The matted and scared little guy was one of a whopping 26 dogs rescued from a home in October 2020.
Their owner had realised they were struggling to cope with such a large number of dogs, many of whom were kept in dark sheds and had very little human contact.RSPCA inspector Justin Stubbs, who led the operation, said: ‘These were well-loved dogs, but the number had just become too much for the owner.
‘We worked closely with them, and they agreed it would be better for the animals to come into our care where new homes could be found for them.’
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When they were taken in, the dogs were not used to being handled, and poor little Ralph was so afraid and upset that he’d spend all day smushed into the back corner of his kennel staring at the wall.Kennel supervisor Tiffany Saunders said: ‘When Ralph arrived he was completely shut-down.
‘He would squash himself at the back of his kennel and spent all of his time staring at the wall. He was very matted and covered in faeces and urine.
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‘The team spent weeks just quietly sitting in his kennel with him offering him treats.
‘Eventually, he’d come up behind us and take the treats from our hand before running away to the safety of his corner and eating them. He wouldn’t eat his dinner until night when we’d all gone home; it was heartbreaking.’
Staff kept up his routine of seeing a only few people so that he could bond with them and come out of his shell.‘When he first wagged his tail as we entered the kennel it was so incredible,’ Tiffany recalled.
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The team spent months winning the dogs’ confidence and socialising them.
Most of them needed to have their coats shaving due to matts and many were suffering from flea infestations and ear infections.
Tiffany said: ‘The dogs had experienced little of the outside world and were all terrified.
‘They wouldn’t look at us and many would freeze if we entered their kennel.
‘Amazingly, like Ralph, one-by-one they each started to come out of their shell and really have flourished since.’
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Staff slowly started introducing Ralph to walks and helping him cope with meeting new people, but they knew he’d need a special new home with people who would understand his needs and keep his training up.After he’d spent more than eight months working with the RSPCA’s behaviour and care teams, Ralph was adopted in June 2021 by Sarah and Trevor Rix, from Norfolk. Sarah said: ‘Ralph was a very timid, scared little boy when we rehomed him but with help of the RSPCA staff we became attuned to his needs and learned when to give him his space and when to encourage him to expand the boundaries of his comfort zone.
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‘With a calm and safe routine, his behaviour gradually improved as his trust in us increased.’Ralph is now best buds with the Rix’s other dog, Rosie, who’s been his role model with things like toilet training and car travel. ‘Ralph and Rosie love to go for woodland walks and we recently took the brave step of letting Ralph off the lead to run and play when we’re in safe areas,’ said Sarah. ‘He absolutely loves this.
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‘Ralph has made lots of new friends (some four-legged, some two-legged) and has gradually overcome any uncertainty. Our regular acquaintances say they can’t believe how he has changed from a nervous seven-year-old puppy into such a happy, confident dog.
‘Ralph is a lovely little chap who melts the hearts of everyone he meets and is a favourite with all our family, especially the grandchildren.
‘He is a very sensitive and gentle character who may never fully escape his history but, every day, he brings love into our home. We feel the day we met him was the start of a wonderful relationship for all of us.’
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Tiffany added: ‘It’s so wonderful to see how well Ralph is now doing in his new home, he’s unrecognisable from the frightened little dog who arrived with his friends almost 18 months ago during lockdown.
‘This is what we do this job for, so dogs like Ralph can have the second chance that they deserve.’
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