River the rescue toy poodle

River the rescue toy poodle

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Beth had her heart set on a rescue Staffy and spent three months searching her local rescue groups for a suitable match. Then a tiny toy poodle changed her mind. Here's their story.

“I had been hunting for a rescue Staffy, or Staffy cross breed for three months, looking through rescue organisation websites, and making frequent visits to my local shelters. My family has a lot of rescue dogs between them, and most of them are Staffies, or cross breeds, so I’m familiar with the breed and know they would likely fit in well with my lifestyle. I was after a dog that was medium sized, robust, and easy going with children, older people and other dogs. While I’d met some lovely dogs across a lot of breed types during my search, they were all quite large and had various fear related issues, and I knew we wouldn’t be the best fit for each other.

One morning I dropped in to the RSPCA again, hopeful that this time I’d find ‘the one.’ I was walking along the kennels, seeing big dog after big dog. Then I passed a seemingly empty cage, with no name tag or description, and just a tiny nose poking out. River tip toed so carefully to the front of the kennels, shaking like a leaf, and then she sat next to the fence and let me stroke her. Well that was it – it turned out the Staffy I was waiting for was River, the tiny three kilo toy poodle. Proving the old expression that "we don’t choose dogs, dogs choose us".

River’s rescue story

River was removed by the RSPCA after a report of a backyard breeder keeping dogs in tiny cages. When they removed her, she was so terrified of the rescuers that she went into labour. She had two tiny healthy pups who were also rescued by the RSPCA. Once River’s babies were re-homed, they started looking for a home for her.

While she was relatively sturdy health wise - she did have luxating patellas and was severely matted, the biggest issue was her intense fear of people and other dogs. I suspect she had been beaten at the puppy farm, because she was terrified of hands – if someone approached her with their hand out she would run away very quickly. She’d also cower and shake when strangers were around.

For me, one of the biggest rewards is seeing how far she’s come out of her shell in only 18 months. We became part of a Perth Poodle group, and that has helped her blossom further. We took part in a fundraiser for a local pet rescue charity, and she was on the poster for that. But her true rags to riches story happened when my groomer asked if she could compete in a Pet Expo with her and they came first place and best in group! She has another contest coming up, and she really enjoys the show experience, which shows how far she’s come. She’s also become one of those ‘famous’ dogs – where people will approach us, asking “oh, is that River?” She gets a lot of snuggles with people when we are out now, and she loves the attention.

She’s also a therapy dog, along with my other rescue, a Shih Tzu I adopted a few months after River was settled with me. I work in an aged care facility, and River and Tidus come along once a week for cuddles with the residents. They were especially helpful when the in-house therapy dog passed away of old age. We came in for an emergency visit to help cheer everyone up.

There’s a lot of rescue dogs out there that need a loving home, and they are so appreciative of their second chance. Even dogs with fear and anxiety issues can overcome them with some patience and love, and the human and home that’s right for them.

River at home


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