Fergus is an 18-month-old English Springer Spaniel, and is the family's second springer who, we have to admit, was hoped would fill the void that Jasper had left when he died 2 years ago.
The family doted on old Jasper and were devastated when he had to be put to sleep at the ripe old age of 131/2. We waited some 6 months after Jasper to get Fergus, hoping that he would be able to give us the love and devotion that we had received before.
Fergus however proved to be a different kettle of fish!
Jasper was totally devoted to the family, he was very dependable, and completely bombproof and trustworthy
Fergus on the other hand turned out to be of a nervous disposition, unsure in certain situations, impossible to groom, exceedingly sensitive but at the same time was prone to displaying aggressive tendencies. His unstable character became particularly evident when we looked after my mother in laws' parrot who is extremely loud.
Over the course of 6 weeks Fergus transformed into a nervous wreck who, one minute was aggressive toward the family and the next minute reclusive and hiding under beds.
Because of the extreme character transformation, our natural instinct was to suspect a medical problem. After taking Fergus to the vets, who gave him a clean bill of health, and removing the parrot from our house, we were advised to contact Mike. I gave him a general overview of the situation and explained that as a family, (2 young children), we needed some advice on how to get Fergus to be a more acceptable member of the family group. We were totalyy devastated that the only alternatives were re-homing or perhaps worse!
After our initial conversation, Mike came to our home when the whole family were together. He talked with us and observed our interaction with Fergus. Fergus could not be described as a normal dog. Unlike most dogs he is not food orientated and therefore chocolate drops do nothing for him as an incentive.
Mike observed us for the afternoon and in that time offered advice onhow best to interact with Fergus, when and how to feed him, how to reward him and how to encourage, train and play with him.
Although Fergus will never be Jasper, we feel that he has made significant steps in the right direction. He is beginning to understand his position in the family unit, he is becoming easier to train using the appropriate methods. He is also becoming more loving towards the family as he now feels confident with our approach towards him (no longer smothering). He is also listening to us when our on walks and is displaying a lot more common sense (bearing in mind that he is a Springer!).
In conclusion, Mike has educated our family on how to treat Fergus as a dog and a part of the family. We had originally hoped that Fergus would be just like Jasper but soon learned that he is a totally different, yet equally loving dog, with different needs.
With Mike's help we have started to enjoy him for the dog he is rather than the dog we had tried to replace. Fergus gives as much joy as any dog as long as you understand just how he works.