Lancashire Heeler Flaxley

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Flaxley's Story by Jess Flanagan (Trapsyke Lancashire Heelers)Lancashire Heeler Flaxley

This is Flaxley, I got him from Enid Lord at breed rescue in 2003 age 2 yrs.

After having moved into a house from my flat, the time was ripe for me to have another heeler, as Jake (rescue 1997) and Loki lived with my parents, and I had been suffering heeler withdrawal symptoms since moving 200 miles away for college!

I phoned Enid (mainly to join the breed club as I was looking out for a heeler) and on the off chance (not expecting there to be dogs waiting) I asked if there were any dogs in rescue that may be suitable.  To my surprise, there were two brothers, who had come in together, and not much was known about their previous situation, apart from they weren't house trained and they kept running away.  Enid agreed then and there that I could have 'the big one' (as my family already had a rescue and she remembered our Jake) and we made arrangements for collection.

On July 18th, Enid was attending a dog show at Malvern, just 20 miles from where I live, and where my husband hails from, so I took delivery of my lovely boy from her caravan.  It transpired that Enid hadn't brought 'the big one', as when he found his feet in kennels, he started to be a little 'off' with the other dogs. 'The big one' was beginning to show signs of aggression, and as I already had a year old and bouncy Doberman X GSD Enid thought it best that she brought 'the little one' for me to look at and what can I say? on my part, it was love at first sight!

Flaxley (as we renamed him) was so scared we didn't really get to see him properly, his tail and ears were pinned as low as they could go, but that didn't put me off, I bundled him into the back of my little car with Kulu, and off we went. On arrival at home, Flaxley dashed under the coffee table and hid, and for the first few weeks this was the normal state of affairs.  Flaxley would come out for food, but if any 'training words' were used in his vicinity (come, sit, stay, etc.) he would ram himself harder in the corner, on his back, with the whites of his eyes showing, and his tail rammed under his belly, and if one approached him he would just panic and bite.  We learned to use a slip lead to gently encourage him out, and once out, we could swap it for his collar and take him for walkies, which was also quite an adjustment as we live in town and initially he would cower if any form of traffic went past- and bus 'air brakes' sent him into major panic mode!

The breakthrough came a couple of weeks after we had got Flaxley.  Up to this point, we had rarely seen his tail as it spent most of it's time tucked under.  I was out in the garden, enjoying my chickens and the sun, (and Flaxley was eyeing up my pet rabbit through the fence), when Kulu discovered a tennis ball that had come over from next door.Lancashire Heeler Flaxley, a true member of the Flanagan familyWe never played with tennis balls, as they last roughly 2 minutes (first they get squashed until they crack, and then the fluff gets peeled) so I took it off Kulu.  Flaxley spotted this and tore his gaze from the bunny, so I feigned throwing the ball, at this, Flaxley shot over to me, tail up and wagging and started gruffing at me to throw it!  I gave Kulu her Kong (which she rarely puts down, so she wouldn't pinch the tennis ball) and had a wonderful happy game of fetch with a completely new Flaxley, who would step away from the ball in anticipation as I approached, while barking excitedly, and allow me to pick it up and he'd chase with gusto when it was thrown!

From that point on Flaxley gradually gained in confidence, with lots of effort put into rehabilitation.  It took trips into town to experience crowds and people and walking along the pavements on the main routes to learn that traffic was no threat.  Agility training really helped too, and we gave him experience (wearing a basket muzzle) around calm and sensible children (normally at agility shows), who could post food through the side of the muzzle, into his mouth.  I have to say though, the most incredible steps in his rehab came after I watched (and understood- a lot of) 'the dog whisperer' and found my calm assertive side, began living in the moment and stopped dwelling on the past!  After all, all of the 'fear issues' he had, were probably not from being beaten as we imagined at the start (although I'm sure harsh training methods were employed), but more likely down to lack of socialisation.  Flaxley was born in 2001, which was foot and mouth year, and I've met lots of farm dogs on my post rounds who missed socialisation due to quarantine of farms and all of them exhibit similar behaviours to those of my boy.

Flaxley is now a confident and happy member of our family, we now have 2 more heelers too, Thistle and Pancake.check out the Trapsyke Lancashire Heeler Agility Album There are times when we have to be careful, as any rescue dog is 'a work in progress' for life, but for the most part he has forgotten any problems he once had.  Now since Dec 2010, Flaxley has been joined by a baby in the family, Little Eric is 2 months old at the time of writing this, and as you can see by the picture, Flaxley loves him.  I know that once Eric starts toddling we are going to have to be very careful, as Flaxley still may nip if fallen on or roughly poked (who could blame him?).  As soon as Eric begins to understand stuff properly, we will be disciplining and training him to be around dogs, so no dog ever has to 'discipline' him using their teeth.

Jess Flanagan