ONCE UPON A TIME
Once upon a time there were two dogs, Mick the Mastiff and Derek the rottweiler. They lived in a back garden in Essex. They were bought for a 14 year old boy who thought he wanted them. The two dogs lived in the garden for 3 - 4 years. They did not go out for walks. They met nobody. They had only a plastic corrugated piece of sheeting for shelter from both rain and sun. They were never allowed to step over the patio doors into the house. After 3 years, the boy left home. His mother did not like Mick, so she did not feed him, but she did feed Derek.
Mick got thinner and thinner. They looked out through the gate at the big wide world that they had not been a part of. They were very sad dogs. One day, they broke out of the garden. They went into a neighbouring garden and trampled the flowers. The police were called. Mick and Derek were taken back to their "home". A police officer who saw them felt very sorry for them and phoned the rescue. The owner's father brought the two dogs to the rescue. The rescue cried when they saw the terrible state of the dogs and agreed to take them to give them a better life.
The rescue fed Mick three times a day to ensure that he put on some weight and was no longer starving. The rescue worked hard with the dogs and, very quickly, they were rehomed into kind, loving pet homes......THAT IS THE END OF THE FAIRY STORY.
This is what actually happened....
Peter and Mus worked very hard with the two dogs. Derek was very difficult to walk, being very strong and hard to control. He had not been on a lead for years and was quite aloof. He had now been taught basic commands, other volunteers have joined in working with Derek and he continues to improve. He likes everyone he meets. Mick too had his issues. Mick was inherently fearful. On the first day he went out he went for Shelley. We discussed this and decided that he was stressed, frightened and deserved a chance to settle. As this had happened, we asked the advice of several mastiff people. They all gave us the same advice.....take things slowly. Mastiffs tend to be very much one person dogs, and take a long time to build up trust with someone new. So, we took our time. In the next couple of weeks Pete and Mus did most of the initial work - getting him out of the kennel, walking him, teaching him to take titbits gently from their hand. Mus loved him, calling him "Mickey". Then Shelley joined in, meeting Mick in the field, giving him high value titbits, taking the lead when walking round etc. We never pushed him to do anything he did not feel comfortable with. A couple of weeks later and we really felt we were starting to get somewhere. Shelley had been getting him in and out of kennels, so had Mus and Pete - no problems. He had met many of our volunteers and had become a firm favourite. We had got him interacting with a couple of bitches (Noo-Noo and our own girl, Duchess). He was off lead around the field and seemed to be a happy, nice to know dog. Then, one day, we had Mick off lead in the field. He had been round the field with Duchess, had been his usual self. The walk was almost over. Shelley went to clip his lead back on, as she had done so many times before. With no warning he bit her, going from wrist to shoulder. Peter shouted at him and managed to get Mick to stop - but he then wanted to bite Peter and also Duchess. He was eventually slip leaded back into the kennel. We were both very shocked. We came home and phoned Mus, to let him know what had happened. We all thought and re-thought out what could have caused this to happen. No decisions were made that day. The next day, Peter and Mus went to the kennels and got Mick out. He appeared to have gone backwards and was once again a very frightened, anxious dog. They took him round the field, off lead. But when they got to the gate, he once again, "freaked out". They walked round again and, with difficulty, managed to get him back on the lead and into the kennel. The next day, Mick was so anxious that they were unable to get him out of the kennel at all. We all talked long and hard about Mick's future. He was obviously not rehomeable. We toyed with keeping him in kennels and continuing to work with him. but felt that if Mick had to spend the rest of his life in a kennel, then we would be no better than the owners of this poor, unhappy dog. With a lot of heart searching and much sadness, we had Mick put to sleep a week later. It has made us even more determined to help Derek - and he continued to go from strength to strength - improving daily. This is real rescue - not the fairy story "everything is lovely and we win every time" rescue. We tried very hard. But we failed this poor dog.