Rescue Dog to Assistance Dog

A short story about a Big Journey, Charlie the yellow Lab was found abandoned, distressed and disorientated running up and down the main street in the little fishing village of Fuseta.

We received a telephone call from a friend who was involved with a rescue organisation and knew we lived on Planet Labrador, could we foster him until they could find a new home for him?  

Six months down the road and Charlie had settled in with his Lab companions to such an extent that we knew he was something special!  By chance I was watching a programme about assistance dogs and what they are achieving and this got me thinking, could I train Charlie to help me as my MS had suddenly moved up a gear and I was suffering balance problems and having to use a stick all the time.

Enter Karin from Pawsitive Dogs, I thought I knew everything about training Labs as I had had them for 30 years, how wrong could I be! My knowledge was like a water droplet on a furnace door! Karin has mentored me in training Charlie not only as an Assistance Dog but a constant companion who alerts me when I am having a relapse before it become full blown!   When I go up and down stairs he is always there beside me pushing against the side of my leg to aid my balance and when I sit down he will pull me up again by his special harness, just one command PULL. When we go out into town he is always in Working Mode with his harness on he aids my balance, stops at kerbs so I do not trip up them and when we get to a zebra crossing he will wait until the audible bleeping starts before crossing. If we go into a restaurant he will reverse under the table which is a very difficult task for a dog because of the shape of their rear legs but he has mastered that and lays down out of the way! And so the list go’s on, his latest achievement is when my phone rings with the Pink Panther Theme Charlie will retrieve it and bring it to me without me saying a WORD, just the ringtone.

We are nowhere near the end of the Journey yet our goal is to fly to the UK with Charlie in the cabin with me which he is entitled to but to achieve this we have to overcome the interpretation of the rules by UK Airlines. Well that is the end of the short story, more to follow when Charlie qualifies and reaches our Goal but a huge thank you to Karin Forster of Pawsitive Dogs who without her help and dedication none of this would have been possible, but perhaps the biggest thank you go’s to Charlie who has given me back my independence! I no longer need a stick when I am out as Charlie is always there supporting and aiding my blance!

Terry Nightingale

Noa the Great Dane Pup

·       What behaviour / training did you contact me for?

Extrem attention seeking Great Dane girl Noah,

·     What behaviour changes did you notice in your dog?

Much closer to us, more attentive and calmer, we seem to understand each other better!

·      How is your and your dog’s life different now?

More discipline, no shouting, quality time moments, treats in a tupprware box in the fridge :-)

·      Can you name 1 or 2 results that you and or your dog got from working with me?

Sitting down, eye contact, staying down,

big hugs and soggy embraces
Noa and Annelies

Molly the Staffie Rescue from U.K

What behaviour / training did you contact me for?

After many years of being moved from "home to home" my rescue dog Molly suffered from high stress levels, dog aggression, toy and food aggression, and severe separation anxiety. I contacted Karin for help primarily with the separation anxiety as I couldn't even get a good night's sleep.

·     What behaviour changes did you notice in your dog?

Over time Molly has become less anxious and stressed and less aggressive. She is incredibly calm nowadays

·       How is your and your dog’s life different now?

The changes in Molly have been enormous but over quite a long period of time. Initially I couldn't leave her for longer than about 30 minutes.  This was built up to leaving her (with my other dog) for up to 5 hours during the day.  During the night she would not sleep the night through unless she was in my room.  Now she sleeps the night through, outside of my room and there is no longer loud frantic barking and whining early in the morning and she often sleeps through even once I am up.

Molly was dog aggressive and spent months living in my home separately to my other dog, or muzzled. She was full of bravado when out walking and would get aggressive with any other dog that came too close.  Since then, I've welcomed two other dogs into my home and Molly accepted them almost immediately with no aggression after the introductions were done. She is much more relaxed when out walking and there have been no instances of her having to get separate from the other dogs or muzzled in their presence. Molly's toy aggression has gone completely, however, she is still toy possessive given the chance. To this day, we are careful with food around the dogs and although no longer aggressive, Molly has a tendency to snatch at food.

Our life now is like chalk and cheese, it is so hard to compare to how it was before. To say the first few months of Molly being with us was a living hell, might be a slight understatement!  I seriously questioned my judgement in taking her on. But now, she has proven that with a secure home, the correct training, behavioural guidance and endless patience, she can be and is a wonderful loving dog and family member.

    Can you name 1 or 2 results that you and or your dog got from working with me?

Molly is a completely different dog since working on her behavioural issues started, so its hard to pick out only 1 or 2 things. Whilst addressing her separation anxiety was my main priority, understanding that this was a symptom of something else going on was key.  She is not anxious when I've been out and come home - she is just very happy to see me.  She is not dog aggressive, or stressed but rather nonchalant and laid back. She respects her place "in the pack" and takes her lead from me, behaving according to instruction - even knowing what is expected when I raise my hand up, or point my finger, or put my hands on my hips - she's an expert at reading body language lol!

I cannot thank you enough for the help and guidance and direction you gave me with Molly. It is not worth thinking about what "could have been" if we had not addressed the problems so soon in to her coming to live with me.

All the best

Leanne and Molly

PS Arnie is no longer with us and was put to sleep on 9th April.  But I now have Kiko and Kermie who live in harmony with Molly.