Charlie and Dakota - rescue puppy siblings

Charlie and Dakota - rescue puppy siblings

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"With rescues, you never know exactly what you’re getting but it’s so rewarding". In celebration of puppy month, we share Facebook member Belinda James’s story of adopting two puppies, Dakota and Charlie.

“Dakota was my first dog, and I rescued her after she was taken in by the Fido and Whiskers Rescue organisation. I had inquired about her earlier - she was advertised on Gumtree, classified as abandoned, but before I had a chance to meet her, the advertiser said she had been taken in by a rescue. I searched pet rescues online and found her. She was only six months of age when I adopted her, and I was originally told she was a Ridgeback Cross breed, but she’s never grown beyond 16 kilograms, so we are not sure that’s correct.

When I adopted Dakota, it was hard to bond with her as she was very independent and not interested in connecting with me at all. All up, it took a solid three months for her to start to bond with me. It’s been three years now, and she’s still independent, but we have developed an incredible bond that was worth the time and effort – and I don’t blame her for not trusting me straight away, as I have no idea what she had been through before we found her.

It also took ages for my cats to accept her; they moved outside for around a year when Dakota came to live with us. I did slow introductions, and Dakota thought the cats were the best thing ever, but it was a year after her arrival that my older cat decided he had enough of being annoyed and walked up the back steps, pushed past her and came inside! Dakota has been big sister to many foster dogs. She’s also the reason we foster-failed with our latest family member, Charlie – a now ten-month-old Great Dane. She was always kissing him and adored being in his company, so we decided to formally adopt him too. Dakota happily shares her toys with him, even though a few of them have explored under his ‘care.’

Charlie came to us from the Murray Bridge Pound after he was picked up by rangers and no one claimed him, and he was taken in by Scruffy Lovers rescue. We’d recently finished fostering another dog who had gone to their forever home and hadn’t planned to take on another so soon. Then the vet bought out this scrawny, pure black pup with the biggest feet I have ever seen, and my first words were "oh my goodness, you’re so cute, and you’re coming home with me.

He refused to get in the car, but at only 19kg, we were able to get him in. Only five months later, he’s 39kg, growing fast - and gets in the car on his own, thank goodness! My bond with Charlie was instant, and he has been loyal from day one, following me everywhere.

Taking on Charlie has been so rewarding, and at times and extremely challenging. He suffers from fear aggression and leash reactivity, but by working with trainers and friends and their dogs, we’ve seen massive improvements in him. I enlisted the help of a behaviour trainer, who helped me understand Charlie and showed me strategies that work with him. I was also very lucky to have a friend who has two amazing rescue dogs, Boba and Link, who helped me immensely with Charlie - we walked as a pack, and we walked and walked!  It took a good month before I saw a massive improvement in Charlie’s behaviour.

With rescues, you never know exactly what you’re getting but it’s so rewarding. And if you are going to adopt a puppy, be aware there can be extra work involved, as with any puppy – they do need more attention, they still need to learn all the basics, and they wee and poo, cry and chew things up around the clock! So it’s important to look at your lifestyle and how much time you have to give them.”

Charlie and Dakota - rescue siblings

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