A pesky pooch too troublesome to qualify as a guide dog is becoming an all too regular customer at a Cheshire veterinary practice after scoffing things he shouldn’t. Denning the three-year-old Golden Retriever has already snaffled his way through two pairs of spectacles and countless pens in the space of just 18 months.
His latest inedible snack was part of a plastic walking stick that got wedged in his stomach leaving him needing surgery. Denning is no stranger to staff at Winsford Veterinary Surgery, part of the Willows Vet Group, where his long rap sheet includes being wired up to a drip for three days after gobbling medication spray.
Instead of enjoying their retirement, his exasperated owners Yvonne and Jeff Daulby are busy making sure any foreign objects are removed from Denning’s path. The couple, from Winsford, took him on after he was constantly being passed from home to home since failing to make the grade as a guide dog – his shortest stint lasting just 24 hours.
Grandmother Yvonne said despite keeping them on their toes with his costly escapades, Denning is a “beautiful dog with a beautiful nature.” She said: “Denning initially started his life as a guide dog puppy, bred by Guide Dogs for the Blind. It was during Covid so when it came to training, they only took the most responsive pups that they knew they could train quickly.
“Denning is not responsive and they knew it was going to take a lot of work, he just didn’t have what it takes. He’s a beautiful dog with a beautiful nature but they just had to say no to him becoming a guide dog as it would be quicker for them to train two or three dogs than it would to train him.
He was put up for rehoming and in the meantime, we’d lost our Golden Retriever and I’d got over it enough to have another one, but not in time to save him, or what went on afterwards.” Yvonne said that Denning was puppy-walked by a couple in Yorkshire but “rebelled” when he went into kennels.
“To cut a long story short, after around 10 placements, he kept coming back – the shortest time being just 24 hours,” the grandmother-of-four said. “He would bark incessantly and the more stressed he got, the more bad habits he picked up so he ended up coming to us with a very long list of problems.
“Now the two main issues he has are scavenging and swallowing things he shouldn’t.” Yvonne recalled a trip to the Lake District last year where no sooner had they got there, they were rushing to a veterinary hospital in Lancaster where Denning spent three days on a drip after getting hold of Jeff’s medication spray from the cupboard.
“He was very lucky to survive,” Yvonne said. “More recently, my husband had a new walking stick and as he was altering the height, he dropped the fitting and before we knew it, Denning swallowed it and he ended up having extensive surgery. He’s made a full recovery but he’s already up to his old tricks.”
Vet Olivia Antony who has worked for the Willows Group for almost two years, said: “Denning came in after his owner had seen him eat the bit of the walking stick while they were trying to adjust it. He’d not been able to pass it through and had started to be sick, which set off alarm bells for us suggesting there’s a blockage in his system.
“We did an X-ray and you could see it in his stomach because it had a metal bolt holding the plastic bits in place so it showed up really well on the screen. We had to do surgery to remove the item and Denning was hospitalised for a few days because it was quite a big operation.
“He’s doing really well now and he’s all back to his normal lovely, happy self again so it was all good news in the end.” Olivia said Denning had form for doing “daft things” but was very lovable and always happy to come to the vets despite his frequent need for treatment and she counselled people to never feel worried about calling their vets for advice.
“If pets do eat anything they shouldn’t, owners should always let their vets know sooner rather than later,” she said. “We’d always much rather people call, we know sometimes people may be embarrassed or worry about being judged, but we’d prefer people to tell us what their pets have eaten so we can advise best from there and prevent complications due to a delay.”
Meanwhile, Yvonne and Jeff, who have been helping the guide dog charity since 1968, said they have to watch Denning 24/7. Their experience with dogs and the thought of Denning having to spend the rest of his life in kennels is what persuaded them to take him in.
But while the pair have got a handle on most of his other problems, they can’t even relax in their own home because Denning will “always find something” to scoff, whether it’s munching through plants, chewing cushion covers or rooting out cat poo in the garden.
However, regardless of his naughty streak, Yvonne said Denning is a “fabulous-natured dog” who loves children and is a “big gentle giant.” Yvonne confessed to being in the process of seeking help from a pet behaviourist adding: “Even though we’ve always known dogs and how to train them, you’ve got to admit when you’ve got something that’s a little different.
“Denning is a real character, but we could do without this. He certainly keeps us occupied.”