If you have read through my “Catching up” entries, you’ll know we adopted a neighbour’s dog when the family had to move back to Durban. He is a white, smallish terrier mix, named TJ.

When we got him, he came with several bad habits. These included stealing socks and defecating where he felt like it, in the house. He was, and still is, a very sensitive dog, so disciplining him was difficult. Yelling did not work and he did not feel it when you gave him a hiding. What makes it worse is that he sometimes wets himself during discipline.

We took TJ for puppy training when he was 6 months old, but his attention span was so short that nothing sank in. He was always more interested in where Fayth and Marc were. Any sound, and he was off to investigate it. The only training that actually sank in, was how to sit on command.

I’m glad to say, we finally broke him of the defecating habit. In bed at night, I’d tie him to my wheelchair with a leash and make him sleep on a cushion above my head. That way, he had no choice but to wake either myself or Marc if he wanted to go out. It took a few months, but he finally figured it out. Now, he sleeps without the leash and wakes Marc by climbing across his chest and licking his face.

But it’s not only to relieve his own bladder now. He will wake us up if Fayth wants to go out as well. He watches her, to make sure she’s OK and then follows her inside. It’s really cute.

TJ will turn 2 in June, around the same time that Fayth turns 12. Recently, I decided to try training him again and feel that I’m getting more results than the first time round. Though, his recall still leaves much to be desired. He goes berserk every time someone walks past our gate and calling him inside does not always work.

I still had the problem that he yanked hard when walking him on leash. Marc could barely control him and me attempting to take him for a walk was impossible. That was walking him on a harness. I bought a check chain from the pet shop on the weekend and it has made a remarkable difference. He has stopped pulling and pays attention now to where I want to go, not where he wants to go.

I doubt we’ll ever break him of the sock-stealing habit, but on the whole, TJ is developing into a wonderful little mutt. When we first got him, Marc called him the worst decision I’d ever made. Now he is the best decision and I’m sure he’ll bring us much pleasure in the years ahead.

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