Big Ben was a big, handsome, black and red coated boy who’d lost his way. In his first home, he’d never received training or guidance. As a result, his sweet disposition, his polite nature, and his excellent obedience skills became overshadowed by his resource-guarding behavior. Without guidance, he became aggressive, guarding his people, his food, and his territory in general. And because of his size and power, Ben could be dangerous and unpredictable. When I asked him why he was aggressive, he said that he was worried about things getting out of control. He was simply trying to establish order and structure.
When he came to rescue, we paired him with a trainer and reinforced his training with a team consisting of our most savvy volunteers. In time, he settled into a more peaceful routine. But his past was imbedded in his character, and Ben would need a home with structure, gentle but constant guidance, and strong yet compassionate leadership.
Ben was a stunning, commanding boy. He tipped the scales at 100 pounds and his long, luxurious coat made him seem even bigger and more imposing. He was with us for just a few months when he found his first home. But after eighteen months, divorce shattered his family. And Ben was returned to rescue. And we were back to square one. Ben’s training had been neglected. So we placed him in training again to rebuild the foundation we’d once built with him. And he needed a makeover. He’d gained twenty pounds while he was with his first family, so Big Ben was huge now.
Despite his aggression issues, Ben was loyal and devoted and generally great with people. And despite the lack of training in his previous home, he had retained his knowledge of basic commands like sit, stay, down, up, and shake. All we needed to do was tune him up and look for a savvy and communicative home. Why? Ben was a talker. He loved to express his point of view via his vocal stylings!
After a one-year wait, Ben found a family. A husband and wife team came to meet Ben with their five-year-old GSD Baron in tow. They were smart, savvy people undeterred by Ben’s size and challenges. Baron was huge, big-boned, and also coated; he could have been Ben’s twin. Now Ben had a family and a brother.
Sometimes when we have a dog like Ben, we wonder: will we ever find him or her the right home? Will we ever find a match? But we have faith that there’s someone out there for everyone. There’s someone looking for this dog. There’s someone willing to take on even the most challenging dogs. And it happens. The right family steps up. It’s all about timing. And when it happens, it is wonderful and inspiring.
Ben now has a home where he knows exactly what to do. His boundaries are clear. He is lovingly guided and accepted. His mistakes are seen just as that, just mistakes that are correctable. His humans are committed to giving Ben the best life possible. They pay attention to everything and let Ben know he is home…finally he was really home.