When we knew we were getting our own home we started to get excited about the prospect of getting a dog. Both Ant and I grew up with dogs and our families have always had dogs since I can remember. To not have a hound of our own always felt a bit strange. Like there was a hole in our family unit. A dog shaped hole.
There isn’t anything quite like having a dog when you’re a child. A four-legged best friend is a pretty special thing. My childhood bestie was called Scrappy and he was one hell of a hound. I could go on about all the amazing things he did for days but let’s just put it this way, Marley & Me had nothing on our Scrap. As you can tell I have so many fond memories of him and I really wanted Luca to have that same experience.
Once we had moved we started to scour dog rescue websites to find the perfect furry friend. After weeks of daily searching, we finally stumbled across Ronnie. A young Labrador cross in need of his furever home.
I’d seen him a few times on the RSPCA website but I just wasn’t drawn to him. He then disappeared from the site for a while before eventually popping back up. As the centre was just around the corner from where we live I suggested we should go and meet him. Like I said I didn’t get the feel for him from the website but thought it was worth a walk down the road just in case.
I’m so glad we did.
When we arrived they told us a little bit of his background. He was seized by the RSPCA due to living in unsuitable circumstances. They then asked us if we had read his description. When we told them we had they then explained that he had been rehomed (which was why he disappeared from the website) and brought back after 13 days due to being too boisterous for the family. We quickly saw what they meant.
When they brought him out to meet us he dived over a table onto my knee and then back across to Ant. He spent the whole time jumping up at us, licking and nibbling/biting us. That was when he wasn’t running around like a loon and playing tug of war. He was much bigger than we expected but we’ve both grown up with big dogs so that didn’t put us off. The vets have since told us they think he is probably a Labrador x Great Dane, possibly with a bit of bull mastiff thrown in the mix too. Whatever he is though he is gorgeous. After a little play and a walk down the road, I had fallen for him. I was head over heels in love with the big, daft, boisterous lump.
Unfortunately though, when we took Luca to meet him he cried. He was too bouncy and knocked him over a few too many times. He really wasn’t keen and so I left feeling heavy hearted. Luca was more important though.
I lay in bed that night and couldn’t stop thinking about Ronnie. I decided I’d take Luca to meet him a few more times and see how we got on. I knew he would be trainable and that he would calm down with a few rules and a busy house to live in. We just needed Luca to warm to him.
After a few visits, Luca was getting used to him. He still wasn’t overly keen but he wasn’t crying anymore when he bounded towards him. I then took my parents and friend Ash, to meet him to see what they thought. I needed someone else’s opinion as I felt like my heart was massively ruling my head.
My dad loved him and made me feel like I wasn’t being as impulsive as I thought I was. We chatted for ages about whether I would be able to train him enough to calm him down and other things but the decision was made. A few days later I made the phone call to reserve him and within the week he was home with us.
We’ve now had him 4 months and he is very much a part of the family.
It hasn’t been an easy 4 months though. There has been lots of intense training, especially in the beginning, to teach him some manners, basic compliance and stop him jumping up at guests and visitors. He cried a lot on a night when he was left alone and he was a nightmare to walk on the lead. There was one night Ant was working a late shift and I sat on the stairs in floods of tears on the phone to him. I honestly questioned whether we had made a massive mistake as he had cried, howled and scratched at the door the whole time I’d been trying to get Luca to go to sleep. I was at the end of my tether. I knew it would take him a while to settle though, at least 13 days as he’d been taken back previously. He was just confused and scared.
He also didn’t seem to know what it was like to live in a house, everything was new and he was wary of most things, like the toilet flushing and the DVD player. Even being outside seemed to be all new to him.
Within a week or so all that had settled. He’s fine being left alone now. No longer scratches at doors or cries on a night. He knows lots of basic commands and even fetches the post for me on a morning. He brings his blanket to me on a night when he wants to get cuddled up on the sofa and will wait patiently outside for his food (he’s a dribbler). He doesn’t bark much, is really affectionate and adores Luca.
He’s a gentle giant with our bunny, he thinks she’s the best thing since sliced bread. The feeling isn’t mutual. He waits at the bottom of the stairs when we go up so he doesn’t knock us over (a lesson we had to learn the hard way) and goes down first. He doesn’t leave the house unless he’s told he can and is getting better at his recall off lead.
The training is still ongoing. Mostly with walking on the lead and manners towards other dogs but he’s very clever and seems to pick things up with ease.
We are all absolutely besotted with him, even if he is as daft as a brush and causes me more stress than Luca. He’s messy, smelly and always up to no good. He costs me an absolute fortune because big dogs eat more, their toys cost more as do their beds, bowls and treats. But he’s worth it as he also gives the best cuddles and makes us all feel good knowing that we saved him from any more nights in a cold lonely kennel.
He now has his furever home and will spend the rest of his life with us. He’s already had his first holiday to Norfolk, played on the beach and spent a day by the river digging up duck skeletons. He comes most places with us if he’s allowed and always seems to attract quite a lot of attention due to his unusual looks and big beautiful face. Attention, which funnily enough, he really doesn’t seem to mind.