Homecoming – Arrival

Arrival day

Your new spinone has been moved multiple times in recent months. The dogs may also have been neutered in the last few weeks. At the very least had a long journey in strange new surroundings with vet preparation first, so they have been prodded, poked and pulled about never knowing that what is happening is for their own good.

Collection and the first weeks are a very high risk time for a dog to be lost. The journey will have been stressful for them and it is vital to be very alert at this time. Having been kept in kennels, the sound of normal everyday life can often upset these dogs, causing them to panic. In time, your dog will need training and introducing to whatever collar and lead combination you prefer. But for handover and the first few weeks, a secure harness is better, or kennels often use slip leads as they are easier to put on a nervous dog – whichever you are more comfortable with.

For potential AHPA inspection, the dog must remain on your premises for 48 hours after arrival – so garden walks only. The AHPA inspect around 50% of new arrivals, and they will call first if they intend to do this. It is just to check paperwork.

Your new spinone has been moved multiple times in recent months. The dogs may also have been neutered in the last few weeks. At the very least had a long journey in strange new surroundings with vet preparation first, so they have been prodded, poked and pulled about never knowing that what is happening is for their own good.

Many dogs adapt surprisingly quickly and are happy straight away, but others can react differently. “Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst”.

Giving your new charge room in the house to explore properly and to find a place where they feel safe pays dividends in the coming weeks. I have also found that sitting with a nervous dog in this safe place and stroking them softly starts the bonding and enables you to check their coat, paws and their general condition. I have spent many happy hours chatting and stroking my girl while sitting at the top of the stairs. Every dog is different and by observing them, you will see where they are happy and relaxed. They then start to relax and breathe in their new life.

Standing in front of the dog, pulling on the collar, picking up and standing over the dog can make a dog feel even more uncomfortable and unsafe. Even too much touching and cuddling can be overwhelming for a dog that’s unused to it.  Let the dog come to you, and allow it to set its own pace.  Getting down to the dog’s level and being still, so that he or she can approach you, is a better idea.

Sveva approaches her new family after exploring the garden

You can help the dog by being relaxed and calm yourself.

Introductions to other dogs

If you have a dog already, make sure it doesn’t lose out with the new family member, which can create resentment. Make sure that the dogs are a positive experience for each other. It is not uncommon for recently arrived rescues to be very stressed and this can result in some out-of-character aggressive behaviour through their fear. Keep calm, soothe the dogs and work on small, positive experiences together. Give them space to move around each other – body language is very important for dogs.

A long lead can be a helpful extra safety measure sometimes. A dog with a trailing lead must be fully supervised.

 Food
On arrival they are likely to be hungry. They will not have had a large meal en route as we do not want them to be sick or have the runs.
We suggest a light meal of a little chicken and rice to start with, as this is generally easily digested. Feed little and often to start with, and then mix the chicken and rice in with the regular food you plan to feed them on, and build to to the normal feeding routine over 2 – 3 days.

Small meals more frequently also encourages bonding, training and highlights quickly anything that does not agree with your dog!

A Kong filled with food and then frozen can be a good way to settle a nervous dog. Resource guarding can be an issue with dogs who have always had very little, this should be worked on in a positive way. There are some good suggestions here.

Ongoing contact

We very much appreciate photos and videos that we can send to the volunteers in Italy – it is a big step in trust for them to let the dogs go so far. One of our biggest issues is persuading the volunteers to let the dogs leave the country. Normally in Italy, dogs are only rehomed to the immediate vicinity of a refuge, so that the volunteers can check how they are settling.

So it’s a huge help to us in building connections and trust with the volunteers (without whom our work would be impossible) if we can show them the happy lives the dogs are leading! Your photos help to build a good reputation for us – keeping the road to freedom clear for the next dogs to take it.

And of course the volunteers have often become very fond of the dogs in their care, and love to get news of them – as do all those who helped fund them and supported in other ways.

We also  like to do a follow-up visit where possible after a few months – it’s very rewarding for the home checker to see how well the dog has settled!

Wishing her charge goodbye and “Buona Vita”

Finally, spend the time to sit and enjoy your beautiful spinone , the knowledge of its life to date is sealed in its heart – their gift, their life they bring to you – treasure it, it will enrich your life and heart for the rest of your days. Please know that you will always find a listening ear and advice to guide you every step of the way in this group should you ever need one.