With a little help from your friends... How a new squad of hero dogs are helping their canine friends overcome fears

“It’s so far beyond imagination to get a dog who is so in tune with everybody and everything in the way that Piglet is,” said Animal Welfare Assistant Ellen Myring.

The caring Staffordshire bull terrier cross spent a little over a month at our Kimpton rehoming centre earlier this year and in that time – despite her own troubled past – helped 15 other dogs overcome their fears surrounding their own kind.

Her support was so outstanding – and unique – that she has now been made one of the first Blue Cross Ambassador Dogs, meaning she will go on to help many more dogs in our care.

It was clear stray staffie Piglet was special from the moment she arrived at Blue Cross

The Ambassador Dog initiative is believed to be the first of its kind in the country, and gives canine support to dogs that are either unsure of their own species due to not socialising or afraid of people because of a lack of human kindness or interaction.

Stray dog Piglet’s past is a mystery, but within days of arriving at Blue Cross it was clear she was special.

“We could see she was affectionate and had a calming influence on everybody around her, as well as being fantastic within a kennel environment,” said Ellen.

So our team started socialising her with more timid dogs, as well as turning to her for help with assessments for new dogs coming into the centre to check how they reacted to canine company.

“She helped bring the dogs that weren’t so confident around other dogs out of their shells. She has an understanding of her own kind that is incredibly rare – she can read other dogs and appropriate her behaviour for them,” continued Ellen

She helped bring the dogs that weren’t so confident around other dogs out of their shells. She has an understanding of her own kind that is incredibly rare – she can read other dogs and appropriate her behaviour for them." Ellen Myring, Animal Welfare Assistant at Kimpton

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“Her greeting was so specific to each dog – it was amazing.

“Sometimes she would launch straight into play if she knew a dog was happy, but when she sensed a dog was more nervous she would just lie on the floor perfectly still and wait for the dog to approach her.

"She reads situations so beautifully that she was able to bring her calming vibes to these worried dogs, broadening their horizons in terms of what type of home they could go to.”

One of those pets was stray Jack, a six-month-old dachshund cross, who was worried about everything, including other dogs.

But with Piglet’s help, he learnt to be in the company of his own kind for the first time – and even went on to be rehomed with another dog.

“Piglet warmed to him instantly. Although Jack didn't quite understand how to ‘play bow’ and to initiate polite chase games, Piglet showed him calmly every step of the way - we feel as if she had a very good sense of humour about it all!

“She showed him how to chase, to be chased, to give little kisses and even a cheeky bit of gentle Staffie play. She was so gentle and charming with her every move and Jack became so much more confident, it's opened his eyes to the world.”

Like Jack, Piglet is now in a happy new home with her adoring owners Alexandra Duffy and partner Rob King. She is also overcoming her own problems with separation anxiety.

Piglet is now in a loving home with Alexandra Duffy and Rob King, but will regularly visit the Kimpton rehoming centre to help other dogs.

Alex said: “The best thing about having Piglet is cuddles! She always wants to be on your lap or as close as she can to you. She's very soppy and loves to say hello to everyone we walk past (especially if they have a shopping bag!).

“She loves to play with other dogs and even if they're aggressive towards her she'll never show any aggression back.

“We get lots of comments about how well she responds to us but she's come such a long way since we got her. The first two weeks were hard work as she was completely deaf due to an ear infection, majorly suffering from separation anxiety and needed to be taught a few lessons about how to behave in a house. But our hard work paid off and she's now really settled in and makes a lovely addition to the family!”


Building the confidence of an ex racer

Our Ambassador Dogs are not only helping their four-legged friends get used to their own kind, they’re also helping them get used to people and new experiences.

When greyhound Gabby came into our care, all she had known was living in kennels with others of her breed.

So not only did she need our help to find a home, she needed to learn how to adjust to life as a pet.

Thanks to Wally's help, Gabby (pictured) is now happily settled into a loving home.

Gabby was nervous, but another greyhound called Wally (pictured below) helped to build her confidence.

Sociable chap Wally soon found a wonderful home, but he returned to the rehoming centre with his new owner to encourage Gabby to come out of her shell.

Soon, Gabby was confident enough to try out a foster home with another greyhound, Pedro. Her foster carer couldn’t let her go, and Gabby now lives happily with pal Pedro.

— Page last updated 10/11/2016