Bonza The Wonderdog

That was the nickname we gave the 19 week old puppy we got from a breeder we found online after we vowed never to get a dog again. It was a decision my husband and I made 7 years ago because we don’t ever want to pick up another dog pooh!

It all changed when our daughter with Asperger’s Syndrome turned 8. She was increasingly becoming more anxious and isolated herself more. We were advised that a pet will assist in this regard. Bonza, a Chocolate Labrador was purchased in the hopes of helping our daughter. Both her paediatrician and Early Intervention Therapists had been telling us of other children on the Autism Spectrum who had become more settled and had improved social skills when the parent’s had introduced a dog to the family.

So we did some Googling on dog temperaments and decided that a Labrador would suit our lifestyle. We found a breeder online, specializing in Chocolate Labs with puppies ready to go. After contacting him we were told that there was one male left. He had been sold but was returned after the buyer had a car accident and was now unable to care for the dog. The breeder advised that he was 19 weeks old, toilet trained, walked well on lead, well socialized and the price had been reduced. He also advised that he already had a name that he recognised, Bonza.

As the breeder was some distance away we agreed to meet halfway and pick up our beautiful new boy. With hindsight this was a rookie mistake. The exchange of Pup and money was rushed, and before we knew it, we were the new owners of Bonza, and the breeder was gone. No paperwork was given, and Bonza didn’t even have a collar nor a lead.

Bonza was trouble from the start. He was terrible on lead, extremely reactive, destructive and definitely not toilet trained as he would only toilet on concrete. He was terrified of brooms and hoses. He began to bite us and we did not feel safe leaving him and the kids unsupervised. After about 6 weeks we were at our wits end and called Kyra.

She was extremely helpful and patient. She explained to us that his behaviour was consistent with poor breeding perhaps even a puppy farm. With her help we almost had Bonza settled, he was almost perfect!

When he was about 9 months old we noticed he was less enthusiastic to walk and would appear tired after a short amount of time. He was spending a lot of time sitting on our pond. Then one day, he refused get in or out of the car. Then, he refused to go up or down stairs. We called Kyra once again. She noticed one of his back legs was bowed and suggested we see a Vet. After a few weeks of pain medication, x-rays and ultrasounds that were sent away to a specialist in Brisbane, we were given a diagnosis of hip dysplasia.

As Bonza was still under 12m old we were told surgery would not be an option until he had finished growing, about 18 months to 2 years of age. We were told we could continue with the pain medication until then. Unfortunately, that was well out our budget. We had to make the heartbreaking decision to have our beautiful boy put to sleep. We were all gutted. He was only 11 months old.

Kyra supported us the whole way and which made the whole experience a positive one for the whole family. We are forever thankful to Kyra.

If you are thinking about getting a pet, please take your time and choose the breeder very carefully. A good breeder always provides documentation about their dogs and is happy to support you during the first few weeks of your pup setting in. Do your research on your chosen breed and get to know your breeder on a personal level before committing to anything. Remember, a dog can live 10 -13 years on average so choose wisely.

Posted in Dog Stories

Hazel’s Story


Her head was like a bank with a very large ‘fear account’

Hazel is a beautiful young dog that has had changes in her life and has had a few scares.

When I first met her she was highly reactive to so many things –the front door, strangers in and out of the house, loud noises, other dogs just to name a few.

As I explained to Hazel’s owners – a dog’s brain is like a bank. Their fears continue to be deposited in their head until they end up with a ‘large fear account’. Once the fears are addressed or the dog desensitised to them – there are then withdrawals happening from the fear account which makes way for contentment and enjoyment of life .

None of Hazel’s fears had been addressed – she was kept away from any place that may have potential stressors or triggers.

Mia, Harry and I set about training Hazel in walking on the lead correctly – which she now does very well – on just a collar and lead. We have also desensitised her to knocks on the door – first by getting her to relate strangers with good things and then using a knock on the door to become her cue to station on her bed.

She is now being taken out to see the source of loud noises and is not reacting to neighbour noise or sightings. Just the other day she walked beautifully next to my dog and was very calm and relaxed.

Hazel is still a work in progress.After three training sessions with me and being lucky to have two humans who are dedicated to making her life less stressful and who are working consistently from Hazel’s training plan – Hazel is ‘almost there’.

If your dog is fearful and/or reactive – please don’t use band aid measures.

Get the help of an experienced, reputable professional trainer/behaviourist to empty that fear account and make your dogs life and yours peaceful again.

NOTE WELL – Do not ever engage a trainer who uses force in any way , shape or form.

Posted in Dog Stories

Rufio’s Story

The dog that no one wanted

Rufio – formerly Rupio was advertised on Gumtree. Prior to Sandra giving him a permanent home – he experienced three changes of homes in a one year period!

When I visited him for our first training session- he was confused, could not relax was anxious and had eyes that told of a story of not being understood.

From our first meeting, I knew that Sandra was the right person to become his human as she was committed to putting the work in to make him comfortable and confident that in his forever home.

His training has been gradual – letting him tell us when he is ready to progress to the next step. He has been taught general obedience at which he has excelled.

Rather than keeping him isolated and in a small enclosure – we have desensitised him to his immediate environment – until he is now very confident around his suburban house. He even loves the dog next door!

He has recently progressed to being taken to a local park where he was allowed to sniff around while being on a long line. He is now not reacting to cars, joggers, or people passing close by. He is learning that the world is really not full of monsters!

He has now met with my dog Chilli. His initial reaction to her were a few bluff barks over a short period of minutes –after which he settled very well and was walking right next to Chilli, even licking her face on occasions.

Note well – Chilli is a totally nonreactive dog – a trainers dog should NEVER be used in a physical or dominant way .

Rufio has endured intolerance and impatience in the last horrible year of his life. He has finally found – in Sandra – an owner that understands and is committed to making the rest of Rufio’s life happy and contented.

Rufio’s story is an example of my theory that ‘you only get out of your dog what you are willing to put into it’.

Posted in Dog Stories

Anya’s Story

Anya is a German Shepherd that has what is believed to be Pituitary Dwarfism.

She was bred by a breeder who has now taken herself off Facebook and who has denied that two of the pups in Anya’s litter are dwarfs. Some people are of the opinion that both dog and bitch in a mating that produces dwarfs should ethically be desexed.

She will not grow much bigger than a Cocker Spaniel and she is likely to have on going health problems.

Anya’s new owner -Fran is committed to keeping Anya for the rest of her possibly shortened life. She has and still is researching dwarfism in dogs and have altered her diet and have implemented extra minerals and treatments in her daily regime. After a couple of weeks of doing this- her fur has thickened and is growing and she is gaining weight.

Anya is attending a Basic obedience and life skills class. She is learning just as quickly as the other young dogs and her initial reactivity to other dogs has ceased.

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