Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Introducing Rolf.

I thought I'd gradually give a bit of background about each of my hairy friends, as they keep appearing in my day to day ramblings.
First up is Rolf.
Rolf came to me from a rescue centre when he was around 9-10 months old. I was his sixth owner. He had been passed from home to home and was extremely nervous, destructive and had been very badly beaten. If you looked at him the wrong way he cowered down and urinated, and a sudden movement or stern tone of voice sent him running away in a blind panic. He demolished two dog flaps in his desperation to escape when an unexpected male visitor came to the house. He settled slowly, gaining confidence from my old Retriever Leo. A week after he arrived I came home to find that he had pulled down the curtains and curtain rails, hauled the full sized freezer to the middle of the kitchen, chewed through the flex, pulled the door off the fridge and eaten all the contents, (poor old Leo was covered in the contents of a 3 litre box of red wine), and ripped up the carpet. Now you may think that he was scared or panicked at being left but unknown to them and prior to discovering the extent of the damage, I watched through the window until they both gaily set to ripping open my leather chesterfield and throwing the cushions around with wild abandon. My arrival through the front door prompted demolition of dog flap number three as Rolf anticipated violence and ran away. Fourteen year old Leo (who previously didn't know how to misbehave) blamed Rolf for the whole thing and went to bed with a hangover, wearing a fetching red wine stained head. It was a while before his lovely cream fur went back to normal. And having eaten several pounds of lard and margarine the same applied to his digestive system.
Meanwhile, although I would absolutely never condone his treatment, I got a brief understanding of why Rolf had been so badly beaten in the past. Knowing he was safely confined in the garden I ignored him and went round to my friends to calm down.
On my return he was very scared but of his own accord he crawled up to me on his belly and I treated him as normal. He sat leaning into me and I stroked him and we laid the foundations of something special.
He never carried out such whole-scale destruction again. He had a penchant for chewing through live cables for a while but he lived to tell the tale and I learned not to leave them exposed and available. His fear and nervousness made him really challenging to live with and to train, as tone was everything to this dog and he couldn't cope with the slightest sternness.
Patience prevailed. He's coming up six years old now and is a joy. Happy, obedient, confident and loyal, he's everything a dog can be. Another animal that taught me a lot about myself, I'm so glad he came to me. I've learned how to deal with fearful dogs and how effective kind and gentle handling can be.
He is the most gentle natured dog I've ever known, tolerating even the intolerable attentions of Chico, another rescued dog who has a whole different set of idiosyncrasies. But more of that another time...
Intelligent and gorgeous as well.
Lucky me.


  1. Aww this is a lovely tale, and what a lucky dog to land so well on his paws. He really is beauty and it's great his life turned out so much better than it could have. Well done you!!

  2. It takes patience, and some would say, a whole lot of more patience!

    I have four dogs now, Hagar passed last year. You done good.

  3. Our German Shepherd is a rescue too. And at 13 is still scared of flexes, but has conquered her fear of plastic bags! She can't bear people shouting and so we've learned we don't need to. Dogs can teach us so much. She's a registered therapet and used to come into the cancer centre when I worked there and she bought such joy to the patients. People often tell us how well behaved she is, but I don't think they realise the hours and hours of training we had to do. I think Nell and Rolf have a lot in common. Lucky they came to us? yes... but we're so lucky to have them.

  4. Thanks Sinead and Cheyenne. And yes Vee I agree whole heartedly.