09 June, 2015
Rio, the special dog that started it all
Sometimes life doesn’t always start the way you had hoped or the way you deserve, but fortunately there is always the chance that something wonderful will happen.
Rio spent her first 6 years of life in a puppy mill where her “job” was to produce litter after litter. The world around her consisted of a small pen where she was unable to roam or play; where she felt the heart break of having her puppies ripped away from her over and over again. Fortunately Rio was eventually rescued from the puppy mill and the search for her forever home and her second chance at life began.
Anji Little from Kent, United Kingdom did not grow up with dogs but reached a stage in her life where she knew she wanted to bring one into her family. The day she decided to visit the shelter was the day Rio’s life changed forever, but it almost didn’t happen.
As soon as Anji saw Rio being walked around the shelter's grounds she felt a connection and immediately inquired about adopting her. She was told that Rio was already being adopted by another family and was no longer available. Disappointed Anji decided that she would come back and check at a later date to see if another Boxer like Rio would be available, but just as she was leaving one of the staff told her that the family who had reserved Rio had changed their mind. The introduction to the family dog did not go very well and this family decided to not move forward leaving Rio available to join Anji’s family.
When Rio came home with Anji it was clear that her previous life at the puppy mill had taken its toll on her. At first Rio did not like to go out for walks and would only walk in circles because that is what she was used to doing in her pen given the limited space, so she had to learn how to participate in normal exercise, she had to learn how to be a dog.
Her new family also noticed the emotional scars she carried being heavily bred and having her puppies taken away from her. Knowing how difficult this must have been for Rio, Anji decided to bring a puppy into their family for Rio to care for and raise, so Ruby soon joined their family. Almost instantly they adored each other and Rio came to life. They were able to start walking her and she quickly began embracing her new life with her new family.
Rio’s personality started to shine through and she quickly became a mommy’s girl and Anji’s shadow. Their bond stemmed from Anji taking 6 weeks off work in the beginning and grew from there.
Fast forward to today and Rio is now estimated to be 10 yrs of age and has started to slow down. When Rio started getting tired on walks and became less playful than she once was, they decided to bring a younger dog into the family to give Ruby a playmate and give Rio a bit of a rest. This is when Amber entered their family.
“Everything in our lives now revolves around our dogs, they have become our children and we do everything together.”
With two younger sisters, Rio stays young at heart despite some signs of arthritis and incontinence issues. To ensure everyone is included Anji and her husband adapt their routines to Rio’s needs. If she is tired on a walk Anji will slow the pace down while her husband throws a ball up ahead for Ruby and Amber so they can all stay together as a family.
Rio started showing signs of incontinence a few months ago. At first the signs were minor, only a few drips here and there, but over time it progressed to a full bladder release during her sleep. Rio would wake very upset at what had happened as if she let her family down in some way. Her accidents not only impacted Rio emotionally, but it created a challenge for her family who while trying to reassure Rio that she did nothing wrong, had to contend with what seemed like endless cleaning; washing blankets sometimes 2-3 times a day.Anji tried using puppy pads which worked if she stayed in one place, but didn’t help once she would move. The decision to try washable dog nappies to manage her incontinence was largely motivated by how distressed and sad Rio was about having accidents. People suggested trying medication that she would need to be on for the rest of her life, but there would be side effects to consider and it often takes a while to get the medication right.
“We wanted something more effective, something comfortable and that didn’t cause Rio any distress so we thought we’d try using nappies.”
Rio has taken to her Washable Wonders dog nappies without a hitch and her younger sisters respect that this is what she needs and have resisted the urge to tear the nappy off her.
“Having these nappies has made Rio so happy. They have given her dignity back. She is no longer upset about having accidents. She was noticeably sad about what was happening and that has now changed.”
Rio is still a gentle and cuddly dog and according to her family still thinks she’s a puppy climbing on your lap should it be available and falling asleep. One of Anji’s favorite things about Rio is how on walks she will go and sit on the park bench when she has decided she needs a rest. Rio also knows when you aren’t feeling well and will come and rest her head on your lap and will not leave your side. So loving and sweet, Rio will raise her paw to greet people that come to visit. A natural mother, she is great with children who will often fall asleep across her body.
Rio has been life changing for the Little’s. As Anji’s first dog, Rio was a totally new experience and has showed them that their lives must always include dogs.
Life is all about new beginnings and thanks to Anji’s incredibly big heart she has been able to give Rio a life most dogs dream of – a family (two-legged and four-legged) that loves her, the freedom to live life at her pace and the peace in knowing she will always be taken care of no matter what the challenge.
“She really does have a special place in our hearts and we would do anything to give her happiness for the rest of her life.”