Owning a rescue dog (and all of its love and troubles)

About ten years ago, one guy got fed up of his neighbours mistreating their dog, starving her and keeping her outside in the cold. He posted about how he wanted to rescue her and take her to someone who would love her and treat her kindly (he was unable to look after her himself.) My dad saw his post, and decided he had to give her a chance. He drove for miles up north met the neighbour, and decided there was no way he would come back without her once he saw her. He brought her back home, and she exploded into our lives with a bang.

Within seconds of setting my eyes on this poor, starved dog who had no front claws at all (from jumping up at the neighbours wall when he sneaked food out to her, we later learnt) I fell in love. We all felt excited about having her, until we quickly realized how much it would take to tame her, and gain her trust.

IN THE BEGINNING

It took us all of 5 minutes to learnt that she wasn’t house trained. IN EVERY. SINGLE. WAY. She ran straight into one of my step-sister’s bedrooms and pissed on her bed. And done it on my dad and his partner’s bed. She chased the cats from the excitement, and our darling kittens didn’t come inside for two days. She dared to go near my cat (who was Satan in fur) and received a bloody big scratch for her troubles. She hid all of her food at first, a defense mechanism from where she had hardly been fed. She would eat some food incredibly quickly, and then pick up her bowl, take it off to her bed and eat the rest of it there. Any treats where buried in her bed, my dad’s bed and about every nook and cranny possible. Within a few days she had either peed or pooped on everyone beds. Apart from mine because I was sensible ruled by the cat who allowed no one bar her human slave in her kingdom. She chewed shoes. She chewed through bin bags. It had gotten so strained within a week that my Dad’s partner told him that if the kittens didn’t start coming back in she had to go. I cried my eyes out, for it was unfair to both the kittens and poor, poor Brody. I remember seeing the kittens sitting out in the rain, and wishing we could all come together.

THE RAIN AFTER THE STORM

I think it was a matter of days after my dad’s partner saying that Brody would have to go that the kittens finally came in and she learnt that she didn’t have to chase them. Things are starting to get better. Brody was pretty much house trained, everyone wised up and kept their bedroom doors shut so there couldn’t be any more accidents. We still had issues to work through. Brody, for all her love and affection, still hated and was terrified of somethings. I remember clearly throwing a can of deodorant to one of the girls when they asked to borrow it, over Brody’s head, and she cowered. It was one of the most heartbreaking things I had ever seen. Somebody (my dad, says it all really) decided it would be great if we taught Brody to bark. Which was great until she barked at EVERYTHING. Parked cars, cars driving past, people walking past, every single dog, the cloud shadows floating through our garden. You name it, she barked at it. She hated the hoover and would attack the hoover pole at every opportunity, and continuously bark at it. She would eat one of Leaf’s shoes on a regular basis. She would carry on smelling Mally’s bum and get swiped for her efforts. However, she blossomed with all the love we gave her, and she gave us no end of affection, especially my dad, who she just simply adored. She got along well with Kayla, our German Shepard, and all of the cats bar mine. (Mally hated everyone apart from me, so we didn’t expect much from her). At some point Brody taught herself to jump over the garden fence, and this became troublesome. She would just take herself out for walks, and someone would always bring her home. One day Dad told us about how he was around the corner from home, and found her sitting on the corner of the road, looking pleased as punch when he came over to her. So we had to plant hedges to stop the little shit from going AWOL and possibly hurting herself. This caused no end of trouble with the neighbours, but we couldn’t let our little nugget get lost or hurt.

Brody and Kayla

(Brody and Kayla in the picture above)

Training

Despite Brody picking up the house training well, everything else went to pot. Months we spent teaching her paw, only for her to slide out form her weight every time we picked up her paw. Deciding it was a lost cause we started to not try so hard with her, only for a cousin to come round, ask her paw and she done it! Basically, she only learnt what she thought she needed, which made it really amusing, and kept us on our toes! I remember one Christmas we kept finding celebration wrappers around the house, and it was only the Bounty chocolate one that was being left. We was complexed as to who it was as none of us liked it, and then realized in horror it must of been Brody! One day we all piled into the kitchen, and looked on into the living room to look through the latch to see if it was her. She went to the bowl we kept them in, sniffed out the Bounty one, put her paw down on one side, twisted her head, bit the other side, twisted her head back to unwrap it,  and got her chocolate! We couldn’t believe she had done this, and quickly moved the chocolates so she couldn’t get to anymore.

Another things Brody had no interest in learning was recall. The first time Dad let her off the lead, she made a break for it as she caught the scent of a rabbit, and Dad luckily managed to find her with the help of Kayla. Even now, after all this time and our continuous efforts to train her, she wouldn’t come back if we let her off the lead, and she used to pull until the last few months, old age has done something to her!

I’ve managed to train her to do a few things. Together we’ve mastered paw and other paw, high five and what I call the ‘bro paw.’ The best thing about these? She will not do them for Dad. Even if he has a treat or a nice piece of meat for her, she will just walk away from him and it’s just bloody hilarious! Another thing I’ve taught her to do is keep still for when I brush her, and it’s another glorious thing she will not do for my dad at all.

THE LAST HOUSE

When my dad and his girlfriend broke up, we moved back to Nan’s, at first without Brody. We felt it would of been too unfair for her to be moved into another house, away from the one place she felt safe in, away from her dog buddy and to be put into a completely different environment. About a month later my dad got a phone call saying that we had to take Brody, as she was rather wild and behaving badly without him. Apparently she had been growling at the workmen coming into my dad’s ex girlfriends house, she wouldn’t go for walks, wouldn’t really eat and kept escaping. My dad said yes to her coming back instantly. She was home and with us within the hour.

She was better behaved for my dad, but boy did she sulk! She refused to acknowledge him once her initial excitement wore off, only sitting with me, and refusing to leave my side. She was moving her food bowl half way through meals, and needing a lot of love. It took her a fair while for her to settle into a quieter house hold, but she soon learnt that my Nan was almost always in, and took advantage of her willingness to give out affection. She showed many signs of anxiety, such as the moving of her food bowl and her following you around. Another new thing she started to do was hiding in the cupboard under the stairs and curl up at the far end, once she taught herself to unlock the door. Her going into her cupboard was a sign of her starting to feel anxious about her being left on her own.

There was a day when my Dad had come home to find the house trashed. I remember it clearly, it was Valentine’s Day 4/5 years ago. My Nan was away, Dad and I had been out at work all day. Dad had come home to find that Brody has completely emptied her cupboard, shredded her lead, collar and chewed the end off her brush. She had also gone into the bin cupboard and pulled the bag out without ripping it, and had eaten the remains of last night’s spag bol and the contents of the empty ashtrays. Oh, and garlic bread, which we later found buried down the back of the sofa and in little piles up the stairs. She taken some rubbish through to the living room, and then taken herself off upstairs to throw up in my Dad’s lovely clean bedding. She had thrown up a mixture of spag bol and fag butts in the pillows, re-eaten it and then thrown up again and buried it inside the pillows themselves. Brody had then gone and puked in Nan’s bed seeing as Dad hadn’t of shut her door properly. It was like the day she came home all over again, complete carnage in every room bar mine because I’m sensible and kept the bloody door shut. Needless to say, I found it hilarious as I had know  Brody had done something wrong by how quickly she had greeted me at the door. Importantly, our lesson was learnt: Brody just wasn’t settled enough to be left on her own all day.

Fast forward to now: Brody is more than happy to be left on her own, she quickly got used to it when Nan had to go away and look after Great Nan before she passed away. My Nan spent weeks away at a time, and although she had been on holiday’s before and Brody was fine, she had to get used to it and she did. My boyfriend, my brother or one of my friends come and sit with her if we are going out in the evening. Evening’s are still a time that makes Brody anxious to be left alone, especially around firework and thunderstorm season. I remember running home to be with her as it has started to rain and rumble, and I didn’t want my poor baby being alone and scared. She also used to be super scared of fireworks, she used to cower and shake so badly. She expressed all of the signs of being anxious, including a lot of lip licking. Now, she barks at them like she’s telling them off, and I’m so proud of her for overcoming that fear. She still doesn’t like thunderstorms, but I know of plenty of dogs that don’t. She still hates being cold, she still hates the rain but loves her head being towel dried (yeah I’m confused about that one as well. We just couldn’t get a ‘normal’ dog could we?) She will snuggle up to you in bed to the point where you’re on the edge of the bed. Which has just reminded me, she taught herself how to get under the covers so the duvet was covering her whilst her head was on the pillow, which is really, REALLY FRICKEN CUTE GUYS. SERIOUSLY. She never used to scrounge, but now does (someone has been really naughty *tuts*) She still doesn’t listen to my Nan, but she loves a good fuss, still loves meeting my friends, still loves eating things she isn’t fucking supposed to. She still decides who I date, thankfully she loved my boyfriend of over 2 years the moment she met him and still loves him. She hated the last one, and he turned out to be a complete jackass, so there’s a dating tip guys: If your pet hates them, ditch them. All in all, she’s just an older chilled dog who loves being a mischievous shithead and being given attention. Still hates baths though, just ask Meg.

HER SPECIAL TRAITS:

She’s so sensitive to people who are sick or pregnant, and super gentle with kids. When Leaf was expecting her twins, she made sure she didn’t bump into her or tread on her toes like she did with us. She would curl up with her head on Leaf’s bump. When the twins arrived she was so gentle and caring with them, in fact she was so much better than Kayla was! She had to much patience with them, I remember one of them falling asleep on her and she didn’t move for the next few hours they were asleep. Whenever they cried she would run to them. I had friends over one night, and my friend’s girlfriend was pregnant and Brody didn’t try and bounce all over her. She was super gentle with her, sitting at her feet and being so caring. When Nan’s friends came over with her daughter and grandchildren Brody was so well behaved again. Their 5 year old grandchild was nervous of dogs, and it was like she knew. She didn’t rush and run about, she sat within their arm reach, and waited for them to pet her before she came closer. She adored the baby though, and just sat there whilst the baby played with her. Finally, one of my Nan’s friends had cancer, and she had popped over to see my Nan. Brody didn’t jump up once or try to climb into her lap for a cuddle, she waited until she was sat and settled before she went to her for some attention. She’s naughty, but she’s so adorable that when she is naughty she makes you laugh! When I was sick with a kidney infection she spent the weekend in my bed with me, snuggled up in the single bed I had back then, and she HATED the lack of space. She’s super special, my girl. I love her.

Why I wanted to write about Brody

I wanted to write about my beloved rottie cross as I wanted to show people that dogs that have come from difficult backgrounds aren’t always dangerous or vicious, and they often can bring so much wonder and joy to our homes and hearts. However, they do need a lot of love, patience and understanding. A lot of thinking needs to be done. Do you have a home that will suit one? Can you give them the home they need? Are you prepared for having months, possibly years of trying to train a dog out of the habits it has gained from it’s tougher time of living? Will your pets/ children get along with this new addition? Will the new addition get along with them?

We didn’t get Brody the normal way, we know that. I don’t think we have ever considered a rescue dog before, but after having Brody I have changed my mind. I’ve realized that those dogs stuck in rescue shelters all over deserve love and a forever home as much as any other dog.

Brody lived in two awful homes before she came to us. We don’t know much about the first home, but her second ‘family’ (the one we took her from) had adopted her from a rescue shelter, only to use her for breeding puppies and beating her, and keeping her outside when they had no need for her. When the kind next door neighbour had gone round and told them that he had found a new home for her, they weren’t even bothered. They happily gave her away. I have no idea how people can be so cruel and keep a pet that they know they don’t want, or want to look after. I’m just bloody glad we’ve got her. She is a part of our family, and now she’s getting older we are appreciating every extra year we get with her. I didn’t have space for more love for another pet, but she barreled her way into my heart and there she has stayed.

Right, that’s me done, pinky promise. Sorry for the essay, I just bloody love my dog, and want people to realize that rescue dogs are just of deserving. Too many good dogs spend their lives in kennels waiting for their forever home. Go and look around, you might just find your next best friend waiting in one.

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