Teaching a dog to expect better

Floyd is a ½ labrador ¼ retriever ¼ greyhound furbaby and professional bum wriggler.

So as a lot of you know, Floyd – the apple of my eye, the love of my life and my reason for getting up in the morning – is a rescue dog. He was rehabilitated by a friend of mine (who has asked to remain anonymous because she’s curently over run with difficult dogs) and myself.
What most people don’t know are the sorry details of his life before he came to me. My baby boy – now 3 and happy, had a horrific start in life.
Owner 1 – bad breeder.
He was bred by a backyard breeder who had no interest in his long term well-being. Sold at 5 weeks to an inexperienced owner.
Owner 2 – didn’t know what to do with him.
Because he was too young, Floyd quickly became very sick. They coudn’t afford veterinary treatment and he was quickly passed off to someone else.
Owner 3 – doting and loving.
Having recovered from his initial malnutrition with a lot of TLC but not the separation anxiety, little Floyd would cry constantly for his mother. As Floyd grew, his owners became ill and could no longer cope with the exercise a young dog needs. This, coupled with the sleep deprivation lead to him being rehomed again. Must stress, these people loved him and thought that they were rehoming him with someone who would be able to give him what he needed. This is one reason to approach a rehoming centre or to only rehome with people you know.
Owner 4 – total barbarian.
The 4th person to own Floyd has actually done time for their mistreatment of the poor babe. Because of his constant crying he was kept in a car for most of the time and was beaten whenever he peed or pooed on the upholstery. X-rays have shown that his skull was broken several times as his head was growing, causing permanent deformations and brain damage. It is also believed – because of the missing skin around his ears and throat – that he was also tethered during this time.
Owner 5 – my anonymous friend.
This woman is a total god send. Without her Floyd would probably have been put to sleep because of his issues. He was afraid of everyone and everything, but she started him off on the right track. She totally tricked me though – I was after an elderly female terrier, but she let me fall in love with this guy. I met him while visiting her in home rehab centre. She had twenty three dogs in recovery at the time, mostly rescued from puppy farms and all so heartbreakingly tragic that I wanted them all. There was Tilly – a sad little breeding terrier who could barely stand and had to wear a baby grow to stop her nipples grazing on the ground. There was Bell – another breeding bitch who was incontinent and had to wear a nappy indoors,though she was outside most of the time learning to play. And there was Floyd.

I remember him pissing all over the floor when I made eye contact with him, so I sat on the floor next to him without looking at him. The next time I visited I sat next him again, not looking at him, with chicken treats in my hand. He came and sniffed at them. I let him have them without pushing it any further. The third time I met Floyd he came and sat with me. We cuddled. I fell in love.

Because of my background in animal care and my understanding of animal rehabilitation she decided that she would make me need Floyd as much as he needed someone like me.

It began like this:
“I know you want female, but would male be ok?”
Then a week later we had, “I know you want a doddery old thing, but would you consider someone a little younger? Not a puppy, but younger than 8?”
Which finally progressed, a fortnight after meeting Floydy, to “I know you want a terrier, but you said your mum used to have a lab, would you consider a lab?”
My answer to that last one was, “Do you mean lovely Floyd?”
Then the bastard said those wicked words which sealed both our fates: “he tried to follow you home yesterday.”

It makes me so sad to remember that frightened little boy who first came to live with me, but it only took a couple of days with my family for him to be comfortable with us, and now he’s fine with most people.

There were moments, in the early days, when I thought I’d made a horrible mistake – that it was too much. I was afraid that my hubris – I can do this, I can do anything – was about to make both him and me miserable for the rest of our lives. But I love him and it was worth it. The sleepless nights, the heartbreak of the diagnosis when he had his head examined, the exhaustion when he needs an extra long walk far too early in the morning after a long night of seizures that keep me up but make him so anxious that all he can think about is the running. Sometimes I think my heart will burst because I love him so much. Floyd – the apple of my eye, the love of my life and my reason for getting up in the morning.

Find Floys book here

1 Comment

  1. Beautiful x I’m so glad Floyd got the chance he so deserved. This made my eyes leak and my heart swell. Reminded me of my old girl Honey, lab x, found by my mum running in and out of a busy road in the rain, around bonfire night. She was just a pup, soaked, shaking and terrified of the fireworks. No one claimed her so we kept her, only to find she had parvo. Luckily she survived and lived to almost 17 x


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