Nellie was rehomed in January 2011
She was an old girl............found wandering around the streets of Uddingston, near Glasgow.
I wanted to help a dog that really needed me. I saw Nellie, no history on her, she looked a sad soul, I adopted her. One of her eyes is blind, the other one has some vision. Nellie was about 12 years old.
I already had Warner, a handsome, well socialised Labrador male of 10 years old. Warner was very interested in Nellie, doing that mounting thing once too often until Nellie told him off! She showed her teeth, and barked at him. He backed off and after that they were the best of friends. In fact, I would say that Nellie belonged to Warner.
On walks she followed him about. If he dropped his squeaky ball, she picked it up and wouldn’t give it back! ( now she will give things up without a wrestle, as she knows it will come back to her )
At home if I called him, she followed. If I suggested he lay down, again, she watched him do this and then lay down too.
I was worried about how Nellie would cope when Warner had to be put to sleep, in March 2014.
After chatting with Lisa Tenzin-Dolma, I added Bach Flower Remedies to her water, and I continued with a good routine at home.
At first Nellie didn’t respond to Mhairi, our Dog walker. Up until now she had always let Warner hear the door open, and follow him as he rushed to the door. But once there was no Warner to tell her what this sound meant ( the back door opening ) Nellie just stayed on the settee until Mhairi managed to entice her off and out for a walk.
After a couple of weeks however, she had learned what the sound of the back door opening meant and started greeting Mhairi at the door!
When Nellie first arrived, I tried bonding with her – we kept toys in the house, I played with her – she was mad! Very panty and stressed……….quick movements………….she ran over the furniture in the house, knocking things down. She moved around so quickly – doing everything at 90 mph! She barked at me all the time, wanting me to play. She never settled.
I had to put her on a lead, by my chair, and ignore her, and eventually she lay down and went to sleep. Over time, I could sit down and she would settle down next to me, no lead needed.
I had to take all the toys away – a shame, but they stimulated her to play ALL the time! And she didn’t want to play on her own, she wanted ME to play with her all the time – I couldn’t do this ALL the time.
She toileted in the house, in front of me and I decided to let her sleep in the kitchen at night time, as I also had many visiting dogs – I wanted them all to “have their space”.
She didn’t like being in the kitchen initially, but I ignored her barks for a couple of nights, and she settled down. She now looks forward to going to bed in the kitchen…………..she likes her bedtime chew!
As far as Nellie was concerned, hands were for feeding her. Any approaching hand was jumped at and nibbled ( very gently ) to check out if it was food. I tried touching her to praise her, but she didn’t understand this – hands weren’t for that reason………..
When Nellie was lying asleep by my chair, I have a habit of putting my hand down to praise any dog ( when it is doing the acceptable thing ) but as soon as she felt me she ran away in a panic……….I think she thought something had fallen on her! Now she is okay with this. Over time, she has learned that hands are not going to hurt her, and they do more nice things, than give food. I can scratch her ears now, and generally give her tickles, which she now seems to enjoy!
She walks in front of me when I move about the house – I have to walk very slowly to try and chill her, but this has been a difficult behaviour to change. She is more frantic when there is a second dog in the house due to the competition I think – as every movement of the human means food to her. Who knows what she has had to endure in her life regarding getting food?
We have had to learn about each other, now Warner isn’t here, but we are getting there!
Nellie now walks very close to me on walks, bless her.
Sometimes I can walk a short distance in the house without her getting in front of me.
When I settle, she settles.
She is apparently relaxed when left during the day – she has the run of the house during the day.
All in all, we have come a long way with regards to settling Nellie in to her new home.
I have a theory, based on her behaviour generally when I first adopted her:
I wonder if she lived in a yard and was visited a few times a day by the human. I believe this human played with her whenever he/she was there – she loves a squeaky ball, or just carrying a stone about, bless her – and I believe the only way she got her food was from the humans hand. I don’t think she has ever lived in a house.
I think that is why she took so long to settle and wanted or expected me to play with her all the time – because I was there!
She used to snatch her chews, but she has learned to hesitate and she gets it quicker.
One thing I found sad recently though was when we were walking in a familiar area where I walked with Nell and Warner together, when Nell saw a yellow lab in the distance. She ran and ran to get to it – I believe she thought it was Warner, as she never interacts with other dogs on the walks now. The dog carried on with its owner, and Nellie looked confused. Eventually she saw me waving my arms about to attract her attention ( not sure about her hearing and know that one eye isn’t too good! )
I have learned a lot, and am still learning.
Its good to rehome an old dog. Try it if you can.
( Nellie was pts a week before Xmas 2014 due to her legs giving up on her...she died eating...her favourite pastime...)