Getting to know you

2012-11-08 00:00

IN September 2009, Mark Deacon, a medical doctor from Umhlanga, approached me regarding aggression from his adult female British bulldog, Penny, towards a 10-week-old Border collie puppy. Then about two years later, Deacon, who had been looking to find Penny a companion, came across an adult male British bulldog, Jack. The following is a transcript of an interview conducted by CNN (Canine News Network) with Jack.

CNN: Hello Jack. Good to see you.

Jack: Good day. If anybody tells you I am cute, then don’t believe them. Wait till you see my teeth and hear me growl, I dare say. Anyway, approximately two years ago, I was re-homed, but my new master, Mark, being concerned that I might lose it, took me straight to Dogtor Steve’s singles introductions club.

CNN: Is this a club for dogs?

Jack: That’s correct, I dare say.

CNN: So what happened?

Jack: Well, upon my arrival, I saw a couple of the Dogtor’s dogs who wanted to meet me. Unfortunately, I was a little rattled and went on the offensive. Luckily for them, if Dogtor Steve had not held me back, I would have put all eight of his dogs in hospital.

CNN: Wow, you seem to be quite a hunk!

Jack: Oh yes. Anyway, our living area was open plan with wire mesh. On one side was Gunther, a male St Bernard cross boerbul and on the other side was Penny. We smelt each other through the fence, and once satisfied all was in order, I began relaxing.

CNN: So what was it like there?

Jack: Well, I spent the first few days getting used to the new routines. Mornings began with a tasty treat and in the evening I had my main meal. The first time Dogtor Steve told me to sit I wandered what he had been smoking. How dare he tell me, a British bulldog, to sit? So I remained standing. Surprisingly, he did not force me. Having tried my best to dominate him, I eventually gave up. His communication was easy to understand and by the third day I saw he was a ‘commander’, not a ‘demander’. From then on, I looked forward to taking instructions from him.

CNN: What happened with Penny?

Jack: A few days later, I had my first date with her. After smelling each other, I walked over to a tree and left a sizable ‘message’. Penny had a sniff and then we just walked around getting to know each other. Apparently, she had passed Dogtor Steve’s course on tact and diplomacy with flying colours. During the date, we were chaperoned by Dogtor, who I guess, needed to ensure I “did not lose it”. Then two days later, we left and I moved in with her.

CNN: Was this at Dr Deacon’s house?

Jack: That is correct, I dare say.

CNN: How did it go?

Jack: Fine until August this year when Penny became ill and was taken to the vet. That was the last time I saw her. She was diagnosed with incurable cancer and had to be put to sleep. When my master came home there were tears running down his face. He just held me and cried with grief.

CNN: I am sorry it had to end like that. I suppose things became a bit lonely.

Jack: Well, being British I dare say, one has to keep a stiff upper lip and all that, but I must admit, it was not the same without her. Anyway, my master decided to get me a new companion. Unfortunately, I have to go to a meeting now, so that story will have to wait for another time. Thank you.

•  Steve van Staden is a canine behaviour specialist and can be contacted via his website: www.dogtor steve.co.za Advice is only dispensed in face-to-face meetings with owners and their pets.

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