We had been assessed at home by the British Dalmatian Welfare (BDW) in November 2013 and we were found suitable to adopt a Dalmatian. Our previous Dalmatian “Dice” sadly passed away 12 years ago aged 13. We were both excited by the prospect of our new arrival Charley. We were due to meet the BDW coordinator Carol Dolder at mid-day on 5th January 2014 to collect Charley and drive him back to his new home.
We drove to the meeting point and waited in the bleak winter sunshine until Carol drove around the corner at the agreed time with Charley in the back of her car, he was excited and full of energy. He was also very much bigger than expected for his age. He jumped out of the car and was keen to say hello and thoroughly sniff the surrounding area. After completing the adoption paperwork in the car park we were then the proud new owners of Charley. We had also received a very warm and personal letter from the previous owners with the explanation of why they had reluctantly put him up for adoption. It was clear from their letter he had been loved but he needed a new home where he could be given lots of exercise.
The journey home seemed a lot longer as Charley was nervous in the car but as soon as we pulled up on the drive he was taken for a very short walk around the block to mark his scent and allow him to stretch his legs. Once indoors he soon settled and began exploring the rooms and garden. We were grateful to the previous owners for handing over his feeding bowls and bedding to allow Charley to settle in more easily with us. Early in January 2014 we contacted our local Kennel Club to enquire about dog training. We were told to take him for an assessment but to be prepared to leave training for a further couple of months to allow him time to bond with us.
On the advice of the BDW coordinator we initially walked Charley on his lead for 3 short walks a day. Charley is like any young Dalmatian full of energy and wanted to sniff and explore and he would typically pull us along even when wearing his harness. Using strong voice commands plenty of praise and doggy treats he soon learnt what he could and couldn’t’t do in the house and when out exercising. As the first few weeks passed the walks become longer and he responded to the recall command whilst on the on the flexi lead. The moment to let him off the lead and run free for the first time was a nervous period for us as we had been told by the BDW coordinator that he had never been free to run before in an open space. We choose our local beach as our test area to let him go free. We let Charley off his lead for the first time and it was a wonderful site to see him ran so fast and zig zaged across the sand and pebbles on the beach. Further runs on the beach and the nearby marshes became a regular thing and he was quite good on recall.
The Kennel Club Training started in early April 2014 and classes were weekly for the puppy class. Charley was a very sociable dog and mixed well with the other dogs, which were all younger puppies. The weekly sessions saw his overall behaviour improve and he responded better to his name and commands. He was reluctant however to lie down on the tiled floor in the church hall, he much prefers soft carpet. The evening of the puppy test arrived and we were delighted when Charley passed and received his certificate and rosette. The trainers were very complimentary of his progress but were amazed at his size. With all the exercise he was trimmer but had bulked up and was just over 30k of muscle and testosterone. We were then asked by the Kennel Club trainers if we had considered going onto the bronze test and we decided that it would benefit all of us as it would improve the overall development of Charley.
We took many photographs and emailed them to our BDW coordinator Carol who forwarded these on to Charley’s original owners. The previous owners were delighted to receive the reports on Charley progress.
Charley passed his bronze test and received his certificate and rosette. The Kennel Club trainers who had conducted the weekly training sessions were very complimentary and said how well he had progressed since the training had started in April 2014. Although we had noticed the difference in Charley it was encouraging to hear it from the professionals. Charley is now settled in his new life and is very much part of our family and we have decided to continue his training to the silver level.
As the year marches on and we reflect on the time Charley has spent with us we are proud of his ability to settle and learn. We are so lucky to have him and its reassuring that the previous owners are comforted slightly by the fact that he is happy and doing well. We would like to thank the previous owners for loving Charley and making the brave and heart breaking decision to let him go. We continue to keep our BDW coordinator updated of Charley’s progress with emails and photographs and she kindly forwards them onto Charley original owners to keep them updated of his continuing developments.
We would also like to thank all those members of the BDW charity that we have met or spoken to for their hard work that makes these situations possible. Our special thanks are reserved for our BDW volunteer Carol Dolder who has been there to offer guidance, advice and support. We really are so lucky to have Charley and who knows maybe we can in the future find a four-legged Dalmatian companion for him, watch this space.
Charlie has been awarded most improved rescue dog by his local dog training club.