A London animal charity appeals to people to reject the stigmatism of bull breeds as a five-year-old dog still seeks a forever home after 11 months and risks spending Christmas without a home to call his own.

A London animal charity is appealing to members of the public to judge every dog by their personality rather than breed.

The message comes as Mayhew urgently appeals for a forever home for the longest-staying rescue dog, five-year-old American Bulldog, Zeusy, who has been at the Kensal Green animal rescue charity for 11 months now. Zeusy was first spotted tied to a lamp post in North Wembley on 25 January by two concerned passers-by who calmed him and after having carefully untied him, took him to the nearby Mayhew charity.

When Zeusy first arrived at Mayhew that night, his initial response to the animal welfare team was one of fear and anxiety manifested by his barking and growling. An examination by the Mayhew veterinary team indicated that he was in good health overall and despite being microchipped there was no response to outreach attempts to the named previous owner.

As Merryn Walker, Mayhew Head of Kennels, Dog Adoptions and Fostering explains, “Zeusy is of those sad stories you read about over Christmas. When Zeusy came to us, he was clearly terrified and traumatised after having been left tied to a lamp post on a cold January night, we have no idea how long he had been left there and it is only thanks to the concerned people who spotted him that he is with us today. Who knows what could have happened to him otherwise? As we have been unable to contact the owner, we have no history whatsoever about Zeusy which would be incredibly useful for us.”

She continues, “Zeusy is a lovely affectionate and intelligent dog who just needed the right support and training.”

Support from dog behaviourist Beverley Saucell

In order to fully understand and address Zeusy’s response to new people and situations and in order to prepare him for a forever home, Mayhew Clinical Consult Behaviourist, Beverley Saucell has worked closely with Zeusy to create a training programme to address his associative behaviour or reactions triggered by certain experiences.

As Beverley explains, “Without knowing Zeusy’s history, we couldn’t know what experiences he’d had around people or how much. We could see he was socially motivated but was unsure how to interact.  Our programme was to build Zeusy‘s confidence and help with improving his uncertainty. The main feature of Zeusy’s training was about making it fun. Play was the focus to help him overcome his issues.”

She continues, “We worked on strengthening Zeusy’s bonds with people by giving him choices about approaching. We used rewards-based training by giving him praise, treats and toys when he showed courage when engaging with people.  This then encouraged Zeusy to offer more of the behaviour we were looking for. Zeusy is very trainable and biddable and would do well in a fun-loving home.”

Please don’t judge a dog by how they look

Zeusy has been taught to resist the temptation to follow unwanted behaviour and has focused on positive learning techniques such as how to say “hi” to people by using his nose. This has enabled him to meet people in a controlled yet still positive way.

As Merryn Walker explains, “Teaching Zeusy to say “hi” with his nose is a fun way to bond with him and it’s lovely to see him react like this. He just needs an owner to give him the time and patience he really deserves after having been neglected and abandoned by whoever owned him. We all have different personalities, some of us like to be reserved whilst others like to be the life and soul of the party. Bull breeds have a tendency to be stigmatised from the way they look to how they’ve been portrayed in the media. Please don’t judge a dog by how it looks, just like we shouldn’t judge a human by how they look.”

”Zeusy is a smart and loving dog who we hope to find a loving forever home for so he isn’t alone this Christmas. That would be heartbreaking for the team at Mayhew. Ideally, we’d like to find him a rural or semi-rural home, away from the hustle and bustle of city life, where he can enjoy his walks in quieter surroundings. If someone feels they could make a difference to a Zeusy, please get in touch with Mayhew.”

If you think you could offer Zeusy a forever home, please contact Mayhew for more information.