Dog dumped at bus stop learns to trust again
It's been a long road to recovery, but this Christmas Steve's finally found his happy ever after. After many months of vet treatment and behaviour work, he's enjoying life with his forever family.
Steve is a happy, healthy lurcher who loves lounging on sofas, sleeps in the bedroom with owners Suzi and Graham and laps up fuss and attention.
"He's the most loving dog," said Suzi, from Purley, South London. "He's full of energy and likes plenty of walks. We still need to work on his recall, although now he does at least look when we call him ¿ so we're getting there! But he's such a gorgeous boy, we're happy to take it slowly and do whatever he needs."
Last winter the young lurcher, then aged between one and two, was found abandoned in Canterbury, Kent, on a cold, dark night. He'd been tied to a lamp post at a bus stop, clearly in pain with what turned out to be a badly broken right leg.
Alerted by a member of the public, Dogs Trust collected the terrified dog and took him to a vet, who called us and an inspector transferred Steve to RSPCA Finsbury Park Animal Hospital for emergency treatment.
Senior vet Áine Maguire said: "Poor Steve was cowering and terrified when he arrived. He didn't want to be handled and definitely didn't want any needles near him. X-rays revealed a complete fracture of the long bones of his right foreleg (radius and ulna). I could tell by how he flinched and snarled how much pain he must be in. Time was of the essence if we wanted to avoid having to amputate his leg."
Thankfully emergency surgery, including two metal plates and a bone graft from Steve's shoulder, fixed the break. He stayed in recovery at Finsbury Park for a month before moving to Leybourne Animal Centre for expert rehabilitation and behavioural therapy, led by behaviour and welfare adviser Jacque Kaye.
Steve would retreat to the back of his kennel, growling, whenever someone came near. We knew he had deep emotional scars and we'd need to work with him for some time in order to get him ready for adoption.
Staff had to take things slowly with 'traumatised' Steve
"It's always difficult when a dog's been abandoned because there's no history," Jacque added. "We had no idea what Steve's life had been like or how his leg had been broken. He was very wary of people and we didn't know if he'd always been anxious, or whether it was because of what had happened. Why didn't someone take him to a vet? Every scenario is heartbreaking; this poor dog just hadn't been cared for."
With such a traumatised dog, the team knew to take things slowly. They worked patiently to grow his confidence with people, other animals, traffic, lead walking and playing ¿ all the experiences he'd missed out on as a puppy. It took many months, but the transformation was dramatic.
When he was put up for adoption in April there was a lot of interest, but staff knew he'd need a very special family. And that came in the form of retired couple Suzi and Graham.
"When I spotted Steve online I felt so sad for him," said Suzi. "I knew that we'd have the time and commitment to give him the right, loving home and continue his training."
After several visits to the centre and home visits, Jacque was happy Steve had met his match. In early July, he was ready to start his new life.
"We were all very attached to him and sad to say goodbye," says Jacque. "But we knew how much he'd grown in confidence and we were thrilled he'd gone to the perfect home."
And Steve couldn't have settled better into his new life.
"He loves cuddles and toys," said Suzi. "It's like the puppyhood he missed out on is coming out. We're grateful to everyone at the RSPCA who's been involved in turning Steve's life around.
"It's really rewarding to adopt a dog who needs this kind of care. We couldn't be happier ¿ and there will be plenty of new toys under the tree for him this Christmas!"
- To Join the Christmas Rescue and help our rescuers be there for more animals like Steve this winter, please make a donation online.