Digby Van Winkle

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Tuesday 8 May 2012

Introducing Digby!

We’d been thinking about getting a dog for years and could never really decide on the “right” one. In hindsight though I’ve come to realise that the right dog is only right because he is yours. Once you have a pet you adjust to having them as much as they adjust to you. In my mind the right dog was a happy, confident, toilet trained and calm little ball of sleeping fur. The right dog was always well behaved and didn’t chew anything he wasn’t supposed to (because we bought all the kongs and chew toys and read all the books, why would he ever want to chew?).The right dog was actually more like the impossible dog.

When we brought Digby home everything was great. He was inquisitive and had the sweetest little eyes, loved to cuddle and wanted to be near his new humans constantly. All was going well – until we got to know this new addition to the house and suddenly he was racing around, always on the move, and making a mess with his toys (the chewing was to come later). Still, although he wasn’t exactly fitting the vision of the perfect puppy our expectations changed in such a way that he was the perfect puppy in ways we hadn’t actually considered.

I feel like I’m going way off track from what I actually intended to say with this first post because it’s what everyone wants to know about him. When Digby was just coming up on 5 months old we thought it would be nice for him to get out into the world and gain some independance. He’s a very devoted dog, wanting nothing more than to be around us all the time. We decided to try to curb that by giving him some extra socialisation at daycare, something all of the books recommended.

Unfortunately for Digby though, not even 3 hours in he made a very big mistake – one that any puppy could make. Being the very social dog that he is he tried to involve himself in a private game and tried to take a toy from another (larger) dog. He suffered a nasty bite which very badly damaged his right eye. Against the odds he did make an almost full recovery. Although his eye doesn’t function as any good eye should (he has no vision in that side and his eye is constantly looking to the side) it’s healthy and gets to stay. We were very relieved once the treatment was all over and the stitches were out, as Digby spent 4 weeks in a cone and under what could only be described as house arrest. We were excited about getting him back out into all of his favourite places because we finally had our dog back! Things were different though. We noticed that he was scared of a lot of the things that he could handle quite well before. Motorbikes were suddenly sending him into a panicked frenzy. Buses were terrifying him when they didn’t before his accident and people were now public enemy number one. He was constantly barking at people and panicking when out on walks, not being able to calm himself down. Surprisingly though he still loved to say hello to other dogs and it seemed to be the only thing that would help him relax. It was almost as if he thought his own kind would never hurt him. Digby would refuse to settle down when in a situation with many people around, refusing to eat and visually terrified. Exposure did little and even seemed to take him backwards as reinforcement was not possible. Digby refused to take treats and never calmed down enough to even notice when he was being showered with praise.

Digby is making amazing progress and is growing into a very loyal, well adjusted and (sometimes) social dog who even owns his very own beach (or so he thinks)! It's a good thing he's kind enough to allow all of his doggy friends to visit.


  1. Awwww Digby... This was such an interesting read. I had no idea that you were such a baby either! Such a young chap.

    Having 2 one eyed pugs - Stanley (our fawn boy) - also lost his eye through a dog attack, and he barks at all manner of mad things... Trolleys and wheelie bins (...i don't know if they're called that in NZ?!) are his particular favourites! I think it's as they both have a reflective surface and it's the way the light catches as we pass. Pugwash - our black puggy - is seemingly unfazed by the loss of his eye, but then he did lose it when he was only 12wks old, so sadly i guess he knows no better.

    We're loving the site guys, and we'll definitely be tuning in regularly to keep up to date with one of our favourite lil furry men!

    Sending one sighted eye love from your two British wrinkley pals :)

    Ella (...from the palace ;) )

    1. Thank you to you and the two one eyed boys! Digby isn't a fan of wheelie bins either but he's improving so much. I think it's just a case of letting him learn that these things aren't out to get him even if they come out of no where and surprise him ;)

      How did pugwash lose the eye? I've always wondered about their stories.

      Digby also wants you to know that he wears his special big boy medal collar for agility class and so far he's the star pupil. Hopefully I'll have some pictures soon!

  2. Wow I didn't realize Digby was that young! I'm glad he is ok after the accident and getting better. I think he will still be making alot of progress as he grows up. It looks like he is out and about enough to slowly get his groove back. It's very interesting though b/c I've never really heard about a normal dog giving such an aggressive bite

    1. Yes, Digby is a young boy! He's 9 months now and a ball of energy. I'm glad that he gives off a sophisticated vibe though.

  3. Also you are a great Bacanator superhero Digby ❤

  4. Digby is such à Cute dog <3 such an integrering story . I know My dog was attacker by a much larger dog and thankfully nothing happened. So glad digby is doing Great

    1. Sorry to hear that your dog was attacked but I'm glad your pup is okay! It's never a fun situation to be in.

  5. Oh my gosh! Poor Digby :( How old was digby when you adopted him? Do you have any photos of him as a puppy?