The 4-Legs-Good Pet Behaviour and Counselling team includes ‘stooge’ dogs that volunteer to help other dogs resolve their issues. Often our client dogs are anxious or fearful of unknown dogs due to insufficient socialisation as puppies, or have had bad experiences with other dogs. Some just want to go and see the other dog so much that they are uncontrollable and others have suffered with poor handling. Often all of these are a factor!
We have chosen stooges in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and breeds, all of which are reliable and trustworthy to work with. It’s good to have a range of sizes, shapes, colours and sexes. It must be remembered that dogs come in four sexes: male, female, and neutered. Having a range of different dogs, allows us to tailor what we offer to whatever the client dog needs.
We choose socially skilled, robust dogs, who must be quite well trained and have good, clear body language, i.e. they must be good communicators. We work mostly at a distance and try to keep stress for the stooges to a minimum. We only allow close work having thoroughly assessed the client dog and ensure that the client dog is muzzled for this.
Most of our stooge dogs’ owners love for them to have a day out with us and they all thoroughly enjoy it!
Black Labrador – spayed - 23kgs
April 20th 2005 - Aries
Lily is our most recent recruit and she is simply delightful. She lives around the corner from Claire, so Claire knows her family. She is gentle and kind - a proper lady! Black dogs can be difficult to read, as their facial expressions are hard to discern. So there is a high likelihood that we will continue to have clients who have problems with black dogs, hence it is good to have one on the team, especially one who communicates as well as Lily.
Dalmatian – neutered - Jim would rather we didn’t mention his weight!
March 18th 2008 - Pisces
Known as 'Big Jim', Jim has known Claire nearly all his life! Claire originally met him several years ago, when called in to help his companion, Dalmatian Milly.
Jim is very robust and we often use him when we have a client dog who we think is ready to go off the lead for the first time. He has great body language and knows how to put the other dog at their ease. When confronted with aggression, Jim is never aggressive back. He is a big softy!
Lurcher – Irish Terrier x Greyhound mix– neutered – 17 kg
May 2011 - Taurus
Rover is Claire’s dog and not a typical Taurean, as he is not stubborn. He is very energetic and loves to run. Rover didn’t have the best start in life. As a result, he is a bit highly strung and he can be a bit reactive himself with larger dogs. We only use him for distance work with larger dogs, but Rover is great with small dogs, especially Terriers, as his two best friends have been terriers. He is happy for small dogs to come up close and, in doing this, he is able to help boost their confidence and improve their behaviour around unknown dogs. Rover is brilliantly attentive to whoever is handling him and he feels very safe on the lead. Contrary to what you might believe, working as a stooge has greatly enhanced Rover’s behaviour towards other dogs that we meet out on our walks - he is becoming more confident by the day.
Jack Russell X Staffordshire Bull Terrier - unspayed – 9 kg
October 20th 2012 - Sagittarius
'Spotty dog' or 'Dotty Sprog' as she is known to her friends - is the youngest of the 4-Legs-Good stooge dogs. Spot lives with Claire, Rover and the rest of the Kirby family. Spotty is delightful, singular and funny. She has the impediment of being a Jack Russell Terrier, so she is a bit of a barker. We are working on this aspect of her behaviour and she has now started work properly!
Working Cocker Spaniel - un-neutered male – 12 kgs
May 28th 2011 – Taurus
Copper is another of Claire’s neighbours and full of fun and activity! Claire’s daughter, Ester, often walks Rover and Spot with Copper and Copper’s young owner, Greg. Copper is an un-neutered male, and is very attentive and patient. He will lie or sit very still whilst working with nervous or jumpy dogs, who would be easily startled by more bouncy dogs. This makes him ideal for Behavioural Adjustment Therapy or BAT (http://empoweredanimals.com).
Working Cocker Spaniel – spayed – 13kg
July 8th 2005 - Cancer
Molly comes from working Cocker stock from a farm in south Shropshire, where 17 of her siblings still live! She will do anything for a piece of cheese and Claire saw her steal a large piece of ham at her owners' new years party! She has big ears and a waggy tail.
Molly is very well motivated by both attention and treats, and very patient. This makes her ideal for working with very cautious dogs, being motivated to stay in a BAT, setting for longer without becoming distracted or bored.
Patterdale x Collie neutered - 15 kg
September 2005 - Libran.
Dash is a rescue dog and his owners really lucked out when they brought him home! His favourite food is fish-flavoured treats and he is, as you may have guessed, even-tempered and thinks life should be fair. Dash is now semi-retired since his owners moved from Claire’s street to the other side of town. Claire and Dash’s owners have a long standing joke about how Dash is a member of the fictitious ‘Working Dogs Union’, campaigning hard for working dogs rights. He currently goes into schools with his owner to help school children find their lessons more interesting. Dash is the best stooge we have ever had - he is the perfect gentleman, mature and wise and he knows how to behave in almost every situation. He only once let us down by trying to hump a client's dog!
Golden Retriever – 25kg - neutered
May 10th 2010 - another Taurean
Unlike Rover, Indy is a typical Taurean. He is very stubborn! Indy is very resilient and a great communicator. Again, we use him with dogs that are to be allowed off-lead with other dogs for the first time. However, we had to sack him, because he stole Claire’s lunch once too often! Other than the usual retriever fur, love of any water, hatred of tractors, dominoes and mopeds, there isn't any other way of describing him except as a ‘golden stealer’ - not a golden retriever! Suffers with brown nose (winter nose) where he's lost the pigment!
Occasionally we bring him out of retirement if we have a strong dog that is ready to go off-lead with other dogs. We then take him straight home before he has the chance to steal anything!
Stella and Bracken Carswell
At the beginning of 4-legs-Good, Claire walked dogs. Stella was one of her first clients. She was an older lady with bad arthritis in one of her knees and therefore unable to give Bracken her 4 year-old Rough Collie the exercise that he needed. Bracken was very steady and plodded with the pack twice a week for a couple of years. By this time, the training and behaviour work was building up and Claire started to need steady stooges to help re-habilitate other dogs and Bracken was perfect. Stella and Bracken were some of Claire’s first friends when she moved to Shrewsbury and they stayed friends once Bracken had retired. Bracken died within a day of Claire’s dog, Daisy, in 2012 of bladder cancer. Sadly, Stella also died just before Christmas 2014. We miss them both and would like to extend our gratitude for their help and friendship.