Love, patience and determination makes for the best dog in the world
I am from the Netherlands and moved to South Africa in 1980, then to Australia in 1986. I worked as a nurse but had to retire due to a back injury in 2005. I had a back surgery in 2015 and have since needed a walker to walk.
My two late husbands and I have rescued many dogs over the years; most of them were previously ill-treated. My second late husband and I were living in Tasmania when we adopted a 9-year-old Bull Mastiff x English Wolfhound named Hammer. Funnily, my husband was a carpenter at the time. He died in 2017 and a year later Hammer passed away.
In 2019, I moved back to WA and decided I wanted another dog. I suffer from cardiac failure and was concerned that if I had a dog it would have to be rehomed if something happened to me. I spoke to my best friend Lyn, who’s always had dogs, and we decided to adopt a dog together so that if anything happened to me, she would look after it.
We looked for months before contacting a local dog refuge to ask about an older, larger dog who was friendly to small dogs, as I live in a retirement village. They told me they had a couple of dogs to look at, so Lyn and I went to meet them.
When they saw I had a walker, they addressed all their questions to Lyn. We filled out the forms and let them know it was me who wanted a dog. They went away for a discussion and came back and said they had no dogs available. I was quite discouraged. I bought a beach walker and walked every day on the beach where I met and cuddled many beautiful dogs.
In 2021, I started to look again and went to SAFE Karratha where I saw a beautiful 9-year-old Ridgeback. I used to have one and knew they were intelligent dogs but can be physically and mentally strong. I filled out the adoption forms and then I got a call from Sue. She was very kind and supportive and put me in touch with Tilly’s foster carer, who told me she was very friendly but also an escape artist!
I decided to go ahead with the adoption but then it was discovered Tilly had brown tick disease (Ehrlichiosis) and had to go into quarantine for three months.
Finally, Tilly arrived in June 2021 and Lyn and I went to Perth airport to pick her up. We took Tilly out of the crate and went for a walk. She was not overly enthusiastic but pulled hard on the lead. We put her in the car and found she was comfortable travelling in the car. After 1.5 hours we stopped for a coffee and found a dog park to take her for a walk. She was hard to manage. A man in the park with a Great Dane suggested Tilly would do better with a choker instead of a harness. He gave me his dog’s choker collar and his business card. His name was Phil Ashton, he was a dog trainer and said to call him if we had problems with Tilly.
My garden at home has a fence all around and a pool gate. We had only been home five minutes and Tilly tried to jump the fence. The next day I got a friend to build a higher fence to keep her secure.
After three weeks of trying to train Tilly, I felt she was not listening to me. She didn’t accept me as her leader and pushed ahead of me going through doors.
I contacted Phil the dog trainer for help and he took Tilly for 10 days. On the last day Lyn and I went to have some training, too.
When I brought Tilly home, she was more settled, but still took another three weeks of strict training for her to accept that I was the leader and she became much happier and affectionate towards me.
Now, when Tilly is off the lead, she runs but keeps an eye on me as well and when I sit down on my walker she comes back for a treat. She is protective of me but not aggressive and everyone in the village where I live knows and loves her. She is now well-mannered and happy.
When I needed to have a hand operation, Tilly went to live with Lyn and her partner. I visited Tilly regularly and although she was happy with Lyn, she knew I hadn’t abandoned her. Tilly is back with me now and has settled beautifully back into her routine.
I never gave up on Tilly so now I have the best dog in the world!