For the first two weeks Dexter was still officially the responsibility of The Dogs Trust, so we had to keep him muzzled when out and on lead at all times.
We were told he was a lurcher but they had no idea what flavour. What we did know was that he was born on July 1st 2010 and brought over from Ireland as part of a litter. He was adopted by a family pretty quickly but 18 months later was brought back after apparently biting one of the children. This probably sealed his fate for the next 18 months as no one wanted to deal with that kind of behaviour.
As it happens, lurchers (and some other dogs) tend to ‘mouth’ the arms and hands of their owners as a sign of affection, their way of stroking you back. We suspect this is probably what happened but it’s understandable that parents don’t want to take that kind of risk.
We were also told that Dexter had a fear aggression issue, which meant he could not really be around other dogs. After being attacked by a brown Labrador type bitch whilst at Dogs Trust, he developed a bit of a hate towards this kind of breed. To this day, if not distracted with a treat, he will make himself very big and scary looking at the sight of any large, dark coloured dog. It’s his way of getting in first, a warning to them to keep away from him.
Deep down, he really is the biggest wuss though and would run a mile at the sign of any actual threat.
Because of his breed, he has a really strong prey drive too. Sighthounds are amazing at spotting movement, whether it be a fly (he’s great at catching blue bottles in the house), squirrels, pheasants, rabbits, cats, little dogs, a leaf blowing in the wind, whatever. If it moves and if it moves fast, he wants it. This was another reason we were told to be super careful when out and always need to be very mindful where and when we let him off for a run.
To add to the list of issues that left him increasingly hard to find a home for, he was nervous of new people, loud noises and terrified of fireworks. But despite the challenges, one of the Trust’s employees, Angela spent countless hours working with him, teaching him basic commands and building a strong bond.
Her work and the support she subsequently gave us was invaluable. We have the utmost respect for her and all the other people who work tirelessly with rescue animals of all kinds.
Which is why, if you’re thinking of getting a dog, I urge you to consider giving a home to a dog that really needs it. The staff at most rescue centres are trained to place the right dog with the right people. No one’s getting rich off the back of it and the feeling you get from giving one of these animals a better life was an added and unexpected bonus for me personally.
I knew within hours of Dexter being at home that this was no “two week trial”. As far as I was concerned, he would never spend another minute in a kennel.