the first few weeks. I was trying really hard, and so were they, but something was missing.
One day, after I had been here for a couple of weeks, we went for a ride in the car. We arrived at somewhere called a Dog Training School. This is what my humans said it was called. Now, I can’t read words so I had to rely on them telling the truth, but this place seemed to be quite interesting and exciting to me. Once we got inside, I realised that I was there to teach the humans how to look after me. They were being taught how to tell me off, how to make me come and sit, and generally what to do to try and take better care of me. It was fun sometimes when I was learning new things, but my humans were being told to shout at me, because the instructor was trying to teach them to dominate. I didn’t like this, and when I looked at them, I don’t think they did either. We went back twice more, and the lessons were quite fun to begin with, and I got some treats if I was a good boy. But there was still this shouting going on, and I was liking it even less each time and my humans were also not happy. I’m a rescue dog, I wasn’t being naughty, I just didn’t understand what I was needed to do. When we left after the third session, I heard them talking about it and how they weren’t going back. It was the last time, we were on our own. This was part of the adventure and we were in it together. This was going to be fun. We were our own little pack and we would work it out on our own.
I am a scent hound and a Beagle Harrier. The last part is important as will become apparent later in my life, on a number of occasions. I think I missed out on my puppy training when I was, well, a puppy. This meant I was now expected to be a grown up dog, without all the good puppy traits I should have received. I wasn’t being aggressive or bad, I just followed what my senses were telling me to do. And, being a Beagle Harrier, I am very stubborn. So, we decided that we would try and work on my obedience on our own as it was clear the Dog Training School hadn’t worked for us. When I woke up we would go out for a walk to heel on the lead. After a few weeks, I got a harness because I was pulling and panting so much that I was hurting myself. One time leading up to getting the harness, I tried a choke chain and I pulled so much that I made myself sick. I just wanted to explore. It was still difficult to communicate with my humans, and we all really struggled with each other in trying to explain what we wanted. I was with my humum for most of the days, and I could see that she was becoming more frustrated each time I didn’t, or couldn’t, do what she asked me to do. I had sad ears because I wanted to do the right thing but it was difficult as I didn’t know what they wanted either. This upset us all. I was trying to be a good fur, I was trying to do the right thing and she was being really patient with me. Whenever we went out for a walk, it turned into something akin to me pulling her through the lanes, fields and woods near where we live. I kept on getting stopped and told to walk nicely, or to heel, but this wasn’t really working as my senses were overtaking the command and only my nose was working properly, albeit on overtime. I would get walked through different places so it didn’t get boring for me or humum, which was of course always welcomed.
We didn’t meet many other furs at first, we tended to walk on our own as I could be quite over exuberant. Also I didn’t have many manners when it came to meeting other dogs. It didn’t seem to matter to me whether they were a Rottweiler or a Dachshund, they got the same treatment with tail wagging, much aroooing and then I would approach them without looking at the warning signs being given off. I usually met the other dogs in the park or in the fields near by, and sometimes they would be off lead. I did wonder if I would ever be let off lead. The other furs looked like they were having so much fun, whizzing round the field or park, leaping through the tall grass and crops and playing together. This made me feel quite sad inside, I wanted to go and say hello and play along with them, but I knew that I had much work to do with my humans so I decided that sniffing and pulling on the lead was about the best I was going to do. We met some furs quite regularly and I started to see when I was better not to approach them with my usually gusto and like a whirlwind. Some of the furs were much bigger than me and sometimes when they growled I knew it wasn’t a good idea to pounce all over them. There was one time in the park though that I was just sniffing around and a lady dog wandered towards me. I thought I should be polite and nice and I didn’t try to leap on her, as she was a bit bigger than me. I then heard her growl and she bit my neck and ear. This was very painful as she didn’t let go despite me asking her nicely to stop biting me. I had blood in my ear as there was a little bite mark and tear on the inside of my ear. Mum and dad were really upset for me, but they were equally angry with the human who had the dog off lead and he didn’t have control over the lady dog. On the other hand I must tell you about a Bernese Mountain Dog called Mikaela, who was so nice and we had so much fun that when she sat on me, I didn’t mind. In fact it was quite fun as we are pals.
One day we were out on a normal walk and mum spoke to another person who said what a handsome dog I was. This gave me proud ears that someone said I was handsome. Mum and the man spoke about me and he asked if I was like this all the time. She said that they were trying to walk me to heel much more often to try and break the hunting trait. He said that she might try to get me to walk nicely for the first part and then to allow me to go and explore when I was in the fields. He said to control what you can, and manage what you cannot. I’m not sure if she really believed him at first, but we tried it a little bit. It took some time just to get used to walking nicely to heel for some parts of the walk and then allowed to go and sniff to my hearts content. We tried the good walking close to the house. There is a busy road so it was good practice for me. Also I had bad memories about my accident with the car, and mum saw that I was still a bit scared when walking close to traffic. I think I was starting to understand what was wanted of me and I tried my best to be good. I knew that once we got to the field or park I could go off to the end of the lead and I could sniff, hunt and wander about as I pleased. Mum seemed a bit more pleased with me after a few weeks, but I think she was still struggling with the lead and the constant thought that I might try to escape. My sensory overload tended to get the better of me and I struggled to remember the right things to do instead of trying to run away.
I was settling in a little more, and Dog Training School was a dim and distant memory. It was time to try and see if we could continue and improve my understanding of some of my training, somewhat later than anticipated. Mum and I had been practising the heel walking near the road, with me being allowed to go and sniff the scents across the fields and woods once we were away from the dangers of the traffic.
It was difficult as we still didn’t really know what we all wanted from one another. We were trying to work on how we were going to get me to feel more settled. Because I had not had any real formal training, and I had been in rescue, I was still quite unsure if I was going to stay for a long time. Indeed I didn’t know if this was another temporary home. I wanted it to be my forever home, I was trying to settle, I really was. I was starting to get used to my surroundings. I needed stability. The humans took me out each day, sometimes morning and afternoon. I had a really good sniff around and got a walk which was of course nice. The local town was a bit cold and dark in the early winters mornings, but it felt good to be out and about with a bit of freedom. At home I was being really well looked after, and there seemed to be quite a few beds making an appearance. More beds are of course welcomed with open paws. Having beds in different rooms, as well as the trust starting to build in me, seemed to help me settle a bit and feel more comfortable in the house. I was starting to trust these two humans as well, but it was quite a slow and cautious approach from me. Having been in rescue, been homed, rejected and then back to rescue, I needed a little time to really feel as if I was staying. I still had the same question going through my head; was this forever or was I going to be back to rescue. I needn’t have worried as it turns out, as this is my forever home and these are my forever parents.
To illustrate the connection building between my parents and me, I must recount a story. One day I think I ate something in the garden which didn’t agree with me. I wasn’t my usual self, feeling a bit poorly. That night I was unfortunately really ill and I felt so ashamed and sad that I hadn’t been able to wait until I was in the garden. The humans heard me and when they saw the mess, I thought they would be really angry with me, so I went and hid in the corner of the room. I was shaking through feeling ill and, I have to admit, being worried in case they were upset with me. But they looked at me with so much love and understanding that my heart was starting to fill with some love and affection for them. I got taken out into the garden and the mess was cleaned up. I needed to go again when I was in the garden because I felt so bad. That same night, my mum stayed out of bed to watch over me and make sure that if I needed to go outside again, I could go quickly. This made me feel a bit better and I started to feel that there was a bond growing between us all, indeed that they liked me a bit. My illness went on for about three days and mum slept in the living room with me for al three days. On the third day itself, they decided I should go back to the vet lady because I couldn’t eat anything and I was losing weight really quickly. I was put on a diet of delicious chicken and rice but it was quite small portions and my tummy still felt empty. At first I didn’t like this “feeling ill” idea as all I wanted to do was eat. But after a while I realised it was ok, and once I had been eating smaller portions for some days I felt strong again. There are some more trips to the vet which I recount later, but overall I am not too sickly or injured, thankfully.
That my mum would sit up and watch me for three nights in a row showed me that there was a bond growing. They wanted me to succeed and there was hope for the future.