We’d promised to bring you an uplifting story this week. One that also strongly advocates awareness and education if you are planning to welcome a dog into your life or already have one, especially an anxious one. If anything, our today’s human + dog story is of patience, faith, love and resilience, as five bite incidents later Gucho, Tisha’s rescued canine companion, is slowly starting to trust his humans again.
As a brief background, we had shared Gucho and Tisha’s story last week that warmed many hearts. Gucho was abandoned by his previous family who carelessly tied him to a pole and mercilessly left him there. He was found by a local shelter and placed in foster, where Tisha met him on a fateful adoption day almost a year ago. The rest has been a long but a rewarding journey as Tisha worked hard to help Gucho regain confidence and learn to trust humans again.
So, here’s Gucho’s story in Tisha’s words.
We couldn’t leave him there
In June 2021 we attended an adoption day and as we were leaving the place the organisers asked, “have you seen Gucci?” Glancing at Gucci (we renamed him to Gucho) we saw a malnourished and frightened dog. We felt as though this dog may never find a home, if we did not take him home. I was very open about being a first-time pet parent. Although growing up we had family dogs, I had not cared for one independently. I was told that Gucho is the most mellow dog and ideal for a first timer. His previous foster also shared that he is good with cats and fine with other dogs too. Little did I realise it would turn out to be quite the opposite. It didn’t take us long to figure out that Gucho was riddled with fear, cats peeve him off, he lacked confidence and was severely traumatized.
We refused to give up
Starting October last year, we’ve had five bite incidents with Gucho. The second bite incident included skin lacerations with an open wound, skin tear exposing the flesh close to the eye. Per Ian Dunbar’s Dog Bite Scale, this is deemed level 4 on the bite scale. The third incident was an attack classified as a level 5 on the bite scale.
After the second incident, we contacted the local shelter and his previous foster for help only to be ignored. The easiest thing for us to do was give him back. But the thought itself that Gucho might end up in the wrong home, and eventually lose his life was unbearable. I kept questioning: why should he be blamed for trauma caused by his careless former family? We decided to work with trainers instead of giving up on Gucho.
Our experience with trainers has been full of challenges and learnings. Trainer A came home and caused more chaos than comfort. Mind you, some trainers have x-ray vision. Within 30 minutes she was able to deduce that the dog had a mental problem and recommended medication because both her dogs are on medication. She was extremely nervous around Gucho, and he sensed that. It riled him up. He continued to bark at her until he was tired. She clutched on to her handbag for her dear life and clearly this was something she could not deal with.
Instead of being honest, she diagnosed a mental illness and insinuated that putting a dog down would be better than sending him to the kennels. When I heard that, tears started streaming down my face. I still remember running to give Gucho a hug and whispered in his ear that I will not let anything happen to him. But I also learned something from this experience. A trainer may come with popularity awards but that doesn’t necessarily make her successful. Popularity awards don’t count.
Trainer after trainer failed us
Recommended by the shelter, walks in Trainer B like a macho, grabs a hold of the leashed dog and shares that Saluki mixes are not pets. My face fell. He said that they don’t deserve love and told us to confine Gucho to a leash and space in the house to show him his place. Oh yes, he also recommended that a golden retriever would be a much better dog than a saluki mix for a first-time owner. Along with the shelter, this trainer recommended daycare which is when the third attack happened.
I did not understand how to read the body language of a stressed dog, and the daycare was extremely careless and failed to share that Gucho was not comfortable. Our trainer disappeared and the shelter recommended we bring him back to the adoption day. This clearly was a NO GO for us, so I continued my ‘trainer search’. Trainer after trainer failed us. One person decided to chase the dog around the sofa and yelled at me for not yanking on his leash. Another said saluki mixes are very hard to train, its best we get rid of him.
Nine trainers later we found a healer
We refused to give up and that was a blessing. Because nine trainers later in came Enric Girones, a true blessing in disguise. He is the only person in Dubai who helped us with Gucho’s healing journey. By then I had lost all faith with trainers in Dubai, but he quickly changed this around for us. His warm and comforting disposition offered us much hope. Yet he was and is extremely honest about the road ahead. I am so grateful, and my heart is so happy that we have placed all our trust with Enric which has helped Gucho become more confident day by day.
We offer Gucho choice, reward his behaviours, show him love, the only true medicine that he needed. He is allowed in every corner of the house, and we help him learn to overcome his fears and trust again. My hope is that every dog in Dubai could find a guide like Enric. And maybe every trainer in Dubai needs to take a page from his book. He never gave up on the dog or suggested things like medication as quick fix. Instead, he taught us the basics which we immediately applied and could see a change very quickly. Enric is honest, kind to the dog, generous with his time and knowledge and extremely humble. These are some salient qualities that every other trainer lacked. The pet industry could do with serious regulations.
If you are left wondering about training methods that Enric Girones’ used with Gucho, look out for our video.
Should you have a similar story to share, write to us or drop a note on our Instagram page.