Big Reb

When I was 13 and my sister was 6 our mother (who had had dogs all her life) decided it was time our family had another dog. My father (brought up in Glasgow tenements and therefore with next to no knowledge about dogs) was despatched to obtain a puppy.

He returned about half a day later with a smooth haired, mainly black pup just old enough to leave his mother. He proudly presents this new family member for my mother’s inspection and was somewhat surprised when she announced “He’s going to be huge! Look at those feet”.

Time went by and little Rebel, as my sister had named him, grew…..and grew……and grew. At 6 months we realised that what we had was a cross between a Labrador and a Bismarck Boxer. In other words massive.

He was also living up to his name because he would not obey or react to any command. In fact he only reacted to “Dinner” when he ran to the kitchen and sat by his food bowl and “Walkies” when he would run to the front door and whine pathetically until he was taken out.

This situation couldn’t be allowed to continue because an out of control dog that weighed somewhere in the region of 6 stone just could not be tolerated.

One of my uncles, who served for a while with the Military Police dog unit, offered to take him for a couple of months and see what he could do with him, so Rebel was packed off and my sister and I hung around the phone every day to get updates on his progress.

On his return Rebel was a different dog. He reacted instantly to many commands, some normal ones, others the sort of thing taught to police dogs, however, just to make sure that no-one outside the family would be able to shout commands and confuse him, my uncle had taught him all commands in Gaelic. It took a while but my sister and I got the hang of it eventually.

So there we were with this wonderful, huge, mostly friendly, Gaelic speaking dog who only had one small problem. That was his return when called.

Rebel seemed to think that when called he should, of course, return to his master/mistress as fast as possible. That, of course, meant at full gallop of about 20 to 25 miles per hour and he wouldn’t even slow down until he got to you. This meant that when you had released him for a run in the field or woodland near where we lived and called him to come back, you had to be sure you kept an eye out for his arrival and take a quick step left or right to avoid getting bowled over as he arrived like a freight train.

We had Rebel for 9 years and he was an amazing dog, but we could never break him of that freight train arrival.

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