Three months after bringing GrumbleTheDog into the family I thought I'd do a brief catch-up on how he's settling in. And it gives me a chance to make you all look at our cute photos.
But first of all I should correct something.
Whereas Croatian-born-abandoned-rescued Grumble, who is mainly crossed somewhere between Irish Wolfhound and German Shepherd, looks in every way like a big, soft, beige lump of fluff with a cutesy broken ear, he is in fact 11.8% reptile.
|Mister Grumble and Mister Grumpy|
For whereas the vast majority of his time is spent being all sleepy and scratchy and investigating his missing bits, and being tickled and brushed and cuddled, a small but significant portion of his day is occupied with hanging off my limbs by his teeth. Or Dawn's. He's not all that fussed.
It became obvious from the moment we first walked him that Grumble, who is somewhere between 18-months- and two-years-old and regularly described by strangers as "handsome", would need some training as he tried to chase everything from squirrels to horses and had us on our backsides a couple of times each in the first 24 hours. He could pull like an elephant.
So after recommendations from most doggy-owners we met on our subsequent walks, training was started at Cosford Dog Training, which appears to be incredibly popular with 'serious' dog owners from around the Midlands and beyond. The gruff Scouse trainer, Fitz, is a former RAF Police Dog Handler who owns and trains Jimmy, the 2016 British Police and Services Canine Association Champion... so he knew what he was doing. He's even got a new book out which I'm sure he'd love me to plug in return for free one-to-one training sessions, even though he doesn't know I'm writing about him.
Now after an eight-week foundation course - with Bronze-standard Kennel Club GCDS Scheme training starting in a few days - Grumble can sit, lie down, stay (for the most-part) and stop yanking on his lead (ditto). The one thing he can't/won't do 100% of the time is come back when he's called. It's always a gamble. A Grumble gamble.
So he's kind of sort of, like, gone missing a few times.
|Behaving in return for bits of hot dog|
That was until last night when I deliberately let him off the lead in the woods because I've been experimenting briefly with that lately, in relative safety where there are no roads in the immediate vicinity for him to get flattened on, to see if his recall is improving.
An hour and a half later Dawn and I were tramping through the pitch-black trees and heavy, thorny undergrowth with two torches, one of them failing, expecting to see him in a fox snare because other than a couple of early barks we hadn't even heard his chain jangle in all that time. We even got in the ManTruck and drove along the estate's tracks for a while, only to find him looking absolutely chuffed-to-bits with himself back at The Lodge with his fur packed full of stickyweed burrs.
We've now ordered a GPS tracker and a flashing LED collar for him. Just in case.
And then there's CrocaDog. Grumble's Other Side.
He gets excited when he has a treat; when we walk through the courtyard gate; when nobody's doing anything; when we give him a fuss; when we don't give him a fuss; when we put his lead on; when we do our 'clicker training'; when he sees the bird-feeder (weirdly); when he spies SausageTheCat (who he doesn't get on well with yet, but we're working on it)... you get the idea. Not all of the time, just sometimes. And when you least expect it.
And when CrocaDog gets excited, if you can't calm him with a steady, firm hand on his side and a gentle "shhhh...", CrocaDog goes mental. Seriously, seriously mental. And he bites - hard.
I've had a T-shirt and a hoodie torn in the frantic battles and both Dawn and I have suffered many scratches and bruises, although I seem to get the brunt of his unstoppable enthusiasm.
A few weeks ago my entire forearm was black-and-blue from the wrist towards the elbow and one of my legs was bleeding after he literally tried to eat me alive while we were all alone in the woods.
Although it appears otherwise, none of it is aggression - it's all excited puppy energy - but he was running to the end of his long (80ft) training rope then coming back like a 25kg bullet before launching himself police dog-style at my defensive arm as my life flashed in front of my (tightly closed) eyes and I screamed "NOT THE FACE!". I tried to pin him down but he was squirming like a giant furry salmon so I had to tie him to a tree and run away like a girl.
Seconds ago - and I'm not making this up - he came over to me for a tickle and after 20 seconds pawed at my hand and started nibbling my fingers. Shhhh...
|Grumble's suspicions are raised when he spots himself|
reflected in Trevor's head
So that's our Grumble now we've got to know him a bit. When he's tearing at human flesh he's genuinely terrifying but the rest of the time he's calm, patient and as gentle as you'd like.
He's proper, proper cuddly too.
|Cat training was easy-going before he realised who it looked like.|
We're not mad - Fitz told us to do this...
|Not physically possible|
|I can never get him past this rabbit hole|
|Censored for decency|