Velvet was the cutest little pot bellied puppy frolicking on a smallholding in Hoekwil. After a couple of attempted break-ins my wife and I decided it was time to get a large dog. Most of the siblings had been taken and she was the last female. Her father was one of the most beautiful Ridgebacks I have seen, and her Mom we were told was a Doberman Cross. Sounded like a perfect guard dog which she did turn out to be. We took our treasure home and she immediately fitted in with our pack, which at that stage consisted of a moody little peke, a chilled out pug, and a very well balanced miniature schnauzer named Basil. We make use of Basil when we meet other dogs, to indicate to us what he picks up and he will soon say whether a newcomer is a good fit, he is just so in tune.
Anyway Velvet came everywhere with us, as our dogs do. She met children, dogs, cats and many people along the way, at all stages of her development – the perfect upbringing. And yet, when she reached adulthood, she started to show signs of aggression toward strangers and certain dogs she met for the first time. If Velvet knew you she was the most loving gentle dog, but any outsider would be nipped. We continued to socialise her and to improve her behaviour, but somehow we had to accept that this was Velvet. For better or worse, we still have to work with her each day, she is our special needs child. I have come to realise over time (she is now 6 years old) that she is a very nervous girl, she lacks confidence and we have to keep building her self esteem. She certainly has improved and now we can have visitors (no children) over to our home, and she is ok. Once Velvet trusts you, it is forever. I believe she found her perfect home where she is accepted as is, and we love her dearly. Since then we have added 2 cheeky yorkies to the pack and she loves them, not once has she shown an ounce of aggression toward them. Even when as puppies they were pulling her ears and nipping her mouth. She is very patient. Had a dog like Velvet ended up with the wrong family, sadly she would most likely have ended up at a shelter, or worse. This has been one of my driving forces and added to my passion for what I do. How many misunderstood, ‘difficult’ dogs like Velvet have not led happy lives, as they have not had the time spent on them that they deserve. No one has delved deep enough and made enough sacrifices to make it a life time commitment, and give them what they need to live happy lives. Sometimes it seems all too easy to give up and move on, and blame it all on the dog.
I hope this story touches at least one person who may be struggling with a beloved pet and motivate them to get the help they both require.