Lovely Jo at Fiddlesnips posted about her darling dog Rosie-Mae. (You will find her on my sidebar and I would urge you to go and visit). Jo's post prompted me to write about the newest edition to our animal family. This little sweety is Ripley when he first came home with us. As cute as a button and sadly .... neurotic as they come. He is still with us and I now adore him, but, it has been a long hard road for us all.
Poor Ripley came to us straight from the breeder in Oxford. He arrived, terrified of being brushed and of people sneezing (but, not of the shooters shooting their guns!). He didn't listen to a word we said, despite taking him to training classes, reading all the books and getting all the advice we could. He was very obedient when it came to commands, but, a law unto himself. The trainer described him as 'super-intelligent but sly' (which I didn't like!) and, she bred Border Collies.
We got through the puppy stage by the skin of our teeth and with me on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Walking him was a nightmare. He was aggressive to other dogs, bit a man who's dog had attacked him, hassled our other dog who was elderly and turned on our two cats. I was, honestly, at the point of giving up on him and I'm really not a quitter.
One day, in desparation I spoke to the trainer who told me he needed to see a Dog Behaviourist and she gave me the number of Robert Alleyne who appeared in the tv series 'Dog Borstal'. He, she told me, would be able to help but if not, the dog would have to be destroyed.
Rob came and spent four hours here with us questioning us about Ripley's behaviour and ours! He was a lovely, charming man with a really down to earth approach. He encouraged me to have the confidence in the dog which I'd lost and to buy a remote control collar which delivers a puff of compressed air when the dog is doing something we'd rather he didn't. This was pretty often pre-collar! He'd eat horses poo, chase cars, chase cyclists, joggers, horses - the list goes on. I was so stressed and so distressed at the idea of having to have him destroyed. Robs visit and the collar, which I've hardly had to use have made such a difference.
Ripley is now a happy dog, who looks to me (or Rowan) to check if his behaviour is acceptable or not. He knows now that he is ours and we, are his. He gets it! Finally and, not a moment too soon. He is a pleasure to walk now and has gained confidence in us and in himself and we, equally, respect that he will seize each opportunity to succeed that we present him with. It is still, early days but I am confident that, with our continued training, we can provide him with the best home for him. He is sweet natured, gentle, loyal and funny and I am no longer a frazzled, half scared to death dog owner and I'm looking forward to our lives together. Until recently, I never thought I'd be saying that.