In December 2022, my husband, Steve, and I rescued our dog, a then 95lb, 13 month old Mastiff/Great Dane mix from the Guelph Humane Society named Elliot. Knowing he was destined to become a big boy, we renamed him Heavy Devy after our favourite Canadian musician, Devin Townsend.
Devy had severe skin allergies, anxiety and needed intense work on his reactivity during walks. We were told he needed injections for his allergies and to be medicated to treat his anxiety. Having been a mastiff owner year before, I knew this big boy needed a home with patience, love and a family who could invest time in understanding his unique needs. Mastiffs are wonderful, loving dogs, but require owners who have the time and the knowledge of guardian breeds to understand their temperament.
We started by engaging our incredible vet, Dr. Scott Gardiner from Guelph Lake Veterinary Hospital to assist in reducing medications and finding a health plan that made sense. To assist with his leash behaviours and socialization, we recruited an amazing trainer from Tails About Town to start an action plan for us when walking and interacting with Devy. Using positive reinforcement training to grow his confidence, we have made incredible strides in reducing his reactivity and he continues to show signs of progress each day. With lots of patience, practice and a few treats along the way, we have managed to find a successful, natural diet for his allergies, learned strategies and skills for his anxiety, removed unnecessary medications.
Our children, who have never had a dog before, have learned to respond to Devy’s social cues, understand his needs and can even learned to walk him with confidence. I can’t think of a better gift to have given our children than to teach them empathy, responsibility, and compassion towards animals by rescuing our beloved Heavy Devy. In return, Devy has brought so much love and laughter to our home. As his anxiety softened, his fun, playful and gentle nature has begun to shine and he can easily be found curling up next to the family during a movie night or engaging in a game of catch with the kids.
To anyone considering rescuing or adopting a pet, know that it will be work, and require effort, but the return on your investment will be a home full of love…and fur!
Story by Samantha Clarke, Devy’s Parent