Here is Buddy’s story from rescue to rehome.

My name is Buddy, I am a 5 year old male Doberman. I was used as a stud dog in Exeter for a couple of years and during that time I wasn’t looked after properly. I am sensitive and timid, and so my time in the kennels really affected me. Here is my story.

I was kept in stud kennels to make someone money. There were lots of dogs there, all pedigree large breed dogs. We slept in cages on the concrete and were let out during the day. I didn’t like being around so many entire males, there were fights and competition over food and territory. I still have scars on my face and body. Some of the other dogs were a lot more confident than me, so I tried my best to keep out of their way but because I am so timid I got picked on a lot. During meal times there would be arguments over the food and often I never got my full meal. I was 10kg underweight, my ribs and hips poked out and I had a very weak body. We weren’t exercised; we just walked about the yard. My muscles were weak and I had huge hard calluses on my joints from where I spent so much time lying on the concrete. Even to this day over a year later my body is still healing.

During the night in my sleeping area I chewed the metal cage and wore my teeth right down. I just wanted to get out. I craved human company and I didn’t like the noise and atmosphere of the kennels.

To pass the time and take my mind off the stressful surroundings, I licked my body a lot, too much. It released endorphins which made me feel a bit better, but I made bald patches on my fur and I did it out of habit. The stress of the environment made me shut down, I stopped using my nose to scent, I didn’t look about and I didn’t really hear things anymore, all my senses shut down as a coping mechanism. I became very withdrawn because I wanted to make myself invisible. When I stood or sat, I hung my head down really low, I looked really sad and I avoided eye contact with anyone, dog or human. The woman that ran the place was mean to me and I didn’t like her, I ran away when she called me, I didn’t like being anywhere near her.

There were too many dogs there and I didn’t feel like mating when the bitches were brought in, because I didn’t provide any litters I was no good to the breeder, I didn’t make her any money, and so she put me up for sale on gumtree, she would rather have had the money.

A nice lady came with her partner and her other dog which was also a Doberman, a bitch. The lady bought me straight away because she could see how thin and unhappy I was and she wanted to help me. As soon as I left the kennels and got outside, her dog jumped all over me to play, but I was so weak, stressed, and not in the mood for play, so I attacked her in defence. This was my first encounter with this bitch and we did not get on. Back at the new home I was still very withdrawn and I didn’t eat much. I had really short teeth from where I chewed the cage and I couldn’t eat the kibble properly, it fell out of my mouth on the floor. I had to be separated from the other Doberman because she was too bouncy for me and I fought her to get her off me. The next few weeks I was loved and cared for, but I was still not happy living with this other dog and I continued licking my fur and having nightmares. I growled a lot in my sleep and I went toilet indoors because I was so anxious.

After a few weeks the new owner put me for sale on gumtree because she knew I needed to go to another home where I was the only dog.

Another lady came to see me, she took me for a walk and was shocked at how withdrawn I was, she noticed that I don’t look around, I just hung my head down. I didn’t look at other dogs and I didn’t take treats. She saw I had no life in my eyes, there was no spirit, no soul. She found this quite shocking. After a walk along the beech the observed me around children and other dogs, she sensed that underneath it all I was a good boy and she took me home with her.

This was my 4th home in a few months and I was not coping with all the change of environment. I didn’t understand what was going on and I didn’t feel like eating. My new owner took me for a walk and put a muzzle on me and a bib that said “I NEED SPACE”. The bib flapped about on my rear and spooked me so I ran off into the forest, frightened and anxious. I didn’t like being touched on my rear. She came and found me and I stayed close to her for every walk, I never ventured far. I didn’t like other dogs near me, so when I saw one approaching I wanted to attack it. It was all I could do to cope. Other dogs stressed me out, especially if I heard them playing or play fighting, my fight mode kicked in and I became defensive, this was my survival mechanism for a long time. I couldn’t be trusted around other dogs and I did attack once.

My body language was always the same, I drooled a lot, and my tail was always tucked right under in between my legs. I never exposed my belly for tummy-rubs; my body language was always defensive and withdrawn. If anyone came near me I sat down so my rear end was protected and I hung my head down really low. I never looked anyone in the eye and I turned my head away from everything, this is known as avoidance. I panted and yawned a lot, it helped with the stress.

At my new home I spent most of the time sleeping, licking my fur, drooling and growling in my sleep. At night when I woke up I didn’t feel secure and I did wee and poo on the floor almost every night. I ripped my blankets to pieces with my teeth, and spent hours just standing with my head hanging down low. I was very scared, I ran from traffic, I didn’t like loud noises, especially banging metal noises. One day a man came round and he made some banging noises which reminded me of the noise from the kennels and so I got scared and I bit him. After I did it I ran away. My new owner had been watching and learning everything about me and started taking me to new places but making sure that no one came too close to me.

One day I got to meet another dog, a goldador bitch, I didn’t like her because she was really bouncy and it made me anxious. I didn’t have the strength to play with her. I was thinking about biting her to make her go away, but my owner jumped in and called me and took me away. I was learning not to bite. It felt better not to bite.

Outside the coffee shop and in the high street I was anxious and I just wanted my owner to stroke me, but she refused to touch me when I was in this state and so I started to look around. I began to notice things. I began to open up my senses. After a few weeks of going out I was getting more confident. I didn’t run away from traffic anymore and I was eating a new diet of raw food which was easier for me to chew and I eat ate all straight away.

One day in Epping Forest a pointer came running out of the woods and tried to attack me, I don’t like fighting and I was scared. My new owner chased the pointer away, she made feel safe, I was beginning to trust her to offer me protection.

I had a new routine, I knew what would be happening every day. I was walked 3 times a day, I got regular meals, I was not left alone for long and I had lots of safe experiences of meeting dogs and people and when I felt it is too much for me my owner always read my mind and took me to a safe place.

After 6 months I put on 10kg. I stopped licking myself and my fur grew back. I still had the odd nightmare where I growled in my sleep but not as much as before. When the doorbell went I woke up and listened. I still didn’t go to the door and I hadn’t barked yet. For the first time I rolled over on my back and exposed my belly in my sleep.

After 9 months I barked when the doorbell went. My owner praised me, she was happy to see me behaving like a normal Doberman. I love my walks now and I am happy to see other dogs, I have made some new friends and I love sniffing and looking about the forest. I go for a big run but I always go back to my owner. When I see people I want to say hello to them all, I like people now. I don’t ever jump up and I am very gentle with children.

Sometimes I hear a noise that reminds me of the kennels and I get very anxious, my owner knows what I am thinking and she distracts me so I forget about it. I feel very safe with her and I know she will always protect me.

Now, I have life in my eyes, I smile, I never tuck my tail under, maybe if a stranger bends over me but mostly I wag my tail and I look people in the eye and I have a happy face. I spin around when it is time to go for a walk and I have happy dreams now, instead of growling in my sleep I make a yip yip noise and I wag my tail! It has taken a year but I am now truly settled and I am a very happy boy. My owner uses me as her stooge dog to help other dogs that have aggression. I just ignore them and they accept me and eventually calm down, this helps especially those that are scared of big dogs.

To this day my owner still praises me for simple things like eating my dinner, wagging my tail and rolling on my back for tummy rubs. It has helped build my confidence and trust in people.

This is me with the Goldador that I couln’t handle, we are good friends now, and the little dog sleeps in my belly at night.