'Our Bosnian Simon arrived just seven months ago, and the night we collected him from Cobham Service Station the man who arrived in the van with all the dogs in (we were the only people from WAHF, the others were from different charities) pulled open the door of the van at the side where all the cages were. It was obvious that he was a man of very little words – he spoke to none of us, except to say one thing. He pointed at Simon and said “this nice dog”. I think that about sums Simon up! We knew he had had one ear cut off, poor chap, and we had seen a wonderful video of him that Alicia had kindly sent back from Bosnia. He is aged somewhere between 5 and 7, I don’t think he’s ever been up any stairs before, but the most wonderful surprise was that he was completely house-trained.
He has been a total joy, he is sweet and incredibly gentle. It took us a couple of days to realise that he is very deaf, and on Dave the wonderful WAHF behaviourist’s advice we got him properly tested with the BAER test – it turned out that he can hear virtually nothing and if he does hear something he doesn’t know where the sound is coming from. So if you shout loud enough he looks up with interest at the ceiling etc! Also we realised he has very poor sight, our vet says no peripheral vision – he can just see straight ahead. These things make him even more endearing and fill us with admiration that he can be so laid back and trusting when goodness knows what has happened to him.
WAHF were wonderful – the joy of knowing before he arrived that he was good with other dogs and with children was brilliant, and indeed he is – he doesn’t have an aggressive bone in his body (unless you’re a squirrel). They are so supportive, the beginning few weeks can be a bit daunting, and I do feel that a rescue dog needs time and patience to get used to the new life. Also, I was very pleased to have known that it takes at least 72 hours for the stress to leave them after their long journey over here, and it’s quite normal for them to take a bit of time.
He is a Bosnian Scent Hound (we did our research and he is a “Barak”) and he is incredibly driven by the scent of squirrels, cats, foxes etc. He literally bays when he has found one! The upshot of this is that sadly we cannot let him off the lead, because he would race after something and then not hear us or see us to come back to. This can be challenging as he is pretty chunky and can almost pull me off my feet, but the Halti Harness (not collar) changed everything, so that he pulls from his front chest not back neck. We make his life as free as possible by putting him on a very long lead and letting him “choose the route” when it’s safe to do so. Also, there are 2 large “dog-proof” meadows near us where he can be let off the lead. So – my feeling is you try and change/train the things you can and then you work with what you’ve got and can’t change.
We just adore him, and he is much loved on the Common where we walk- he would be the most wonderful role model for a puppy, so that is probably in the offing! It’s extremely rewarding to see him pottering around with his tail wagging, when he must have spent so much time on the street, hungry and lost. Of all the dogs we’ve ever had, he is the most easy-going and gentle – the Man in the Van was right! And thank you WAHF, for this gorgeous boy.'
- Elizabeth Cane