Bilbo & Bella

My love of dogs started at a young age. When I was born we had Bilbo, the beautiful pedigree German Shepard. Brains beyond his comprehension is how I remember him.

This was a dog that once stole a piece of pork out of the microwave when we were away from the house, he ate it and hid the bone down the back of the sofa for it be found about 3 weeks later. Que Bilbo scarpering out of the room faster than any of creature known to man the moment it was unearthed.

He could also take a carton of eggs, nip the top from every one and lick them out. In reality a lot of my memories are probably put there by the stories I have been told over the years, but I’m pretty sure he is the reason I was obsessed with dogs from such a young age.

Unfortunately we came to point as a family where both my mum & dad had to work. It turned out Bilbo didn’t deal too well with being home alone & despite the fact this is not something I would do, my parents re-homed him. He went to a lovely man with a female GSD, i’m sure he loved life after that. I hope so.

Next came a number of years with me begging my parents to get a dog. It involved a lot of my parents shouting at me to leave some strange dog alone. At the age of 9 I caught my Dad at the wrong moment (in other words, drunk) and he agreed – keep your room tidy for 4 weeks and we will get a dog. Well, he didn’t think I would be able to do it, and how wrong he was.

Dad found Bella. A beautiful Staffordshire Bull Terrior. 18 months old. Black and white. The quietest dog in the RSPCA as my Dad used to say. I loved her more than I can describe. Within a couple of months of her coming home I had a double bed, not for me, but so she could sleep with me.

She ended up being my support, and my confidante, through a number of troubled years at school. When the rest of the house were screaming at each other we could be found huddled up in bed, having a cuddle. She only cemented my belief that dogs, ultimately, are better than humans. They love us unconditionally despite our faults and support in ways we didn’t know we needed.

She passed away at the age of 16, pretty good for Staff, and I was heartbroken. I was an adult by the time she passed. I had gone to University, moved out & come back. It wasn’t an easy decision. She lost a lot of weight and it was a decision we had to come too, rather than it being made for us. I wish it had been made for us.

6 months later, I wasn’t ready. But in bounded Reggie and all his personality.

The Journey Begins

An Introduction…

I’m not sure anyone will ever read this, but if even one person with a reactive dog finds this blog and obtains some hope from it I guess I can say it was a good thing to start doing.

Reggie came to us in November 2016. Someone who I used to consider a friend posted online that if the vet wouldn’t put him down then she would contact the police and say she had a dangerous dog – her hope being that he would be shot on site.

I’m a bleeding heart when it comes to dogs. I had met Reggie & could tell he just needed a home suited to his personality. The night she posted that status on Facebook I messaged my Fiance and within 2 hours we had a completely unknown quantity in our home.

Of his history, we don’t know too much. All we know is that he was originally bought to be a guard dog (unsurprising in light of his breed). The guy that bought him worked long hours, in a not so great part of England, and wanted to protect his partner from potential intruders. My ‘friend’ bought him after their relationship break down. Following this Reggie went to live in a small town house, with 4 children and 2 other dogs. It was clear he couldn’t cope.

We did however have the breeders details, little help he was. He sent over his KC papers but was clearly uninterested in the issues being faced by his new owners  – whilst there are many good breeders out there, I’m not sure he is one of them. But, we discovered our Reggie is technically Ripley Prince as per his KC registration – what a royal sounding name! Shame his behaviour doesn’t quite reflect that…

I’ve had dogs prior to Reggie and the first night he was with us I went to wipe the ‘gunk’ from his eyes – like I had so many times with Bella (we’ll come on to her at a later stage) and he growled at me. That was my first warning – this was not a happy dog.

In the weeks and months that’s proceeded I learnt we had a very unhappy and confused dog in our home. He wanted to love us, but he also needed his space. He wanted affection, but he didn’t want to be touched. It was a difficult time.

The worst point came about 2 months down the line. Reggie growled at me, I reacted how I had been taught dogs should be trained. I shouted back, I smacked him on the bum to tell him he was in the wrong. It was the first time I really thought he would attack me. A 52kg dog circling you whilst growling and snapping is a scary thing. I left the house and went and cried in my car for 40 minutes before driving to work. I wondered what on earth we had taken on, and whether we could keep him.

My behaviour was wrong. It damaged our poor boy and its something I will never forgive myself for.

I made it my mission after this to find the right way to train him, the kind & compassionate way to treat him. I will never let anyone hurt him again, I promised I would never hurt him again.