Casper’s journey from ‘Homeless’ to ‘Forever Home’

We like to receive photos of your pets and hear about their journeys.  The story about her dog Casper came to us from his mum Jessica and it particularly touched us, so we decided to create a special award of ‘Dog of the Festive Season’ as his story is happy and definitely one to celebrate! We gave Casper his Christmas present and he was very excited because he loves Canidae dog food!

Casper is a eight year old Maremma sheepdog who we first adopted at three years of age from the RSPCA in Brisbane.

Though his exact backstory is somewhat hazy, we had been told that he had been found stray and then, on return, been given up. The RSPCA took Casper in with an engorged prostate that, along with desexing, required surgery.

After recovering at the pound Casper came to live with us in Sydney. When he came to us he was, for his stature and breed, underweight, riddled with intestinal worms and easily scared.

Today he walks with his head held high, but back then he would sometimes slink and hold his head held down low. He seemed to have been harshly disciplined and sensitive to “doing the wrong thing”.

We ourselves had to learn what rules he had internalised. One of these rules was to never go inside the house. On his first day in our home he stood on the edge of the backdoor, longing to come in but scared to do so. Food, treats, encouragement – nothing worked.

We gave him his own time to acclimatise but eventually put him on a lead and walked him into the house, where upon he sat down and gave an enormous grin. For a while he was so excited about being allowed inside the house that he didn’t want to leave – even to go into the garden – lest it be taken away from him. This anxiety that all he had could be taken away from him took a while to shake off.

In the first few weeks Casper would follow me from room to room so as to never let me out of his sight. Similarly, at night time he would get up and pad around the house check that both myself and Andrew were OK. We would wake up to his face staring intently and adoringly at us at 2am.

But as the years went on he found his confidence in us and his new surroundings. He also put on some much needed weight, going from 37kg to 50kg, which though heavy for other dogs is the right weight for his breed and stature.

Today, Casper now comes and goes as he pleases, and no longer wakes us up with his midnight patrols. As a Maremma who needs companionship and something to guard, at home he has not only two humans but three backyard chickens. There are days when we have come home to find Casper huddled on his bed on the balcony with the chooks, other days when he rests inside the chicken coop.

Myself and Andrew have learnt so much from watching Casper’s gentle and affectionate nature. When I went back to full time work we were concerned that Casper might be anxious with too much time on his hands (or paws). To counter this we sent Casper to Scruffy’s Doggy Daycare. As with everything in life, he took this in his stride and absolutely adores the other dogs, the games, and the staff.

For myself and my husband Andrew, Casper is a cherished and much loved part of our family. The happiest times are when we are all together – whether that is going for walks, swimming at the beach or having cuddles in front of the TV.