We had a dog come into our board and rehab program a little while ago, a special boy with a long, very difficult life that one day ended and a new life began.
Buddy was a camp dog from an Indigenous community, he survived by being leader of the pack, resilient and smart, as is necessary when you are a dog that lives in a highly dangerous and competitive environment.
When trying to find food, Buddy was stabbed, kicked, run over by cars multiple times, infested by ticks, had broken ribs, torn cruciate, and carries many scars that no one knows how he got.
Oh, and he had boiling water tipped over his back…
Now, I wish I could say that the above treatment was a once off, but sadly I have seen quite a few camp dogs with the same injuries.
This article is not about Buddy being abused, it is a about who he is today and the incredible, selfless lady to saved him and brought him to us.
Ok so, I am going to begin this story where I became involved. Buddy’s mum contacted me, and we did a phone consult to discuss if I could help him overcome some of his past traumatic experiences.
She had sent me graphic pictures of Buddy when he was free running in the community and we have placed them here, but warning they are very graphic and hard to look at.
The next step was to get Buddy here from Interstate, so of course his mum brought him along. This lady had chosen to save Buddy and nothing was stopping her. This is a certain type of person that will sacrifice everything to save a life.
When he arrived, he gave us a lot of low growls, he was very stressed, hey if I had been burned, run over by cars, stabbed, kicked and who knows what else, I would be wondering if I was up for another round!
Below are some links to pictures of Buddy, if you click these links you will see the horror his life was.
These are disturbing images, you do not need to look at them to gain the benefit from this story.
I think this is a very good time to try and highlight just what it is we do here when it comes to rehabilitating dogs.
Many dogs that come to us are highly aggressive, have impressive bite histories, some have been physically abused, some mentally and some of them simply were not given the education and resources to learn to control their impulses.
A high percentage come in here as a last resort, the buck stops with us, as they say. Some are in trouble with council, and or have landed their owners in legal problems and so on.
This can be stressful and dangerous work.
A lot of these dogs have been severely over indulged, they have been allowed to have total freedom to do as they pleased without being taught the value of impulse control and the ability to self regulate.
This one can be a tough one to deal with because many of the behaviours that indulge the dog are aggressive. This may include predation, resource guarding, territorial behaviours and more.
Understand that, when a dog uses these behaviours to get access to things they want, when prevented from displaying these behaviours, they feel stress, anxiety, frustration and sometimes aggression towards the handler.
We have trainers come here to partake in Masterclasses, very often when they see the dogs we are working with, they remark how different the world we work in is to theirs.
You really must understand that many, not all, but many of the dogs we get here are very serious cases, very mixed up and very dangerous.
This is not simple obedience training, plying dogs with handfuls of food and all will be sunshine.
So, back to Buddy…
I started working with Buddy a few times a day, just getting a leash on him and getting him out of the kennels for a walk in the sun. He would have a long line on, so he could explore and decompress.
He would eat a meal from a bowl but not touch food from anyone’s hand, I guess he had fallen for that before.
Buddy began to look forward to our time together and a little trust started to develop. Teaching and training some of our Life Skills program elements, Buddy loved the small challenges we provided him.
Day by day he became happier and happier, looking at his scars and burns, I have to say I have so much respect for him, being able to become optimistic again.
A good friend of mine was able to source me some very special cream for his burns. This is similar to what is used at RPA for burns victims and it really started to show improvement in his skin condition.
Buddy was really not in great shape structurally, he had who knows how many injuries, so we organised a consultation with our Osteopath Sam Sherrington.
Sam worked with Buddy for an extended period of time, he was full of compensations. These are where the body has reacted to an injury and compensated to try and relieve some load on that area.
Calcifications, locked up spine, ribs displaced etc you really cant imagine. The whole time Sam was working with him, he just kept looking forward, eating food, not a growl, not a snap.
We had a few breaks over the treatment and Buddy got to stretch and walk around. He was smiling and dancing around pain free, it’s just incredible to watch.
He will never be back to “normal”, his body and mind has been through unimaginable things, but after the treatment, he felt so much better.
We continued to work with Buddy, meeting new people and other dogs and he thrived. I can honestly say that, when we would walk into the kennel area, he became one of the happiest dogs we have ever produced.
Buddy loves everyone now, yes, he had bitten people in the past, but I wonder how most of us would fare if we had been treated as Buddy had.
Buddy has been deeply loved by his owner, she would do anything for him, in fact, over the course of making Buddy hers, it cost well over $10 000 to save Buddy. This included having a small plane fly him to safety.
Whilst this may sound like an exorbitant price, I feel this was like a ransom, a price paid to end his suffering.
Buddy was given a series of challenges; they were designed to be just outside of his comfort zone. Each time he succeeded in a challenge his confidence grew.
Buddy needed to realise that his abuse was not due to who he was, or what he did or didn’t do. It was all to do with someone else. He gained confidence and believed in himself, he stopped expecting to be abused and began smiling at everyone and everything.
Buddy has gone home now; he has rules and boundaries and plenty of love and reward in his life. He has been perfectly behaved reports say.
I think when I am facing a challenge, I will try and think of Buddy and his attitude towards life.
He is just one more dog I will not forget.