Working with a rescue dog

Working with a rescue dog is notably heart-warming.  Their new carer often doesn’t know all of their history.  What we do know is that they are now able to live their best life.  But for someone new, like me, getting their trust is very special.  And Bobby was very special.

He is an almost 5 year Romanian rescue – a bit of Collie, Labrador and Hound.  But the eyes are all Bobby.  When he was first adopted in 2017, he had separation issues and was anxious about many things.  But with calming consistent work from his carers, he has blossomed into a wonderful family dog. 

Recently he started to show signs of apprehension again.  It was thought that maybe he was in discomfort, especially from his rear end which he displayed by a “don’t come too near me please” behaviour.

Imagine if you have a constant back ache.  You don’t particularly want random cuddles or people in your face.  Dogs are no different.  But they can’t just phone up a therapist or pop some pills.  Luckily, Bobby’s Mum was able to call a therapist for him and along he came.

He was oh-so-sweet as he walked in.  Looking round surveying the room but within a minute saw the massage mat in the middle and plonked himself down.  My brightly coloured dog sized massage mat has seen that behaviour so often.  “Not sure what to do?  I know….I’ll plonk myself on that lovely colourful place.  It looks safe and me sized.”

He allowed me, and sometimes helped me, find where his issues were.  He had a stiff neck which was probably due to anxious shoulder raising.  But his main tightness was in his lower back.  He had clearly been holding himself quite rigid which would, understandably, be giving him anxiety.

It took a while for him to trust me to work there.  We were helped by treat distractions……good old Primula Cheese tubes, the best solution for any distraction.

After about 40 minutes he looked as though he needed a stretch and went for a walk round our garden.   This has a double use.  The dog can have a well-deserved pee and it means for the next few days our Sam can patrol ‘his’ garden sniffing out the new pee smells.  Win, win.

When Bobby came back it was like he was a new boy.  The old anxious Bobby had shaken himself off in the garden and Mr Relaxed Bobby came back in.  He simply lay down and allowed his Mum and me to work wherever we, or he, liked.  It was a very special moment.  Trust established.  Back pain eased.  Bobby returns.

We ran through some appropriate exercises and I prepared his workbook for his Mum.  She replied “Bobby has literally been a different dog yesterday afternoon he has been smiling and generally seems so much more comfortable. It really was amazing to see the shift in the room. Thank you so much 💓”.  You’re more than welcome Bobby.  You are a special boy.

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