Female, 11½ years old
Pepsi, 5½ years old
We adopted Pepsi in April 2016, when she was 4½, after her previous owner sadly passed away. For the last few weeks of his illness, Pepsi had been cared for in the boarding kennels where she usually spent her ‘holidays’ so when we collected her, she was understandably very excitable, attention-hungry and bouncy. She leapt into the boot of our car without hesitation but on the journey home was anxious and restless, pacing and whining most of the way.
When Pepsi first came to live with us, she was overweight, very excitable and had irritated, waxy ears. She came with no belongings except for a terrible collar which was much too big for her and adorned with metal decorations which caught the ends of her ears, making them bleed.
Our first outing was to a pet supermarket, the next to the vet for a check-over. Armed with a dog bed, blanket, collar, lead, food, treats, toys, ear drops and a target weight, we felt ready for anything ….. she was our first family dog ….. how naïve were we?!!
Pepsi loved our home, our garden, lots of attention, her new bed, and all of us. She went to her bed in the kitchen at night without complaint and stayed quiet until we came down in the morning. She loathed the ear drops (I thought she was going to bite me once), being made to stay off the lounge furniture (very vocal complaining), her lovely toys (ripped apart in disgust), reduced rations (ever hungry) and pulled terribly on the lead, leaping noisily and aggressively at other dogs when out for walks. However, at least she didn’t seem to know how to go upstairs so that was one argument we didn’t have to have with her!
After 3 days of almost non-stop tail wagging, Pepsi’s tail suddenly and inexplicably stopped wagging and hung limply down. She cried out in pain when I tried to lift it which was very concerning. We scoured the internet and out adoption assessor spoke to friends – it was agreed she had Limber Tail, otherwise known as Dead Tail or Sprained Tail, and she had sprained the muscle at the base of her tail due to sudden excessive use! How sad – injury due to excessive happiness!
All better after another 3 days, by which time, Pepsi had come into Season! A month of pavement pounding ensued – but a good time for lead training using tiny treats (I got instructions for this off the internet) and getting used to other local dogs (regularly crossing roads so as to maintain distance from them). Slowly but surely, she began to walk more sensibly on a lead on pavements – it’s still far from perfect, but manageable now.
One of the things we weren’t prepared for was the increasingly scary greeting we received from Pepsi. At first, it was a wagging tail and slight smile but over time, progressed to full-on teeth-bared, nose-wrinkled snarl expression accompanied by sneezes and the occasional growl that really worried our son when he arrived for his first weekend home after her arrival!! We were assured by others that this really was a typical passionate, friendly Dally greeting.
After her Season, a few dog classes helped Pepsi calm down around other dogs and gave us more confidence in handling her. Then, with microchip details up to date, recall training began – very successful when using salmon skin as a treat and oh, what pride I felt the first time she instantly came to me when called back, up at our local Woodland Park.
Our girls have very much enjoyed teaching Pepsi little ‘tricks’ using lots of tempting morsels. Pepsi finds having to wait for high-value, edible rewards most trying and will not wait for long!
In June, only 3 months after adopting Pepsi, my elder daughter and I decided to be brave and take Pepsi to the BDW Fun Day … our first outing with her to somewhere crowded with lots of other dogs in close proximity and picnic lunches! We need not have worried. For the most part, she was very well behaved, even passing her Bronze Good Citizen’s Award. What we did realise though was that in similar situations, we needed more than a standard collar and lead, so invested in the BDW recommended harness while we were there. Pepsi doesn’t like wearing it but it does the job of keeping her by our sides with minimal effort.
A highlight that first summer was taking Pepsi on holiday with us to a rental cottage in Old Hunstanton where the beach is dog-friendly all year round and dogs are welcome in many pubs, cafes and restaurants. Pepsi adored galloping around the wide, open beach with new doggy friends and lost loads of weight despite extra treating while we dined out.
A year on and we couldn’t imagine our family life without Pepsi. She is very sweet-natured, loving and loyal, trustworthy around people of all ages and dogs, and will even calmly say hello to a local, brave cat so long as it sits still (running means ‘chase me’!). Since being spayed and losing 6½ kilos in weight, Pepsi’s energy levels have significantly increased and we are often asked how old our puppy/young dog is!! At home, she loves nothing better than to have someone sit on the floor so she can sprawl all over them and have her tummy rubbed. She is very talkative but hardly ever barks. Her ears still annoy her and need to be cleaned out regularly but at least this is under control now. Out and about, Pepsi enjoys saying hello to everyone and having a boisterous play with other playful dogs. She is very canny and knows who usually carries treats and will reward her for sitting hopefully at their feet! Her favourite activity is foraging, at which she is an expert, hunting out windfall apples until January (who knew they were still around at that time of year?), discarded banana skins (yuk!), any food, any form of gum (chewing gum, post-it notes, duck tape, etc), and of course anything she can reach on our kitchen work surfaces (no, we haven’t managed to stop that happening – yet!). She loves being off lead and we regularly take her to Dally Rallies where she enjoys bounding about with other spotties.
Oh, and by the way, my husband, who has never owned a dog before and was the least keen to have one, who was adamant that he would never pick up dog poo, is absolutely besotted – even offering to take Pepsi on walks by himself and yes, he picks up her poo too!!