Fred begins his new life after being found as a stray

Fred, a 3-year-old Mastiff, made his way into our NAWT Berkshire centre back in May 2022. He first was held in the dog pound, after being found as a stray with another female dog, until NAWT took over.

When Fred arrived in our care, it was suspected that he may have been used for breeding due to how he was found. He was reactive towards other dogs and showed signs that perhaps he had experienced an abusive past.

The team worked very closely with Fred, to try and build up his confidence, and show him that not all humans are bad. In the meantime, Fred’s new start in life was just around the corner as a perfect candidate applied as a potential match in August 2022.

Now 5 months later, we have heard from Fred’s wonderful new owners and we are so pleased to hear that he is settling in really well. He has sent us over a lovely update, and we hope you enjoy reading it as much as we did.

“We first met Freddie (Fred) on the 2nd of August 2022. We were warned that he is very reactive towards other dogs, would be wearing a muzzle, and may be very wary of me, at least.

Having prepared myself for a cross between Hannibal Lector and Cerberus, when I saw him, my immediate thought was ‘this is the dog for me’. Yes, he was pulling on the lead a bit, but Holly was able to hold him.

That very first visit we were sat some 8 or 10 feet apart, and it was clear my feelings weren’t reciprocated!

He had absolute trust in the NAWT staff and stayed really close to them. It was only after almost an hour that he finally took a treat that had been placed close to me. My wife on the other hand was accepted almost immediately.

I visited twice a week for around 8 to 10 weeks. The centre staff gave us so much time. I felt guilty about my frequent visits, realising they had other work to do rather than just spend an hour watching me making friends with a dog."

On the 8th August Fred made his first contact

On the 10th August Fred started to show progress

"The next step was introducing him to our granddaughters who are 2 and 4. This was done with a chain fence between us and he was so good, eventually taking food from the children between the fence links.

I was introduced to Rhona Wilkins, who is a dog behaviourist. I was shown how he reacts towards other dogs, and what I should be doing in those circumstances. Effectively, as soon as he looks at me, rather than the other dog, he gets a high value treat, which is either chicken, turkey, or liver.

The 4th of October was home day! He was absolutely fine in the car and after a couple of hours mooching around the house and garden, he finally settled down.

Our chairs and sofa were made dog ready, but he laid on the floor!"

Fred was very happy to be in the car to go home!

Fred finally realises he's at home

"His reactivity to other dogs is still a work in progress and we have good days and bad days. I’m expecting many more months of patience, it’s not his fault the way he is.

More recently we’ve taken to hiring a secure field, it then allows Freddie to be lead, muzzle and harness free, and to run around as much as he likes. Funnily enough he’s more responsive to commands off lead.

On a lead he is well behaved and, despite always wearing a muzzle and looking slightly fierce, some people still want to make a fuss of him, which he accepts without any problems.

Around the house you wouldn’t believe the sort of life he’d been forced to live. He happily sleeps in ‘my’ chair for as long as he can get away with it, before transferring to the sofa. He sleeps downstairs in his bed and doesn’t stir until I get up in the morning.

Having decided it was too early to get another dog, Rachel now makes the biggest fuss of him, and he in turn makes the biggest fuss of her. I’m still waiting for that massive tail wag though!

His bad memories haven’t gone away sadly, as there’ve been times where, unwittingly, I’ve actually scared him and it breaks my heart.

I have had real problems getting over the loss of our last dog and Freddie has certainly helped fill the void. I only hope I can help him as much.”