We have never had a rescue dog before, we have always bought dogs directly from breeders – with the possible exception of Major. As soon as we found Rico at Liverpool Dog’s Trust we knew he was special. None of the staff could really handle him except for a lovely little Irish girl who was about six stone soaking wet. You could tell that he loved her to death and would pine for her on the days she wasn’t working. He is also a very naughty dog and as soon as his little Irish girl wasn’t around he would decide to bite other dogs when he was out exercising. Not because he was nasty or vicious but because he thought it was fun and well… it kind of passed the time.
We of course fell in love with him and all his little problems foibles.
Before we could bring Rico home we had to spend a week going to visit him every day and getting to know him. We would arrive, take him for a walk, hand him back to one of the Dog’s Trust staff who would return him to his kennel. Rico started to grow fond of us and hated us leaving but that was the rules. One day after taking him for his walk there was no one there to put him back into his kennel, which is like a large cage/enclosure where he lived. The door wasn’t locked so I went inside and started taking his harness off when I heard a commotion from outside his kennel. One of the volunteers came running over from out of nowhere shouting at me that I shouldn’t be in his kennel and screaming about health & safety.
Rico thought he was under attack and launched a counter-attack at this enraged eighteen year old. He had been trying to tell me that I didn’t know the dog well enough to be enclosed within his kennel alone with him. I could have told him that after thirty years of owning German Shepherds I know the ones I can trust and the ones I need to be aware of and I also knew enough not to go screaming and shouting around a dog capable of inflicting “counter-attacks”.
On the day we were to bring Rico home we met his animal psychologist who explained that he was a little disturbed. During the months he had lived on his own in his former owners flat he had developed some rather strange afflictions. Obviously being alone all day he had to come up with little games to play on his own to entertain himself. One was chasing his tail, which he still does to this day when he gets excited, but his favourite was chasing shadows. We could be sitting silently reading the paper in peace in the morning when the wind would decide to blow something casting a shadow through the window. Suddenly all hell would break loose as Rico would launch an attack on the dangerous shadow.
I had a masterplan, though. I bought him a red laser-light and weened him off the shadows and onto the laser’s little red light. Eventually he learned that the red light was much more fun than shadows and so he doesn’t really bother with clouds these days and peace is restored to breakfast times.
His only real draw-back is that he has stolen my Laz-e-Boy recliner and refuses to give it back. He isn’t rude about it, he just expects me – or anyone else – to find somewhere else to sit while he makes himself comfortable.
Who am I to argue?