t was time to get another dog, and
Bill, my other half, wanted an Airedale. In days gone by when he was a small boy
he had a push along dog on wheels which just happened to be an Airedale. My
daughter Katie and I just wanted a dog. Ever since I’ve known Bill he has always
said that the only dog he would ever have would be an Airedale, not that he knew
anything about owning one (or being owned by one).
Well, I began surfing the internet
for Airedale Terrier sites and came across Janet Huxley’s website. As soon as I
saw the pictures of the adorable puppies I fell in love with them
instantaneously, but I thought I’d better do some research on the breed. There
wasn’t much information on the various sites I visited (before I found Planet
Airedale) so I bought Janet Huxleys book ‘Pet Owners Guide to the Airedale
Terrier’ which gave me some very sound advice.
I emailed Janet, asking if she
knew of any breeders nearer to home, and she very helpfully put me in touch with
Lesley Lee. Luckily one of her dogs was due to have pups in 6 weeks. So the date
went into the calendar and we counted down the days, getting more excited with
every day that passed leading to the birth of the puppies.
I phoned Lesley two days after the
arrival of the pups, we wanted a bitch, and it just so happened there were six
bitches and two dogs in the litter. At four weeks we went to see them.
Katie said that they looked like Rottweiler puppies, they were so cute.
Lesley said we wouldn’t be able to choose one then as they all looked the same
and they would change so much in the next 4 weeks. When we went back at
eight weeks (to choose and collect our Candy) they were different sizes and
different shades. Candy was one of the larger ones and had a very dark
She was so good all the way home,
but unfortunately was sick in the last hundred yards (poor thing). When
she got home her cage was ready, bowls, blankets, toys etc, the perfect start
for what I thought would be the perfect dog for us.
At first, being small, the puppy
bites didn’t worry us too much, but by the end of the first week these bites
were getting very painful and the reprimanding didn’t work. Someone
suggested a tap on the nose, getting harder if the biting persisted, squirting
water, tins with stones in them, rolled up paper banged on the floor, but Candy
seemed to react quite aggressively towards this, - it seemed there was no
stopping what most people called mouthing. If anybody walked into the room
Candy would make a dive for their legs and then, if you put a toy down in the
way, it would be their arms.
Candy wouldn’t accept any petting,
in fact the only place you could touch her was on her tummy when she was half
asleep, but even then she would get a bit of a wild look in her eyes and snap at
your hand. My arms and legs were bruised, scabby and sore all the time.
What were we doing wrong?
We’d paid all this money for what I thought would be the perfect dog, so it must
be us. I wasn’t very happy at this point and arranged for a dog
behaviourist to come and see what he thought. I won’t go into great detail
about this, some of his advice was very good, but the rest was bullying.
That night I heard Candy crying and so I went down to her, she wasn’t happy
either and she would not even look at me. What had we done to the poor
little thing? I picked her up to give her cuddle and she seemed to liven
up, and then bit me, but at least she was happy again.
I was getting worried about my
daughter by this time; she would come in from school and disappear into the
lounge not spending any time with me or Candy. It was about this point where I
really had second thoughts about keeping Candy. I felt I was failing Katie
and failing Candy, I cried several times a day.
We were doing all the right
things, feeding us first, not leaving food down too long, always going through
the doors first. The training was working very well, she is a very
intelligent dog, so why all the biting? Well, as the weeks went by I
managed, at this stage, to pet Candy on her back, and so I kept that up for as
long as I could get away with, but the head was still out of bounds. In
the summer I used to spend a lot of time in the garden with Candy, we’d play,
she’d sleep, I would read a book and then we’d play some more. Things were
slowly getting better. Then came her first season - wow what a change!
She became a gentle, loving, soppy dog. Her temperament improves every
The biting has now turned into
mouthing with endless pleas "be gentle Candy, no bites" but now her sense of
humour shines through in everything she does. When we took Candy into our
home we took her into our family. It has not been easy but by being
consistent gentle and patient, she has finally matured into a really nice
Airedale. Candy is and always will be a dominant dog and constantly needs
reminding who’s boss, but we love her to bits.
I think, with Candy, we had to
earn her respect and love and it took what I thought was a long time, but now
we’ve got over that hurdle. I know I’d go through all of that again as
hindsight is a wonderful thing.