Rio's Foster Update

“Rio has been with us a week now and has settled in nicely. He still remains 100% clean in the house and non-destructive, which is remarkable considering the upheaval he has had over the past few weeks with multiple moves. He feels a lot more comfortable now and will roam the house freely, whereas before he was always keen to keep us in his sights; probably through fear of being left. Rio is incredibly chilled out for a Staffie and is very settled throughout the night. He’s very good at letting us know when he wants to go and do his business too. One of his little quirks is his love of being nosey and his inquisitiveness. He will sit for ages and look out of the patio doors into the garden, watching the trees swaying in the wind and absorbing every sound. My neighbours both have yappy dogs that will bark at the fence but Rio doesn’t bat an eye lid. Instead he will continue his thorough investigation of every leaf and blade of grass! Another one of Rio’s quirks is his apparent dislike of dog biscuits…yet he will wait until I have swept the floor and retrieve a discarded one from the pile of dust! He is responding well to commands and has learned ‘wait’ when I give him his dinner. I have begun to teach him some sign language and he will now respond to ‘sit’ and ‘down’ with a hand command and we are now working on ‘wait’. It’s always useful for when dogs get older if their hearing starts to diminish. There has been a huge improvement when walking him, although he does sometimes get excited when you pick his lead and harness up. This is just his eagerness to go outdoors and instantly settles once we leave. He doesn’t pull a great deal and my children can easily manage him on the lead. Rio’s inquisitive nature means he likes to stop and have a sniff every now and again, but with a quick ‘walk on’, he toddles on his way. He is still very vocal when he sees other dogs but his body language doesn’t seem to indicate aggression. I am obviously reluctant to investigate this as yet as he needs more outdoor exposure on a lead as I don’t feel that this is something he has been used to. I am conscious of the fact that he has been in a pound and a kennel, both of which are noisy environments, so his vocal reaction could also be fear related. It didn’t take him long to learn where he lives and he leads us straight to our house! Once his walk is over, he has a drink, followed by a snooze. I really don’t have a bad word to say about this beautiful boy. I expected a lot of teething problems, but we haven’t had any and he is the perfect house guest. He greets all of our visitors with a wagging tail and big smile and loves to play with my three year old nephew. He will drop his ball at his feet and wait for it to be thrown without trying to snatch it. He takes treats so gently too. Even his ‘botty burps’ are few and far between, which can never be sniffed at (pardon the pun). What ever happened in his past, I am confident that he was loved and this shows in his nature. I don’t class him as an ‘old’ dog; he is as spritely as pup and certainly displays no health conditions, age related or otherwise”.

Since then, he has come on in leaps and bounds with his training. He only needs to be told ‘wait’ once when I put his food down and will give me his paw before tucking in. He now takes treats so gently, it’s adorable. If he is in the garden, I will whistle once and he knows that’s his cue to come in. He still lets us know when he needs a wee, but I often check by just saying ‘do you want to go out?’ and if he does, he will run to the back door. He is fantastic at night time and settles down as soon as we do. He loves nothing more than to sprawl out in bed with my son, Joseph, and he even has his own pillow, although he still pinches Joe’s!

He is improving when he goes for a walk but he still continues to bark at other dogs when he sees them. We tackle this by going in a different direction and he quietens down when they are out of sight. He is much better to handle on a lead once the initial excitement of leaving the house wears off. It doesn’t take him long to settle and will happily walk without pulling. He loves going for a run and he can certainly shift for an 8 year old! He even has a posh new flashing collar that he wears at night time so he can be easily seen J One of his favourite things to do when he is out is to rub himself on every bush we pass!

I took him out for the first time in the car the other day when he went to meet the vet. He was as good as gold! He sat in the front foot well all the way there and back. This really surprised me because he is nosey by nature so I expected him to dive all over to try and peek out of the window. He tried to jump on to Joe’s lap, but he only needed to be told to ‘sit’ once and he did! I was so proud of him. Even in the vets, he was no bother at all. Again, this was unexpected because I thought all the new smells, sights and people would over-stimulate him, but nope, he was a superstar! The vet fell in love with him too, but Rio does have that effect on everyone he meets.

I’m really lucky that I have a wonderful, supportive family and my role as a fosterer isn’t limited to my immediate household. My brother in law comes over two or three nights a week to take Rio for a walk. My sister and three year old nephew also adore Rio and love to play ball with him. Rio loves tennis balls and he loves to chase them even more, even if he is like Bambi on ice on the wood flooring! My dad loves to make a fuss of him too but I had to chuckle when my mum introduced herself, saying ‘hello Rio, I’m your new Grandma’ J Having three teenagers, my house can be like Piccadilly station at times but this doesn’t phase Rio at all. He always greets people like he’s known them for years and takes advantage of the extra stokes and cuddles.

I knew when I took Rio in that he wouldn’t be as fortunate as the other dogs that are re-homed quickly. It broke my heart to think of him struggling in kennels at his age and I often wonder why he found himself out on the streets, all alone. All I can say is that his previous owner’s loss is most certainly our gain, albeit temporary. I love the bones of him. It’s such a shame that older dogs often get looked over in rescues. Rio is living proof that age is just a number and he would give any younger dog a run for their money! He is the perfect house guest, he needed minimal training and he has bags of love to give. We couldn’t have asked for a better first foster dog. Filling in that application form was the best decision I could have made. My floors are covered in muddy paw prints again, the nose art is back on my patio doors and going to the toilet is no longer lonely. I wouldn’t have it any other way <3