On the Monday it will be a whole year since we took our Duke home. If you haven’t met Duke; he is a Rhodesian ridgeback cross Mastiff. And is a big, and somewhat excitable, baby. Duke is also our pride and joy. He has brought us lots of challenges, frustration and a few tears. But he has also brought us a lot more laughter, smiles and happiness.
When we took him home our world changed dramatically! He was at times chaotic and at others soft and sweet. I fell in love the moment I clasped eyes on him. Something about his lost little expressions and sweet little face made me fall deeply in love. I knew he was the dog for us. But others didn’t, I was often told (and still am) that he is scary looking and frightening. This is something I’ll never really understand because he’s the sweetest boy. However, he is very nervous, and that nervousness is often mastered by boisterous bouncy behaviour. A common mistake people often make with excitable dogs.
When we took Duke home we found that unfortunately Duke had minimal life experience so we have been building up his understanding of the world and introducing him to lots of new things. But also teaching him how to respond to new stimulus. Duke was a nightmare on the lead, extremely over excited or frightened of everything and mouthed something rotten. At times both Karl and I looked at his crazy behaviour and worried if we would ever be able to crack it. But a year on we have minimal mouthing, he walks pretty well on a lead (90% of the time) and he’s much, much calmer and secure.
6 months ago we started training classes and rally. This really changed everything for us. Duke, Karl and I have not only learnt new things we have also met wonderful people and have a wonderful support network around us. He’s doing amazing in class and at home; Dukes stopped barking when we come in and out of the house; were as he use to rush us with a chorus of loud barking every time we came in. He has learnt an emergency stop, to calm down when he is over excited, some lovely table manners (i.e not begging but laying down and waiting for his own dinner) and to follow lots of different commands even when there is a lot going on. We have had a few speed bumps on the way; the time he chased a cyclist, the time a kid where we live let him out, his new fear of strangers and his edginess on night time walks. He has a very clear and extremely lovable personality; he’s sweet, loving, goofy, stubborn and at times pretty lazy.
Dukes had a pretty awesome year:
He’s met lots of friends: human and K9
Anyone who gets to know duke tend to come away loving him!
He’s concurred his fear of puddles.
He has made him self at home.
He’s had a lot of cuddles and given a lot to.
He has made us laugh.
He’s destroyed countless beds…. And a few other things including, one pair of glasses 10 cushions, lots of balls, countless cuddly toys, a pair of wellies, a pair of trainers, one shoe rack, 2 Christmas decorations, two pairs of slippers and a radiator cap!
He’s learnt to jump and lots of other tricks
Duke has come leaps and bounds in obedience class and in the Rally sessions. He has learnt to be much calmer around other dogs and can now focus on the task at hand rather than on what the other dogs are doing. He loves the dogs that attend the classes his ears twitch and move whenever we say their names. He surprises us all the time in class with how well he does, often it’s me who makes the mistakes and not him. He still hasn’t mastered sitting still but one thing at a time I suppose!
He experienced snow.
Done a lot of sleeping
And been to some pretty wonderful places.
He hasn’t enjoyed bath time or visiting the vets.
But he has had his first Christmas with us and was utterly spoilt.
He’s very different from the nervous wreck we took home a year ago. I can’t wait to see how much he changes other the next year; because there is still lots for him to learn.
Duke has been more than just a dog. He has become a part of our family so quickly. He makes me feel less stressed when things aren’t going quite right, he’s been a companion when Karl was away with work, he’s been motivation to get out of house and enjoy the day. We love him. very much… and I think it’s safe to say he loves us!