Last updated: 21 Mar, 2023
Published on: 2 May, 2022
Sven & Benji: Twice the Love!
Julie, her husband Jim and their teenage daughter live in Melbourne. Julie jokes that her daughter had a ‘long-term strategy’ to wear her parents down to the idea of adopting a pet! Her daughter contacted and visited a number of rescue groups to make sure she was armed with lots of information - one day, she even spent eight hours hanging out with different pets at an RSPCA branch!
Deciding to adopt Benji
Over time, Julie and Jim went from strictly ‘no pets’ to ‘which type of pet are we getting?’ Success! Eventually, on one of her days spent browsing PetRescue for her new best friend, Julie’s daughter came across sweetheart Benji who was listed via Pet Haven. The family’s first impressions of him were that he looked like he had a cheerful and friendly demeanour, and they liked that Benji was a larger dog with lots of energy, as they knew they had the time, space and resources to give him the attention and training he needed.
Benji had gone from the pound into a shelter environment but had never lived in a home before. He was still young and full of energy. He’d never walked on a lead before and he wasn’t housetrained which was too much for several other adopters who’d met him. The first few weeks with Benji in the house weren’t a walk in the park. Benji was full of beans and chewed everything in sight. The family began contacting trainers and researching online and at the library on how best to settle him in and how to make the environment safe for him straight away. Introducing structure into Benji’s life and providing him with enrichment, like cardboard boxes that he was allowed to rip up, really helped. The family provided positive reinforcement for good behaviour instead of punishment which helped build trust.
Julie recommends taking a long-term view when welcoming a rescue pet into your home, and ensuring you’re consistent when it comes to their training. She and her family were able to provide a calm, safe and structured environment, with consistent and clear communication as well as plenty of enrichment. She says it’s essential to be realistic and prepare for some challenges, but ultimately Benji has brought so much to her and her family’s lives.
‘The key is lots and lots of patience and reasonable, but high expectations for the stage you and your dog are at. The ultimate goals are that the pet is able to control their emotions, understands what behaviour is expected and can safely be included in all aspects of your life.
The benefits to owners are a wonderful loving, trusting, understanding partnership with your pet - who is truly one of the family.’ - Julie.
Growing their family - welcoming Sven
After a year of having Benji in their lives, Julie and her daughter were really pleased with his improved behaviour after all their hard work together. They decided they wanted to introduce a kitty into the fold, telling Julie’s husband that Benji wanted a cat friend - which worked!
Julie and her family initially planned to adopt a kitten. However, after taking Benji to meet some kitties at a rescue, it was clear that they’d be too spooked by a dog, having never been around them before. They learnt that adult cats find it much harder to find homes than kittens and felt they could provide a great loving home to an adult cat. They also loved that an adult cat comes with an established personality, making it easier for the rescue group to suggest a good match for their lifestyle and for Benji. This is when they found adorable boy Sven’s profile on PetRescue via Maneki Neko! They appreciated how detailed and honest his description was, and loved the great photos his foster carer had taken, which showcased his purr-sonality! Julie says it’s important to match the pet’s profile with your own profile and situation, instead of just focusing on their appearance - and we couldn’t agree more.
‘’Initially, we went looking at kittens, because we thought that a kitten would adapt to the situation better. We soon realised that so many people want a kitten, but older cats find it much harder to find homes. Knowing the temperament of the cat was the key to predicting how it would work with Benji, and the rescue group was able to give us much more information about the temperament and experiences of an adult cat, than a kitten.’’ - Julie
Introducing Sven to Benji
When they first took him home, Sven was set up in a quiet room where he had two locked doors between him and Benji so he could get comfortable in his own time. Julie, Jim and their daughter took it in turns to very slowly come in and spend time with Sven and play with him if he was interested and slowly increased the space he had available to him. They then started walking Benji on a lead outside the window so that Sven could see him from a distance, then they met through the screen door, and after a lot of time and patience, they met indoors with Benji on the lead, with lots of treats for his good behaviour (including ignoring Sven and remaining calm!) Sven was very comfortable and confident at this first meeting and now loves snuggling up next to Benji.
‘’Sven is absolutely obsessed with Benji now, and loves standing underneath him hoping for a kiss on the head, and they love rolling a ball to each other!’’ - Julie
Sven and Benj’s Furry-tail Ending
The family adopted Sven just before the pandemic started, and absolutely loved being able to spend time with the boys during lockdowns (and they definitely weren’t complaining about all the attention either!) Julie says the best advice she received was to treat both pets equally, and says to anyone considering adopting a second pet;
‘’It’s such a great thing to be able to give a safe and loving home to a second pet, but it’s really important to have reasonable expectations and ensure the pet’s temperaments are the right fit.’’
Check out more adorable photos of Sven and Benji at their Instagram @svenandbenji.
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