Sometimes, when a dog joins class, a nickname comes out without even thinking about it. Often it’s the same one the owners use, Nancy Pants joined puppy class earlier this year. She’s a very sweet maltipoo, affectionate and cuddly, but her early life wasn’t so sweet.
She was given up by a breeder along with her two sisters, he didn’t want unsold puppies to care for. Her snow white fur was urine stained, matted with faeces and the smell matched the visual appearance. It’s clear she was neglected in the home and she was rightfully nervous of people.
Thanks to Sarah’s kindness and gentle nature, Nancy has flourished. From hiding under the chair for most of her first few lessons, Nancy has learned what love looks like in her new home. No longer terrified and scared of people, Nancy is now a cheeky little monkey with a bright personality and a mischievous side that is a joy to see.
One of Nancy’s favourite things to play with is people’s shoes. Dogs love a good smelly shoe! And the confidence for her to explore without fear is worth the missing shoe once in a while.
It’s been a slow process of understanding and confidence building to get her here. Poor Nancy would run away if Sarah’s hubby even looked in her direction, but through lots of reward based training, letting Nancy explore at her own pace and endless patience she now loves cuddles.
After weeks of slow introductions and desensitisation to get Nancy to wear a harness, and walks around the block were a big scary thing to start with. Celebrating every tiny little win as it happened has meant that Nancy now enjoys long walks around the local nature reserve, seeing people and dogs without worry.
Four months of being with the breeder had a lifelong impact. How much of her nervousness and fearfulness are due to genetics and how much down to the lack of early socialisation we will never know. But we do know that unregulated breeding often produces nervous and anxious dogs.
Cuteness isn’t a reason to breed from a dog.
Lockdown saw an explosion of people breeding without temperament testing for a quick profit. A dog predisposed to anxious and fearful behaviours will likely produce puppies that are the same. As well as testing for genetic conditions and diseases we should be thinking about the temperament of both mother and father before considering breeding.
Nancy may have been nothing more than a profit margin to her breeder. But she has now found a loving and caring home, full of compassion and empathy. Nancy is one of the lucky ones, and anyone who meets her is lucky and honoured to have snuggles too.