Hell on 4 Paws, A Story of Love, Life and Chesil, the Delinquent Dog

Hell on 4 Paws: A Story of Love, Life and Chesil, the Delinquent Dog – Gwen Bailey

hell on 4 pawsThe Blurb“As a bestselling author and owner of the Puppy School franchise, Gwen Bailey is one of the UK’s most respected dog behaviour experts and has helped millions to transform their troublesome pets into obedient and happy hounds. So what happened when one of her students – Chesil, the most dysfunctional pooch in Britain – refused to lay down, and he just so happened to be her own dog?! “Hell On 4 Paws” is the witty and wonderful story of how Gwen’s life was turned on its head when she took on a new man in her life, his family, and the unruly Chesil, her greatest challenge yet. As if adjusting to a new relationship, new home and new responsibilities wasn’t tough enough, Gwen also has to deal with Chesil’s bizarre and antisocial behaviour, a constant distraction in her crazy new life.

Follow Chesil’s amusing exploits as his outrageous personality clashes with Gwen’s time-tested techniques, and see him slowly change from an aggressive, possessive nightmare to a proud winner of the Gold Award for good citizenship. A feel-good and inspirational tale for anyone who’s ever had trouble raising a rowdy hound, “Hell On 4 Paws” shows that sometimes even the best trainers can encounter problems, and that, with a little persistence, even the worst pets can become compassionate creatures.”

What I Thought: A great read! I thoroughly recommend it!

When you take on a rescue dog, it always feels like you are taking one step forward and two steps back. Just when you think things are getting sorted, there is a sudden backward slip for no obvious reason – Gwen Bailey

This book was recommended to me as a one that was funny and filled with enough information to be both useful and entertaining. It chronicles the story of a respected and well-known dog trainer who ended up with a dog whose behaviour seemed beyond repair.

I liked the fact that she was so honest about her feelings of having to deal with this dog and how she felt so helpless, frustrated and even angry at times. It’s something that I often grapple with myself (luckily not nearly as much as in the beginning) and I often still find it so hard to cope with all Phoebe’s issues at times. This book makes you feel ok for feeling those perfectly normal emotions.

Some of my favourite moments were:
  • When Bailey discusses how she refused to take photos of Chesil in the beginning because a part of her was so reluctant to record a dog that she felt she would fail to love and would be a failure in terms of her training abilities. I never thought of it consciously, but when I read that, it suddenly hit me that I had done exactly the same thing with Phoebe! I have hundreds of photos of my cats and previous dogs, but was so reluctant to ever photograph her – now I realised why! It also made me realise that as time passed, there are more and more photos of her now. A great sign that we’re both accepting and relaxing!
  • When Bailey explains how she managed to finally teach Chesil how to accept and play with a ball. Something I always thought should be simple and instinctual, but haven’t managed to get right with Phoebe yet.
  • The anxiety she felt when enrolling Chesil into the Canine Good Citizen Test and how proud she was of her for passing both levels. I’ll be doing the test with Phoebe soon, and though I’m totally prepared for her not to pass, it’s nice to know that even a trainer can get nervous about how well their dog will do before a test
  • The happy ending. I’m a sucker for a happy ending – especially if I can find the story so relatable! :-)

But she stayed with me, her brown eyes looking into mine as if she knew I wouldn’t lead her into trouble and I felt incredibly proud to have earned such trust – Gwen Bailey

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Phoebe’s Effectiveness Summary:

Issue Addressed: Separation Anxiety, Fear, Reactivity

Tool(s) Used: Book Resource

Cost: I got the kindle edition from amazon.com for $5.79

Ease of Implementation: Not applicable. Though there were some really great tips in the book, these are aimed more at dog owners and inspiring them when things are tough, as opposed to a “how-to” guide.

Phoebe’s Effectiveness Rating: 5/5. Effective mainly because it inspired me to carry on and realise that there honestly is a light at the end of the tunnel and that with time and effort I just know we’ll get there – she’s already made so much progress in our first year together!

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