Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Lily and Maddison: an update

Thank you to those of you who have shown such an interest in Lily and Maddison.

Update 11:58 (13th December): A short update on Lily's progress.

We are aware that many people have been waiting anxiously to hear more about the pair but we wanted to give both dogs time to adjust to their new circumstances before updating you on their progress. We appreciate that it can be frustrating waiting to hear more about such a public appeal, but we had to consider the dogs' wellbeing first and did not want to release half the story; it was, in fact, only this week that we had a full update to give.

A home was found for both Lily and Maddison and due to Lily’s special circumstances the settling in process needed to be very gradual. However, despite the best efforts of staff and the very committed new owners it became evident that Lily and Maddison were no longer happy to live together. Quite simply the nature of their relationship changed in their new home environment and after careful consideration and many attempts at re-introduction in different surroundings which continued until very recently, the decision was made that they would need to be rehomed separately.

Maddison remains very happy in her new home and Lily is doing fine back at the rehoming Centre. She is getting on very well without Maddison as living with her in a home environment just didn’t seem to work and was clearly stressful for her. The staff at Dogs Trust Shrewsbury are looking after her so well and she is not short of love and hugs. Our number one priority has always been the health, welfare and safety of both dogs, and this decision was not made lightly.

We hugely appreciate the concern and affection shown for these two dogs by supporters around the world, and thank you for your patience in awaiting this update.

Q: Why did it take so long for Dogs Trust to post an update on Lily and Maddison?

A: Dogs Trust has worked tirelessly with both Lily and Maddison since it became evident that they could not stay together in the home environment. We wanted to give both dogs as much time as they needed to settle down before giving an update on them. Their welfare is our priority above all else.

Q: Why were Lily and Maddison separated?

A: The dogs went to their new home together on 29th October and within one day of being in that environment Lily started to show signs of aggression towards Maddison and eventually attacked her. Maddison became very frightened of Lily and the family who was so willing to take on these two huge dogs were heartbroken to have to make the decision to contact Dogs Trust again to make them aware of their concerns. It was then decided that for the welfare of Lily and Maddison they should be returned to Dogs Trust where Training and Behaviour advisors could asses the unexpected situation.

Q: What happened when Lily and Maddison were returned to Dogs Trust?

A: From 30th October - 7th November Canine Carers and the Training and Behaviour Advisor at Dogs Trust Shrewsbury worked with Lily and Maddison every day to try to rehabilitate and reintroduce the dogs to each other. They did a scent transfer in their kennels and made sure that they were introduced to each other in different locations at the Rehoming Centre to give them the best possible chance to rebuild their relationship. Staff produced a daily report on their progress and gave them the most thorough assessment possible.

Sadly, the nature of their relationship seemed to have changed totally since being in their new home environment together.

Lynn Barber our Head of Training gives this assessment:

'The aggressive reaction Lily had towards Maddison in her new home is almost certainly because she is blind, meaning she will have adjusted and reacted differently compared to a dog with full vision. Lily had been living in a home for six years and in an environment that she was comfortable in and used to. The move to kennels with Maddison would not have been too hard for Lily as the kennel environment is limited and easier to adjust to. This means her relationship with Maddison would have been easy to maintain and remained stable.

Until that point assessment proved that the dogs were happiest together and that they offered each other valuable support – rehoming Lily and Maddison together became the Rehoming Centre’s priority.

Sadly for Lily moving to another home proved extremely stressful and she struggled to adjust to the new environment, find her way around, and build a new relationship with her owners whilst maintaining her friendship with Maddison. The stress and uncertainty Lily felt during the move resulted in her attacking Maddison. Unfortunately some fights in the dog world are so distressing that it becomes too difficult to forgive each other. After weeks’ of trying to reintroduce the dogs it was clear that they were extremely distressed in each others’ company and happiest when kept apart.

For the safety and wellbeing of the dogs Lily and Maddison will be rehomed separately. Human company and affection in their new homes will help to take the place of dog companionship and ensure their happiness'

Originally, when Lily and Maddison came to Dogs Trust, they got on very well in a kennel environment. This is the reason that we sent out a rehoming appeal looking for a home that would take them both on. We could not foresee the change in Lily’s behaviour towards Maddison in a home environment but had to act accordingly once this was highlighted to us. Due to the nature of the attack on Maddison in the home Dogs Trust had the responsibility for the safety of both dogs and the family members who took them on.

They were finally separated on Thursday 17th November.

Q: Why did the new owners decide to keep Maddison instead of Lily?

A: The staff at Dogs Trust had made a decision after thorough assessment that they would need to be rehomed separately - for the welfare of both dogs. The family were willing to take Maddison back without Lily. Rehoming Centre staff were relieved as Maddison was not coping very well in kennels.

Maddison was most suited to the family as she has never shown signs of aggression towards other dogs which is important as the daughter of the family has two dogs who regularly visit the house.

Staff at Dogs Trust Shrewsbury are confident that they will find a wonderful home for Lily as there was so much interest in both dogs but also interest from people who would be keen to rehome just one of them. She will have to go to a special home where she is the only pet. Lily adores human contact so it will also have to be a home where she has company for most of the day.

Thankfully neither Lily nor Maddison have shown distress or anxiety apart and in fact the only time they have shown anxiety is when they are together.

Q: Is Dogs Trust involving Great Dane Rescue in the story of Lily and Maddison?

A: Where appropriate we have worked with breed rescue organisations when rehoming some of our dogs but on this occasion with Lily and Maddison we didn’t feel it was necessary as we could not have foreseen the change in nature of Lily and Maddison’s relationship. Dogs Trust has previous experience working with and rehoming Great Danes successfully.

Q: What is Dogs Trust doing to help Lily now that she is back with them?

A: Firstly, Lily is getting lots of hugs and attention from the staff at Dogs Trust Shrewsbury. She is being thoroughly assessed by the Training and Behaviour Advisor and we are carefully looking at rehoming possibilities for her.

Q: Has Dogs Trust informed the Daily Mail about the changes in Lily and Maddison’s relationship and circumstances?

A: By the time the story of Maddison and Lily’s rehome had gone to print the attack had happened. Unfortunately it was too late as the story had already gone to press. However the Daily Mail have since been informed of the current situation.

Update 14:25 (23rd November): Just to clarify, as this was originally not in the statement but is in fact the case, initially both dogs were returned to us while behavioural work and assessments were carried out. Apologies for not making that clear in the original text.

Update 15:07 (24th November): We have updated the above with answers to frequently asked questions. We also posted this in its entirety on Facebook at 17:27 last night. You can see that entire thread here.

Update 11:58 (13th December): A short update on Lily's progress.
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