Porkie, affectionately known as Porcupine, was born in our Rehoming Centre on the 12th April 2016. His mum Penny, an incredibly sweet natured dog, gave birth shortly after arriving into our care.
Porkie was the largest of his litter and began showing some unusual behaviours from an early age.
From five weeks of age, Porkie was overly enthusiastic with his Canine Carers. He became easily frustrated and really struggled when his carers gave attention to his siblings. He became over-excitable and displayed harder mouthing than is typical for a pup.
At the time, our Training and Behaviour team drew up a plan to help Porkie with these behaviours. During his training sessions, Porkie would get overstimulated quickly and easily, and would become increasingly mouthy as his frustration levels grew. He did, however, begin to respond well to his regular training sessions which were kept short. He was given his own kennel, with time set aside to introduce him to suitable, older dogs. He was also taught an “auto-sit”, which involved teaching him to sit for access to resources such as food, toys and attention. To this day Porkie will give you a lovely sit, even when excited!
As time passed, Porkie was overlooked in favour of quieter, less boisterous dogs and as a dog born in a kennel environment, Porkie needed a very specific home, as he had no prior experience of home living! Everyday things that we often take for granted such as a bed being made, or the dishwasher being emptied were all foreign concepts to him. On top of all that, we were dealing with a dog who became quickly frustrated and overwhelmed with anything new or exciting, so the introduction of everyday items and events needed to be done in a careful manner.
So, what type of home he was looking for?
A home with people who were willing to get to know Porkie at his own pace and put in both time and effort in understanding his many quirks (and how to deal with them). They would need to visit him multiple times to build a strong bond. They would also need to be understanding of the fact that Porkie had never lived in a home before and that every day may be a new experience for him while he settled in. They needed to live in a relatively quiet area, with no children that Porkie could bowl over with his enthusiasm for life!
There was also potential that Porkie would need to follow his Dogs Trust routine in his new home initially and then gradually transition into his new home life. As much as we provide our dogs with the highest possible standard of welfare, thanks to our amazing supporters, it will never compare to a home where attention, food and play are more readily available (and as we all knew, these were three resources Porkie struggled with in small amounts!).
With such specific requirements it was no easy task to find Porkie’s paw-fect family.
Then…..on the 27th October 2019, Brian and Regina arrived through our doors!
Originally, they were looking for a foster dog as they had a holiday planned for the new year and they did want this to upset a new dog. However, after their visit to our Rehoming Centre, they decided they wanted to adopt a dog who would take time to get to know and they hoped to bring their dog home in early 2020.
Our Rehoming team told them about a few dogs, in particular, Porkie and his quirks and asked them to reserve judgement until they met him. Porkie is a stunningly beautiful dog and his silly, funny and good nature make it very hard not to love him unconditionally and fall in love with him Brian and Regina did!
Porkie’s adoption was no small feat, Brian and Regina visited the centre 35 times before adopting Porkie in March 2020! At the beginning, interactions were short and hands off. Brian and Regina gradually built up to some more handling and became more inclusive in Porkie’s meetings. He needed to meet his new family both in the centre and in his new home.
Over a five-month period, Porkie’s family learned how to harness him up, and put his muzzle on, how to manage him on walks and what body language to look out for if Porkie was beginning to struggle or get overexcited.
While Porkie continued to meet with his family regularly through the rehoming process, his Canine Carers were hard at work behind the scenes preparing him for the move to his Forever Home. They quickly realized that there were LOTS of everyday events and household items that Porkie had never experienced.
He wasn’t used to a toilet flushing, food being prepared (that wasn’t for him), watching a bed being changed, walking up a flight of stairs, hearing a kettle boil or seeing a tv switched on (amongst many other things).
His Carers gathered together a list of all he needed to learn, and with the help of one of the Training and Behaviour team, “Project Porkie” was devised.
Project Porkie involved a small number of Porkie’s favourite people who were dedicated to helping him prepare for his new home, on top of his regular care. As part of this project, Porkie would learn how to tackle everyday activities, be exposed to new household items/sounds/smells in a controlled manner, and his routine would become a lot more varied to ensure he could cope a little better with changes in the home.
Porkie took his new routine quickly and began to thrive! He was no longer a dog people would move out of the way of (for fear of being bowled over by his exuberant greeting style) but a dog all staff were happy to see coming, and to greet.
Many afternoons were spent walking up and down our centre stairs trying to get Porkie to take them one step at a time. Some of our team live on site and generously offered their homes to help Porkie become more acquainted with different stairs and a home environment.
The team also asked him to sit where the dogs’ meals are prepared while they washed up all the empty food bowls at the end of the day. Over time, Porkie transformed from a boisterous bull in a china shop, to a dog who could sit patiently and observe the world go by!
The Porkie who went to his Forever Home recently was a changed gentleman to the one who began his his life in our busy Rehoming Centre. He can now greet people when out and about, get excited about life but compose himself again, walk up staircases (at a reasonable pace), get cuddles and even potter about by himself without getting overwhelmed by it all.
He still has some of his quirks, he loves to smell duvets, he still doesn’t enjoy walking in the rain, and no doubt he still has lots of learning to do, but we are all proud as punch of our boy and we couldn’t be more grateful to his amazing adopters Brian and Regina who gave so much of their time to give Porkie the happily ever after that we knew one day he would have!
Of course, none of this would be possible without the people who support our work and generously donate so we can care for dogs like Porkie who need extra rehabilitation and who may be with us for an extended time. It’s thanks to them that we are confident we will find a home for every dog in our Rehoming Centre no matter how long it takes, because the perfect home is out there for every dog!