Authored on: 26 September 2023
Back in June, we took in five terrified cockapoos. Titch, Winter, Millie, Cookie and Tessa were aged between 2 and 7 years old and had spent their lives sheltered from the outside world. Where do you begin rehabilitating a dog who has never worn a collar or been taken for a walk? We knew there would be a long road ahead, but we were determined to help our fantastic five eventually find loving new homes, and our Animal Care Assistants (ACA's) were ready for the challenge.
The first stage in their rehabilitation was to get them used to us being around. They needed to learn that they didn’t need to fear us, so we used an irresistible treat... tasty chicken! Sitting on the floor in the corridor behind the kennel block, our dedicated Animal Care Assistants spent day after day quietly waiting while each dog got braver and came out for a tasty snack.
It wasn't long before we learned that Winter was the bravest... she was the first to take a little piece of chicken out of an ACA’s hand! Tessa was next to find her feet – drawing from Winter’s confidence (or jealous of missing out on chicken) her bravery grew.
Soon, Titch was coming forward for chicken, but Millie and Cookie were still holding back, unsure if we were safe to approach, despite us tempting them with The Best Treat Ever.
As the weeks passed, even Millie and Cookie had found the beginnings of confidence, and all five were now happily running up and down the corridor and spending time in the chill-out room with ACA’s. We've witnessed the first tail wags, the first fusses on the sofa, the first completely relaxed naps, and we watched with tears in our eyes as they started to play with toys for the first time in their lives!
We had already managed to groom Titch, Winter and Tessa, but Millie and Cookie were still too scared, so we wanted to wait until they were more comfortable around us. Finally, two days ago, we were able to groom Millie and Cookie. We took it at their pace, giving them lots of treats and reassurance and managed to clip most of their bodies before they had had enough. They are now feeling much happier and more comfortable! (before and after photos below)
There’s still a way to go – they've never lived inside a home before and they’ve never been walked on leads, but we’ve made so much progress so far that we are confident that, with a little more time and patience, they will be living their best lives in their forever homes very soon.