Adopting a rescue dog that is a known 'biter' was a first for us. Was it a good move or would it be an unmitigated disaster?
Marrying in 1972 a dog was the last thing on my mind. I was actually quite frightened of dogs. Hubby fancied buying an Alsatian puppy, which for me was a daunting prospect. That is how we came to buy our first dog, a 12-week-old cross Labrador, that was another person's unwanted Christmas gift. He was the sweetest dog ever.
Funny we have said that about all our dogs.
One thing is for sure and that is Drupi, our first dog, cured my fear of dogs. These days I stroke almost all dogs I encounter. I love them all to bits. I tend to have an affinity with these faithful creatures and, since Drupi, all our dogs have been rescued. Drupi lived almost eighteen years but our rescue dogs have not been so lucky.
Maltreated dogs often have ongoing health problems. Physical and mental scars. Benny a stray, Saber a cross breed Alsatian, Leo a beautiful shaggy bundle of love, Jessie a long legged playful gal and now Tinka.
Except in Tinka's case he has yet to become sweet.
Jessie was so sad when Leo was euthanized in August 2010. His heart failure was no longer treatable. Jessie had come to us around eight years earlier, aged around nine months. Leo was already 'part of the furniture'. She came on a foster basis but Hubby could not part with her.
Lesson learned we are not cut out to foster dogs.
During the last couple of years the life went out of Jessie. She lost her sparkle. More often than not she could be found snoozing in her bed. She was tired and listless. We wondered if it was partly as she was developing cataracts.
In true 21st Century style we adopted Tinka by way of Facebook. A charity was posting dogs in need of a home and there he was. Cute as a button. A much smaller dog than we have ever owned. Just what we wanted though for our older years. Aged four he was not a puppy but perhaps he did not know that. He certainly plays like a young pup.
We did the rounds of taking Jessie to meet Tinka or, as he was called then, Tonka. He came to us for a visit and before we knew it he was home. Ours. There was one problem with Tinka though. He is a dog that bites.
Rescued by Oakwood charity, from the pound, successive attempts to re-home him had failed. Physically he has a hang down tail that never wags. It may fly about as he jumps in the air but it does not wag. We were warned about his snappy ways but decided to give him a try.
He has lived with us since early September. In the early days I was bitten twice, once quite deeply. Should he be destroyed for that? No.
He was a scared little thing. His owner had died and he had been passed 'around'. If he became anxious, in pain or frightened he would lash out. He may be a little dog but his teeth are not. No-one would keep him once he had bitten.
Tinka is settling in well. He is less snappy. In fact he is not snappy at all. I will never take him for granted, especially around children, but he is turning into a sweet dog. Kids do love him of course as he looks like a living toy. The rescue charity tells me that is the problem with these dogs. They are often bought as a family pet because of their looks but they can be skittish.
There have been a few challenges already. Tinka does not like to be picked up, until he feels sure of a person. He does not like a person to grab his collar. Bathing was a challenge. Hubby wore a huge pair of motorbike gloves. He held Tinka on a lead. I did the bathing. Tinka was as good as gold. In fact it turns out he likes bathing and grooming as long as you take your time and reassure him.
He plays endlessly and is sometimes discovered running around in the bath, on top of cupboards and more. Small and nimble he gets in many places.Training is an ongoing mission.
Taking in a rescue dog that bites was not our idea. However, I would not be without him now. He is comical, inquisitive, fun, hard work, affectionate and most importantly Jessie adores him. If he was a larger dog, or one that had savaged, that would be a different matter.
He came to us with battle scars, literally. Large wounds down both sides where he had been savaged. Wouldn't you be prone to lash out if that was you?
Please consider re-homing a rescued animal. Post-Christmas many animal shelters are full to the rafters.
Note: The video was taken January 2013, as snow hit Yorkshire.