Spanish Water Dog Rescue

Success Story

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Bodi

Bodi had some serious issues in his previous home and had bitten several times. He was traumatised during his first clip and bit the groomer who refused to complete the job or, indeed, clip him again. As a result of this he came into Rescue with a coat that was very matted, particularly around his neck. Consequently whenever anyone tried to grab his collar it really hurt him so he bit them! Bodi has a very low pain threshold and a real fear of being held, clipped or having anything done to him by a vet. He bit purely through fear but, unfortunately he had never learned bite inhibition so when he bit he bit badly and caused fairly severe damage.
To spare him the discomfort and trauma (and us the mangled fingers!!) of clipping we did it under sedation. This is the result:

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Update - Adopting Bodi

I have lived for many years with Multiple Sclerosis which unfortunately never seems to "get any better". I am mostly retired now due to the condition and have been spending much more time at home on my own while my partner is out at work. Together we both decided that the time was right to add a dog to our household. I was open minded about the breed of dog though I was clear in my mind that I wanted to adopt a dog from a rescue centre rather than get a puppy from a breeder.

My partner is Spanish and had some knowledge of a working Spanish Water Dog (SWD) from his childhood on their farm. I had never met a Spanish Water Dog before and mistakenly believed that they were much larger than they actually are. Having found the website for the SWD rescue centre, we took the advice of simply going to have a chat and meet some SWDs. We live just outside Hereford and on Monday 6th May we went by prearrangement to meet Di Williamson and her SWDs in Goodrich near Ross on Wye. I was delighted to discover how "compact" these woolly dogs are and though we hadn't gone to meet any specific dog, Di told us that just the previous evening a couple who had been to due to adopt a 2 year old dog called Bodi, had decided that they did indeed want a puppy rather than a fully grown dog.

So, we were introduced to Bodi, jet black with a white stripe down his front and two white hind paws, he looks exactly like a SWD but is in fact 3/4 SWD and 1/4 poodle. Love at first sight is definitely possible with a dog and this seemed to be the case for Bodi and me. Di did not know that I was really hoping to find a suitable mixed breed dog and that I secretly hoped for something crossed with a poodle as I know them to be both intelligent and adding a good chance of a non-shedding coat. So here was Bodi who seemed to fit the bill precisely. We were given all the information about Bodi's past and it was explained that if we decided to go ahead and adopt him, we would have to work quite hard to overcome some of the issues that the dog presents as a result of his past experiences.

PicWe were encouraged to go away and to take our time to think about the consequences of adopting a dog with some issues. The story was not all negative though. Since Bodi had come into rescue, Di and her colleagues had worked with him and found him to be extremely sociable both with people and other dogs and also highly intelligent and trainable. He does have a low pain threshold and is afraid of sudden movements and of anything that he perceives might hurt him. We did a lot of thinking and talking and about a week later Di brought Bodi to us, to do a home visit and make sure that our property would be suitable. Bodi seemed to like our house and garden and Di gave us the seal of approval to go ahead if we wanted to but again we were not pressured into making any instant decisions.

After another weekend of deliberation (our only real issue was that we had found "the dog for us" so quickly and that we had hardly looked around at all) I remembered seeing the first house I ever bought on my first ever viewing and then spending two further months viewing 24 other properties before coming back to the very first one. I was happy not to look any further, I was already in love with Bodi anyway and Francisco agreed that if I was happy, he was too. We told Di that we wanted to go ahead and adopt Bodi however we delayed the adoption date by two weeks and I went a few times to work with Bodi and Di and we got him used to walking "close" to my mobility scooter and I was shown how to "handle" him carefully so that he didn't expect to "get away" but also began to learn that he was not going to be hurt.

On 24th May 2014 he came to live in his new home. All things considered he settled very quickly and rather well. We had two somewhat noisy nights at the very beginning but he settled into a good sleep pattern and he was already toilet trained and clean in the house and he has never tried to destroy anything that is not his. This doesn't quite work for tennis balls though, he will pull all the fur off them and try to puncture them as quickly as you can say "game, set and match"! He loves his other rubber and rope toys and now knows some of them by name and will go and look for them when asked. Though he hadn't shown any guarding instincts when he was in rescue, he quickly established our house and garden as his new territory and he does now guard the property and regularly does little perimeter patrols to make sure that everything is ok. He has found a new "lookout post" if he sits on the end of the bed in the spare room, he can survey the front of the house and see what is going on in the village. He definitely gets a little excited when the doorbell rings but the moment anyone is invited inside our house, he realises that they are not a threat and calms down almost instantly.

He is wonderfully playful and will invite anyone to play with him and one of his toys, however, he is also well behaved and if you say no or ignore him, he will not pester you but simply lies down and chills out. This is probably the most wonderful thing about his nature, he certainly loves games and playing but he is also happy just chilling out on the carpet in front of the telly of an evening. He has been with us for nearly three months now and my life is considerably changed. I have the most wonderful, loyal and loving company during the day. He quietly keeps me company when I am working in my study and he will respond really positively to any mental stimulation and training I do with him. He is very happy to see Francisco when he comes home from work at the end of the day and he has now met many new people who have come to our house (sometimes even in groups) and he has also met many of the dogs in the village. He never shows any signs of aggression to any of our visitors and he is also calmly accepting of other dogs when we are out for walks. He regularly walks with me and my scooter (we walk about 2 miles each day along the cycle path) and more recently he has been taken in to town on the lead and behaves impeccably when in crowds. He sits calmly under the table when we stop to have a coffee and is very happy to meet strangers as long as they approach him within his sight line and don't surprise him from behind. He is very fond of fetch and retrieve games in the garden and these give him an additional source of exercise, particularly if I have been too tired to get the scooter out of the car and go for a long walk.

I have learned from Di and used the clicker training method to work with Bodi. He loves the training sessions and he will now fetch my shoes for me from the entrance hall or by the back door in the kitchen and he will also go to his basket or a mat and stay there if we ask him too. He has become much less noisy when travelling in the car and as we can now handle him with much greater ease, we can get a body harness onto him and he can be safely tethered on the back seat rather than being in a crate. He loves being able to see out and he also loves sticking his nose through the gap in the car window. He is becoming quite a seasoned traveller and other than squeals of excitement, he is now mostly quiet on journeys.

We have noticed that he gets a fright if somebody tries to touch him unexpectedly or if he can't see what is coming and he definitely prefers it when people bend down themselves before trying to pet him and he is terribly afraid of anyone wearing "big workman type" boots and also of arms raised high above the head. He will bark at boots and raised arms will make him cower and try to take cover. Having said that though, in quite a short time he has become much more comfortable with physical affection and now allows us to hand groom him all over including his paws which he would not let anybody touch initially. Now he will shake hands with each of his front paws and he regularly rolls onto his back to be tickled on his tummy. He loves being scratched behind his ears or under his chin and will let me gently brush his "beard" and also trim the hair round his eyes with a small pair of scissors.

We are very friendly with a family who live near us. Bodi has become friendly with them too. The two young lads (aged 13 and 10) live with their mum who works and they are not in a position to have a dog though both boys would love to do so. Before we adopted Bodi, I spoke to their mum and then asked the boys if they would be prepared to "help me" to take care of a dog if we rescued one. They were both very keen and they have risen to the challenge wonderfully. They love Bodi and he loves them. We started off very gradually though, after we had had Bodi for about a month, we took him with us when we went to visit their house, only for an hour or so initially and then a longer visit and Francisco and I left him there for a short while and then went went back for him. Bodi is now very happy to be dropped off at the boys house and spend much of the day there with his "other family". The youthfulness of the two young boys playing football in the garden is quite a contrast to what he gets from me and my mobility scooter and sometime this summer holiday, we will probably have the first "sleepover" when Bodi will stay there overnight. Very recently, the two young boys and I took Bodi (with Di and one of her dogs) to encourage him to swim. It was a great success and after some hesitation at first, Bodi was swimming to get a ball and then bring it back. (See pictures below)

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The experience of adopting a dog has been wholly positive and entirely wonderful! Not only have we been able to give a good home to a dog who had an unfortunate start in life, but he has given us friendship, loyalty and love beyond our expectations. Before Bodi, there were some days when I seemed to have little or no reason to get out of bed in the morning. Now I have another living creature to care for and love and Bodi is well worth every ounce of effort. Having the opportunity to get to know and work with Di and her colleagues at the SWD rescue Centre has been another unexpected bonus of this whole experience. Amazingly, Bodi seems to have some extra instinct about my disabilities. He understands and knows that I walk unsteadily and slowly and he stays back and never crowds me. He will not rush up stairs in front of me, in fact he always waits for me to go up on the stair lift first (I have never trained him to do this) he follows the lift up (very slowly, one patient step at a time because stair lifts are very slow) and he waits until I am safely standing on the landing and until I say "come on" before he comes all the way up. It is quite remarkable! The expressions on his face when I talk to him change constantly. They frequently make me laugh because he is animated and sometimes quite comical to look at. The old saying "laughter is the best medicine" is certainly true - Bodi's quizzical looks and statuesque poses make me laugh now, and laughing is so much better than crying!

Update 2014

PicBodi has learned to sit on the scooter when there is no room for him to walk beside it.