Five years in their forever home and how time flies. Five years ago we found two frightened, abandoned pups at the local dog rescue. Look what gorgeous boys they grew into. We named them Ringo and Spud.
Coming To Their Forever Home
Ringo and Spud were in a bad state when we got them home. They had a giardia infection, with dreadful diarrhea, which needed immediate treatment. The kennel had already started treatment for skin infections and parasites, which we continued. The puppies were malnourished. So many problems! They hadn’t long been at the kennels when we took them home, just a matter of days.
The brothers were and continue to be inseparable. Gawd help us if one has to go to the vet and the other has to stay at home. We had to do that recently as Spud had to go the vet and with Covid restrictions we can’t go en masse. We usually take both the dogs as it is so much easier! But this time it was not to be and Ringo was at home with me but inconsolable. He howled and screamed and wailed until his brother came home.
Their separation anxiety when we leave them alone has improved thank goodness. Getting them to understand this is their forever home and they are safe has taken a lot of time and patience. The boys still have some issues that we are working with. It is such a long job!
They still associate being abandoned with us getting in the car and going out together. They were dumped from a car on the road when they were discarded like rubbish as puppies. That clearly made a huge impression on them. They have no problem if we go and work on the land because they have finally learned that we are still around. But if they see the car go up the drive all hell breaks loose!
Seeking Professional Help
We did see an animal psychologist at one point to see if we could get some further help with their anxieties. In his opinion, Ringo had largely forgotten the past but Spud carried it around with him like a dark cloud. He suggested antidepressants for Spud which we declined.
He asked us what we wanted to do with them. We enthusiastically responded that we wanted to take them for walks down by the lake and take them to meet friends for coffee etc. He shook his head and said that might be what we want but clearly what Spud, in particular, wants is just to stay in his safe space which is home near us. That made us look at things in a slightly different way I have to say!
Forever Home = Safe Space
We set about making their forever home, their safe space, an even better place for them to be. Clearly we were not going to be taking them out on all those lovely lakeside walks we had envisaged. We put in a large dog run that they can run around in safely with a nice bench for us to sit on and look at the views. That way they get lots of additional exercise off the leash as well as the structured five walks per day on leash.
We found some natural remedies that really helped calm them down. A plug-in for the room and also a spray we could use on their bedding. As well as something to use if they have to go out in the car.
Things have improved enormously but it has taken time and patience. We have reached a point where we can go out in the car and leave them for about an hour and a half. This is pretty good when originally it was minutes before they started eating the furniture! It seemed to take ages to get to this point, starting with just picking up the car keys as if we were going out and putting them back on the rack. We gradually built up to being able to go outside and down the stairs and through the gate to the car. Then switch on the engine. You get the idea. A long, slow process of building their trust which is ongoing.
Psychological and Emotional Scars
The boys were three months old when we got them and they had undergone so many terrors in their little lives. Some of which only came to light from their behaviour. They are still terrified of hoses and water, of people walking towards them holding anything that looks like a stick. They won’t run after balls because they are terrified of objects being thrown. I leave it to your imagination what those poor puppies suffered before they were finally abandoned.
Ringo and Spud are terrified of Italian men talking! Though there is much improvement, Spud can still go catatonic with fear. Like the day I was walking them and three Italian men walked up the track at the side of our house talking really loudly. I had to carry Spuddy indoors. Thinking in terms of ‘safe space’ these men had invaded Spud’s safe space and his reaction was complete shutdown. It was heart breaking.
Happy Little Guys
In spite of all the issues we have encountered, we love the boys to bits and our world revolves around them and our cats. We are so glad we found them. We can finally begin to understand how some people take on a rescue animal and then have to take it back because they can’t cope with it. This was never an option for us, it is a lifetime commitment and was from get go. We knew they would take work although perhaps we underestimated quite how much. There have been a lot of frustrations, tears and wrecked furniture but our lives have been enriched by these two happy little guys. Happy Fifth Anniversary boys!
Related Short Story
I wrote a short story about how we came to find the puppies. All written from their perspective! You can read it here.
Before you go
My name is Dorothy Berry-Lound an artist and writer. You can find out more about my art and writing at https://dorothyberryloundart.com.
Thank you for reading!