Last year I wrote an article about Merlin, the troubled young Golden Retriever whom I brought home to rehabilitate. After six months with me and my pack, and a lot of patience, he relaxed from a bundle of frenetic nerves into an obedient, balanced, lively and happy dog. Although my dogs got on well with him, they found him exhausting as he wound them up to do mischief and was always determined to lead in every way. I felt he needed to live in a home where he was the only dog, so he could play with others but come home to peace and quiet, and where he could have more attention than I could give him.
I found the decision and the process really harrowing but after meeting with and talking to at least 30 people I finally met Kerry. She and her husband have a young family, three cats and had recently lost their beloved Golden Retriever Nibs. Merlin reminded them of him and they were keen and determined to do all they could to make him happy and continue with the work I had started with him. I took him to teir home to visit Kerry and to have a walk a week before he went there permanently and they all came to meet him at my home several times.
I had my heart in my mouth on the morning he left here permanently. What if he reverted to his previous fearful behaviour and destroyed their house? Having shown him how to be content was I the only person who could control him? Would he be happy in someone else’s home or was I condemning him to a miserable life? Poor Kerry was inundated with so much information and guidance it must have taken her a week to just read it but she absorbed it eagerly and when Merlin leapt out of the car at her home he greeted her like an old friend. He dashed into the house and sniffed around in all the corners until he found his crate, complete with his smelly mat. We gave him a good bone to chew and I slipped away. Apparently he kept an ear out for me for a few hours, listening to every sound at the door, but Kerry knew what to do and he soon relaxed, particularly after a good walk in the fileds.
I need not have worried as apparently he settled down completely within only three or four days. I am so proud of him. Kerry wrote me a lovely message a couple of weeks ago and I’d like to share a few comments from what she said.
‘Oh what can I say? He is absolutely magic. We all love him dearly! He is such a character and I adore having him here …
He loves his walk and is very obedient, still has plenty of time on the lead – but is generally off the lead. He is funny though as he just jumps in all the puddles etc (lay down in one so was covered in black silt!)
I will confess though …. He doesn’t get shut in his crate at all now. ‘
Wow! This was the dog who destroyed two sitting room suites and had started on the window frames in his first home, who couldn’t be left alone for more than 10 seconds without howling and who insisted on sleeping on his owner’s bed. A dog who ran terrified from me at the first opportunity and who couldn’t accept my touch for 10 days when he first arrived. The fact that he no longer needs his crate is the best indication I can be given that he’s completely settled and content.
It goes to show that dogs live in the present and that, given security, rules and love with guidance in how to relax, their true characters and behaviour will emerge. Have a great life Merlin!