A muddy spaniel is a happy spaniel.

This week has been one of firsts for Chewy as we marked our fourth week with him since he arrived from CAESSR. As with any rescue dog there will be a period of learning both for your woofer and for you. Fortunately you can get a bit of a head start from the rescue centre or charity and with Chewy we knew what we were letting ourselves in for. Its worth mentioning that the things we most often hear about rescue dogs is that they are considerably hard work, or that potential owners don’t know how the dog is with other animals or children.

Any reputable organisation will be able to give you as much background as they can; such as if the dog is good with cats or cannot be left alone with children. With Chewy we knew that he would be fine with other dogs, responded well to a whistle but would need house training. We’ve personally adopted from both CAESSR and Many Tears, and with both organisations we were informed exactly as to what we were getting into. Its also worth bearing in mind that rescue organisations also have dogs needing home where the owner has died or moved abroad. Aside from settling in the new arrival, these fluffs will be house trained and needing comparatively little other than a bit of patience and oodles of love. Having had a couple of dogs from pups and now our fifth adoption I think its fair to say that all of our adoptions – some with medical issues and others needing recall and lead training – have actually been less work than trying to train and raise a puppy!

When Chewy arrived, one of the things which was both endearing and also heartbreaking was how he was with stairs. He was absolutely terrified and didn’t understand them at all. The first night he slept down stairs in his crate (we’ll talk more about crating in a later blog post, and how – provided the dog’s background doesn’t preclude this – it can help with house training) and he really struggled with separation anxiety. We solved this by moving Chewy’s bedroom into ours.  Not a peep aside from the occasional snore until morning, and it meant that him and us slept through. Our existing doggo Biz always sleeps on the bed with us, and this also meant that he knew where his big sister was and she still had “her” mum and dad and bed to herself.

Moving the crate/bed upstairs however, has necessitated us carrying Chewy up every night up until yesterday. Using a mixture of bribery – which up until now hadn’t worked as little Flump – as we’ve nick named him – was still terrified of these weird things going up to a whole new world – and encouragement he reached the pinnacle of the fourth stair following mummy. Then the fifth. At this point mummy put his front paws on the sixth step and suddenly he was all the way up. Having this new found confidence Chewy has since decided in his gorgeous spaniel way that STAIRS ARE THE BEST THINGS EVER! From being confused and terrified of them he is now happily bouncing up and down them in a thunder of paws and uncoordinated flurries, and nowhere in the house is safe from the spaniel!

His increase in confidence as well as his growing fitness has also been reflected in his behaviour out on adventures. He is now belting round kicking up mud and plunging headfirst into bracken, mud and foliage. His recall is mostly excellent – until he gets distracted by playing with (usually) another spaniel. Today he met his first embankment and after a bit of nervous pacing plunged down in sending mud flying in all directions like some brown spaniel shaped rally car. At the bottom he had a bit of a moment. Stairs are one thing – going back up a step embankment is another. After a moment’s consideration having clocked that mum and dad were up there whilst he was down here he shot off back down the path. A minute or two later he emerged having traced the path back to where it more gently separated into the upper and lower routes, tail wagging and happy to be back with his dog parents.

He is still no closer however to understanding water – aside from preferring muddy puddles and ponds for drinking from over clean water. Maybe next weekend he’ll take the plunge but this time it meant all four us – humans and doggos – were plastered in mud and pleasantly tired by the time we got back to the car.

Its been so rewarding to watch him come on in leaps and bounds. Choosing a rescue dog rather than a puppy is so incredibly rewarding especially if you do your research and choose one whose needs match what you can provide.

Mark and Cat, 2nd February 2020

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