Saturday, 27 February 2010

Our two week house guest ...

We'd been talking about having a dog since we moved to our current home about 3 years ago. Being a family of animal lovers already owning a selection of furry and feathered creatures, we knew that a dog would be absolutely fabulous. Since starting at the stables with Katie last year, we have got to know and love three dogs, a Great Dane, Labrador and long haired Alsatian so we were certainly used to having larger dogs around us.
We started by looking for an older dog as the sanctuary websites often stated they were more comfortable with children and cats. Unfortunately, we found kennel owners or foster carers wouldn't return our calls, so this path seemed to come to a halt.
As it happened the lady who owns the stables mentioned that her neighbour's daughter was eager to re-home her 15 month old chocolate Labrador x Doberman. She was out at work all day, often working late hours, and was having problems with a boisterous dog! We weren't too sure to start with, we'd come across young boisterous Labs before! However, being a great believer in fate we decided to go and see Buster, and then have him on a week or two trial.
Having never looked after a dog before, we found it a little daunting to start with, but we began to settle into a routine. As the days went by we decided to limit Buster to two rooms (kitchen and study) to keep him out of harm's way (and away from the stairs to the bedrooms which he loved to explore!). However, we still felt we needed to keep most of the other doors closed, just in case, as he was able to open the kitchen door out into the garden and we knew it would be a matter of time before he could open the study door as it has a simple latch! Photobucket
Buster was absolutely fabulous in so many ways! He'd been so well trained in all the basic commands and could do brilliant little tricks like waiting for the "get it" command when placing food on his paw when lying down! He'd thoroughly enjoy his three walks each day, as we did too.
His midday hour long walk with lots of ball and stick play in the park must have been his favourite - he'd zonk out after it and we would be pretty exhausted as well! Getting us all out into the fresh air has been wonderful - real family time.
Last weekend we went along to Sandringham Park where Buster had a great run around in the snow. Paul found a brilliant log for the fire but it proved a challenge keeping it from Buster! We'd also walked along the marshes, where he found Hector, a black Labrador to play with and he also discovered the many muddy ditches - so he's had a couple of baths too during his stay! Yesterday we took him to Breckland Forest for a walk along one of the by-ways. We worked out we'd walked for about 3 miles, needless to say he slept most of the way home!

He's provided us with lots of laughs: one evening when out in the garden closing up the chickens and rabbit, Buster discovered the plastic watering can and made such a noice with it flinging it in the air and trying hard to pull it apart that all the neighbouring dogs started barking in protest! Playing hunt the treat was also good fun, and our end of evening calming cuddles were just adorable. He'd sleep well too, 8 ish bedtime until 7.30 next morning - not bad.
We'd also had some annoying times though - although in the end we'd actually laughed about them: Last Sunday I cooked a roast beef joint only to discover Buster has swiped the left overs (half the joint) for himself! I cooked a cake yesterday and thought I'd put it high enough out of his reach only to find a trail of crumbs half an hour later.

Sadly, there was also a side to him that made us a little worried. Yes, we were upset that our cats weren't so close to us. We missed them coming around and being with us, sitting on our laps during school time and being close in the evenings when watching TV. Buster's barks and sudden lurches towards them were scary. Allie, being quite a bit older than the other two was slower to get away and he experienced a couple of very close shaves. We'd been told that cats and dogs do eventually settle together, so we were prepared to battle on with this, but then we also found Buster could become feisty towards us very quickly and often without warning. He'd knocked Paul over during a play session and would sometimes go for Ben, I guess being a smaller and lighter frame. He'd suddenly jump up and grab your arm and the final deciding factor for us was when he actually tried to drag Ben along, first by the arm, then by his gloved hand (so luckily the glove came off). Trying to stop this all happening seem to result in more excitability and rougher play.

Sadly to say we had to make the decision to send him back. We are feeling quite miserable about it as generally he'd been such a brilliant dog to have around us, so loving and loyal and fun. But to put it bluntly, we didn't want to end up fearing him and we certainly didn't want any really nasty injuries happening to any of us or to others.
Buster will always be in our memories - those special moments and wonderful times we'd spent with him.

The book, "It's me or the Dog, Victoria Stilwell" has been a really helpful read.


Caroline (Frogmum) said...

My kids would love a dog. We thought about trying to track down a 'trial run' dog, but at the end of the day I don't think I really want the hassle. Buster looks like a beautiful dog ~ shame he just couldn't quite be trusted :(

odd.sox said...

He does look adorable but a little bit of doubt is never worth the risk. Love E's owl drawing too!

I have you on my choice of favourite blogs for a Sunshine Blog Award :)

Ellie's Treasures said...

Thank you Oddsox and many thanks for the award.