Our Winston from Apasa
We rescued our first dog Tatty from Apasa when I was 9 years old. Seven years later, she was starting to slow down, so we decided it was time to adopt a younger dog as we had heard that the company of a younger pup can prolong the life of an older dog. Off we went to Apasa and there was where we found Winston.
He was about a year old and absolutely massive. He was ALL legs with a very deep bark that caught our attention immediately. We walked him a couple of times before we decided to take him home, unaware of the chaos that was about to ensue upon his entry into our front gate.
Suddenly Winston transformed into an overexcited giraffe galloping around our garden. In the pool, out the pool, in the pool out the pool. Our terrace became a hazardous slip ‘n’ slide water park as Winston cascaded around the naya bashing into the glass curtains and ripping up the plant pots. We looked at eachother, looked at Winston, looked at Tatty who looked back at us, all with the same expression – ‘what on earth have we done?!’. It was time to get to work.
After about a year of ripped up plants and destroyed bin bags, I began to take matters into my own hands and do what I have always loved to do – train doggies. We started with the basics (sit, lay down, paw) and then it was time to step it up a notch.
Given Winstons absolute devotion to food of all kinds, learning new tricks came naturally. This dog developed a deep and unbelievable understanding to the English language. Within a day he had learned ‘spin’, ‘beg’, ‘play dead’ and ‘rollover’.
We immediately saw his behaviour change as he was exhausted from learning. It turned into a fun game for him as he tried to guess what I wanted him to do in return for a delicious treat. No more time to rip up the plants, only time to sleep and learn, play and sleep.
Through everything he had learnt, it moulded him in to the most balanced and attentive dog I have ever come across.
We took him to an obedience competition where he showed off a handful of his tricks – ‘rollover’, ‘under’ (go under my legs), ‘speak’, ‘whisper’ and ‘both’ (both paws in the air. His tail was going round and round in circles as he showed off how clever he is now.
He won the competition and couldn’t wait to go home and show off his rosette that was pinned to his collar. He ran into the kitchen to show my Dad and then posed for a photo.
He was found searching for scraps on a dried river bed before he was taken into Apasa all those years ago. Now he finds himself surrounded by love, in a warm home with a cosy bed and and endless supply of treats. He will never have to worry about where his next dinner is coming from. That is the purest joy of adopting a dog. You start with a rough-around-the-edges pooch who has had a terrible start to life, and you are rewarded by a loyal and devoted companion that will never let you down. All you need to give is patience, time and a lot of love.
Winston is my evidence that rescue dogs make the best of companions.
When learning is a fun and exciting game for the dog, they look forward to training and build up a collection of words that they understand. You then open a new world for them where your daily chit chat (that sounds like jibberish to them), turns into something they can pick up on and understand. You bring them out of isolation and into your world.
Below is a video of Winston’s tricks to date. Join me as I help rescue dog owners shape their new companions into the dog they aspire to be, and slowly quash naughty and unwanted behaviours, reducing the chance of the dog being returned to the shelters.