And so, after nine days in intensive care, Rocky left the hospital and travelled to our Hertfordshire rehoming centre.
“Our job was to start Rocky’s education,” explains Sarah Miller, Animal Welfare Assistant, who began Rocky’s training. “Because of his illness he was starting his training a bit later than he should have done and we noticed he was very mouthy, which is a sign he was probably taken away from his mum too early. We introduced him to lots of new experiences including going in the car, meeting dogs, and listening to household sounds.
“We also made sure he had lots of time to play, run around like a mad thing and sleep, and of course lots of cuddles!”
Bringing up baby
Learning how to cope with being around people and other animals, and about reacting to different environments and situations, is a process called ‘socialisation’. It sets a puppy up for life as a family dog, and should be started at around three weeks.
Rocky’s breeder didn’t do this, and because he was at death’s door in our hospital, we were unable to start the process as early as we would have done with a healthy homeless puppy.
A puppy who lacks experience with the world will find many things that we take for granted scary and is very likely to grow up to be a worried dog, so Sarah and her colleagues were keen to begin socialisation with Rocky as soon as they could.
Tracy and her family have continued this process with Rocky in his new home.
One sure-fire way of getting Rocky some experience of a home was to put him in one. So on Christmas Eve, our Volunteer Foster Carer, Becky Andrews, picked Rocky up and took him home to enjoy the festivities with her family – and he even enjoyed a little turkey dinner and the customary afternoon snooze.
Becky says: “Rocky truly was the best Christmas present I got. He had such a fuss made over him due to the circumstances of him coming to us. I had family over and they all fell in love with him. We put a little red ribbon round his neck on Christmas Day.
“Rocky was the fourth dog I had as a foster, so I had already been through them going into loving homes. Although it’s sad to see them go as you do get very attached, but knowing that Blue Cross does appropriate checks does make it easier to let them go. In some cases a puppy really is just for Christmas.”
One month after Rocky came through our doors, weak and ever so poorly, he left us to become part of the Meadows family.