I first met Stella on the day that she came into 'Man's Best Friend' for rehoming. Her original owners had worked with Chaz to improve her behaviour around other dogs, which had been successful, but also she 'had issues' with their other dog. It was with deep regret that her owners made the difficult decision to part with Stella as this situation in the home was proving very difficult to resolve.

She certainly looked the 'Rotty' part. I thought she was beautiful with lovely markings, big, I thought, for a bitch, but seemingly, she had an interesting temperament! We learned that Stella also had a medical condition regarding her 'water works' which would require daily medication.

I had been working with Kim on re-training 'Man's Best Friend's' rescue dogs for some time and I was looking forward to 'getting my teeth stuck in' to Stella's training as I felt it was going to be a challenge. Initially, after she had settled into the kennels, I needed to establish who was in charge in our new relationship. I began to take her out to the park with zero tolerance on the lead. I felt that from what I had seen, she could be unpredictable. This initial training went well and soon I was able to begin extending this control out with a long line.

A vital element of dog training is tea for the handler and Stella spent a fair amount of time at the Cafe at Hartsholme where she gradually became more and more chilled out when people and more importantly, other dogs, were nearby.

I found working with Stella incredibly satisfying as I saw the difficult traits in her personality mellow. Chaz and Kim were always on hand to offer advice and Stella would walk reliably with other dogs with a lead trailing. I took her to the zoo that I call home one day while I had a sandwich, where I really saw Stella in a new light. She was actually nervous of everything -  the noise of switching the kettle on, feeling the carpet under her feet, cars going past the window. Sudden movements would provoke a nervous reaction which I think was linking back to her volatile relationship with the other dog in the original family. I took her for a walk with my other dogs and Stella behaved impeccably. I knew I was getting hooked and honestly, I did try to be firm with myself, but it became increasingly difficult to take her back to the kennels.

Over the next few weeks, Stella spent odd days with us (husband Richard, daughters Emily and Amy) at home, in addition to training in the park. Everybody fell in love with her. Our house is often full of herds of teenagers who give the dogs lots of fuss, which Stella enjoyed. She was incredibly playful with my other dogs who accepted her with no problem, probably because she is a bitch and they are all dogs?? However, I was anxious about her reaction to my cats. They are not frightened of dogs as they have grown up around them. This did take some work, but it is great now to see them rubbing around Stella with no problem.The rest is history. She stayed for a weekend and did not return to the kennels.

Stella has been with us now for about a month. She is very much a part of our family and we love her to bits. She has a wonderfully expressive face and is really a great big softie. People from the dog walking fraternity locally are getting used to seeing us with her now(!) and we are continuing to introduce her to new dog friends in a controlled way. She is a dog that does not need 'over stimulating' where old behaviours could resurface, but even though our house sometimes feels like a hotel with all the teenage comings and goings, everyone is very used to the dogs and treat them in a calm manner, which is just what Stella needs. As the days pass by things just get better and better.

Sue Grace
Man's Best Friend Trainer & Instructor