• The Canine Behaviour Rehabilitation Centre
  • South West England
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We offer heavily reduced rates for rescues so that they can gain help for dogs in their care that can’t be moved forward into homes. Chico was one of these special lads, he came into us from his rescue with severe human and stranger reactivity and guarding in the home. He was a complex lad who had also been diagnosed and was being treated for, epilepsy. We were able to get to the bottom of Chico’s health issues and work with him to address his behavioural problems and in July 2022 he found a home with two of our volunteers who understand his issues and absolutely adore every inch of him.

Below are a few of Chico’s rehab diary extracts from his time with us:

August 21

Chico went for a calm stroll out in the fields, where we bumped into several dogs who he was excited to see and greet. He was quite pully so will get him in a harness in future, he was better on lead when with another dog. We also had some down time, just sat having fuss and cuddles and watching the Sanctuary’s day to day business. He’s such a sweet lad, who has such a funny smile and is multi-handler with several staff members here. Well done, Chico.

September 21

Chico is under the vets at the moment as we wanted to make sure his epilepsy meds were really helping effectively as he has many little fits of prancing but nothing more severe. He’s had blood tests to measure his medication levels in his blood and he may well have these adjusted with extra anti-anxiety meds. So, life is all about keeping him calm and happy right now and feeling safe … which he is xx

Chico has been under the vet to realign his epilepsy meds to support and suit him better and also to aid him in his general anxiety levels that cause his fits, and his new meds are suiting him well. We have been working with Chico to help reduce his anxieties and stress and having downtime in the fields, he’s a busy boy and just needs reassurance to help him feel safe and secure. He loves having time off lead, bouncing around playing with toys, it’s a perfect quiet zone for him to be himself with minimal visual exposure. Good boy Chico.

Chico suffers with severe epilepsy and we think we have finally got his meds right after three reviews and amendments from the vets. He’s had four quiet days with minimal fits, and he is much calmer in himself, he s off dog food at the moment but loving the home cooked chicken. We’ll get him there and feeling safer in himself and with the world as his epilepsy is part fear based xx

October 21

Chico came into us due to his fear reactivity in the home and his epilepsy through his rescue. Having spent some time with us and being under our vets he has shown no reactivity, but we have been getting to the bottom of his “epilepsy “which the vets believe to be not actual epilepsy but to be a lesion (a lesion does not have to be a physical lesion but an area of irregular brain / electrical activity). It impacts his daily life tremendously always being on the verge of prancing, head tilts and balance loss on occasions. He has had various medicine reviews and is now slowly being weaned off his epilepsy drugs over a few months but for now remaining on his anti-anxiety drugs. His lesion also impacts on his daily life not just with episodes but also in his wanting to eat so right now his diet is of chicken nuggets and digestive biscuits which is far from ideal, but it is food and as he has less episodes, he will be able to return to normal foods. This has started already with him wanting to eat sausages, pilchards, and a little wet meat.
This whole process will take us two or three months to help him have the best life he possibly can, and he needs to remain with us until this element of his being is sorted. He has had a good two weeks with minimal episodes, good appetite and very happy in himself so we creep forward slowly. Chico lives in his favourite spot he has chosen in the rehab centre and is continually monitored and kept an eye on by staff who are there with the reassuring cuddles he needs in his bed until his episodes end. Our rehab is not always just behavioural but more a mix of behavioural and medical investigation which involves working closely with our vets to look at the whole picture and put the jigsaw together xx

November 21

Chico is doing well with his episodes and as his epilepsy meds are reduced, he is still very stable and eating well xx

Chico is still doing well as his epilepsy meds slowly come down x

December 21

Chico is still doing really well as his episode meds reduce and is enjoying rehab life xx

An update from Chico’s rescue:

You may all remember, Chico who came into our care back in November 2020. Chico was originally diagnosed with Epilepsy and adopted to a wonderful family in the UK.

Sadly, his behaviour started to change, and he became extremely anxious and reactive and despite the family’s very best efforts his fits increased. After working extensively with a behaviourist, we all agreed that it was in Chico’s best interests to be moved. We were very fortunate to secure a place for Chico at the Birkett-Smith Animal Sanctuary in Dorset and he moved there in August 2021.

They offer unique rehabilitation spaces for UK rescues – a mix of behavioural and medical investigation. Thanks to their intensive work with Chico, it was discovered that he does not have epilepsy but a lesion on his brain which was the cause of the changes in behaviour his adopters witnessed. Sadly, there is no treatment for his lesion, and the side effects of this make him reactive and severely anxious which results in fits and behaviour changes.

He is now on the medication he needs to keep his condition as stable as possible. Chico responded wonderfully to the sanctuary environment and his handlers and loved the volunteers there. I am utterly delighted to announce that 2 of the wonderful Birkett-Smith volunteers Cathy Long and Pat Hegarty also fell in love with Chico and over the last few months he has been carefully transitioning from the sanctuary environment to their home.

They understand Chico's needs and absolutely adore him, and he loves them. I'm delighted to announce that they are permanently fostering him, and Chico has the very best forever home with them. Permanent foster is only available for our very special case animals. It is adoption in all the usual ways except it means that AAR will provide lifetime support for Chico and pay all his vet/medical bills related to his neurological problem.

Joy Keys and the Birkett-Smith team at the sanctuary will continue to offer support and help for Chico and his new family and provide local full rescue back up. We don’t know what the future holds for Chico or how the brain lesion may develop and impact him.

His wonderful family understand his condition and enjoy and celebrate every day of happiness and great quality of life that he currently has. Chico is one of AAR's most complex cases, and we couldn't have found this perfect solution without these amazing individuals.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts Joy Keys Cathy Long and Pat Hegarty.