Pumba is another four-legged member of my family. He is a four year old Dogue de Bordeax, and that’s him above.
Pumba came into our lives in October last year, and was actually as a result of a client telling me about him. At that stage, we already had two dogues in the family (Yogi and Loopy Lucy), as well as Charlie, and it was becoming clear that Charlie and Loopy weren’t getting on, so I had the vague idea of getting another dog to keep Loopy company and separate her from Charlie. I’m very much a fan of dogues as a breed and it was going through my head that I should get another, preferably a rescue.
It just so happened that my client knew a local breeder who was wanting to re-home one of her adult males, so one day I headed out to this breeder’s home to meet him. I brought Yogi with me because Yogi can be unaccepting of some male dogs and I wanted to make sure there wouldn’t be any dog fights.
The breeder – Linda – had maybe 12 dogues on her property, all wandering around freely, beautiful, healthy animals. Pumba was one of them, not so much wandering around but lumbering slowly as some of the bigger dogues tend to do. His name wasn’t Pumba but some other Czech name which I wasn’t that fond of. The reason for the Czech name is that he was actually imported from Czechoslovakia as a puppy for the eye-popping sum of $18,000,00!
He had had four very healthy litters, with another on the way. And for some reason which I still don’t understand Linda had him de-sexed and wanted to rehome him. The proposal was that I pay for his shots that were due, and that’s it. So a purebred, champion- line, imported dogue worth $18000.00 for a few hundred dollars.
Yes, I’m still puzzled by it but it’s kind of irrelevant to me. I noticed he was an extremely placid, sweet-natured dog, and Yogi didn’t mind him at all. So after a bit of paperwork, we helped him into the back of my Ute. He has an enormous neck and Linda had a spare XXL collar that was too tight but had to do, and we had to use a ramp for him to get into the Ute (he’s not nimble!)
It’s funny to say this but from the time we got him home, for all that he’s enormous, we barely noticed he was around. He’s extremely timid, which I hadn’t noticed at Linda’s – not that it would have made a difference. In the first several months he basically lived in the carport around the side of the house, only coming out occasionally, to eat or do his business. Whenever we went out to the carport or came home, and if he did happen to not be hiding in his corner, he’d go running back as soon as he saw us. It was quite sad really but we just let him be, figuring he just needed time to settle in. We christened him Pumba quite early in the piece and it became a bit of a habit where we would go out into the carport and say by rote “Hi Pumba, bye Pumba”, because we knew he’d go running off as soon as he saw us. Totally puzzling, because we are a kind, animal-loving family but I guess Pumba just had deep trust issues.
One morning, I was in a bit of a rush doing my chores and as I rounded the corner of the house I accidentally ran into him and tripped over him. I think he stayed hiding for about two days after that. Things like that affected him greatly.
Anyway, several months later he wasn’t much better although was venturing further afield in broad daylight, like to the shed and my side garden. He and Charlie got on very nicely, but Yogi just ignored him and Pumba kept out of Yogi’s way, which was natural. He would start running up to me when I would go outside, but then he’d kind of get freaked and run back to his hidey-place.
I bought him this massive kennel (like a small house with a front veranda) and placed it in the carport, in an effort to persuade him out of his hidey-place. At first he wouldn’t have a bar if it, but then I shifted it so the entrance didn’t face outwards into the carport, then he loved it, so he had a nice safe place near the back door.
Slowly but surely he has become more comfortable, some ten months after he arrived. He now runs up to me all the time, tail wagging, snuffling and grunting in that typical dogue way, and he doesn’t scuttle back to his house but will follow me. Every now and then he will have these “puppy” episodes where he’ll behave with cheekiness and excitement, but that only lasts for a few seconds. He still has these “freak out” times, and he is afraid of events outside his normal daily routine, and afraid of new people. Hopeless guard dog of course, but who cares. Poor baby. I cannot figure it out. As far as I know he was imported as a puppy and only knew life with Linda, and I’d be confident she treated him well, but what would I know I suppose. There is definitely something affecting him. Maybe something in his genes??
Anyway, he has a home with me for life, and I hope he will grow to be totally happy and comfortable.