Failed Foster Alert – The Story of Nelson

Nelson came into the care of The Labrador Rescue Trust through no real fault of his own – he just found himself in the wrong home where he was just too big and boisterous. At 12 months old he was already 31kgs and rather partial to giving visitors an enthusiastic greeting….and the more he was ignored….the more frustrated and enthusiastic he got with his jumping up and mouthing!

As a Volunteer for The Labrador Rescue Trust, I regularly foster dogs and particularly enjoy working with the young boisterous boys who need a bit of training before they can be rehomed. So I happily agreed to foster Nelson.

He is undoubtedly one of the tallest Labradors I have every seen, with great long legs and a stride to match. And although his former home had done some basic training, he was just at the adolescent stage where, with all the physical and neurological changes he was undergoing connected to this life phase, he thought he knew it all and could do what he liked!

Although he appeared to be a confident dog, he was actually quite anxious and initially very clingy around the house, so needed lots of reassurance and a bit of time to adjust to his new surroundings and to process the huge change in his life, before we started any training.

He was particularly fond of lying on my feet!

I have 4 working bred Labradors of my own, all are trained gundogs and they do a lot of the basic work for me. It’s almost as though they are saying “this is the way we do things around here”. And so it was with Nelson – it was really interesting to see him taking his cues from them about life in our house – and as he settled in, his character began to emerge…..he is particularly fond of a cuddle!

He just loves a cuddle!

He particularly loves to snuggle up to another dog! He particularly loves to snuggle up with another dog!













My dogs are all trained to the whistle and whilst most of the dogs that I foster quickly copy this – Nelson had other ideas! He clearly saw no real value in coming back to me thinking that it probably signaled lead-time and the end of the walk and found much more fun in finding his own rewards – particularly hunting out new friends. He is a very sociable dog and if he sees another person or dog in the distance he is off….and boy can he cover the ground! Although he is very friendly, it is rather an alarming sight when he is approaching at full steam, so it became very clear that we needed to start from our training from scratch and work hard on our recall.

He has been a delight to train with

And so we started with the basics and I was absolutely delighted with his progress.

He is a very bright boy and enjoys the mental stimulation of training, but does get bored easily so training sessions have been short and varied and we play lots of games to keep his interest. And he absolutely LOVES retrieving things and learned very quickly that presenting things to hand when we are training means lots of praise and reward… he likes to practice all the time!

But overall, he picked it all up so quickly and so calmly I almost couldn’t believe it! Until it rained and our fields flooded and it became clear that Nelson was very nervous about the water. Again with patience and a lot of help from my “Team” he calmed down and decided to give it a go…….and soon was having a go, because he just couldn’t bear to be left out of the fun!

Nelson makes a Splash

I had been looking for another young dog to adopt and train as a gundog, but it wasn’t until I was updating TLRT on his progress and the sort of home that he might suit, sharing videos and pictures of us training that I realised just how well we had gelled and were working together……and how upset I would be to pass him onto another home!

So, Nelson is now a permanent part of the family and gets on famously with all the others. He’s affectionate and loving, friendly and sociable, bright and trainable, loves a cuddle with everyone!

I love him to bits, but I can see that he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea – he sometimes forgets just how big he is, has loads of energy and no apparent “off” button!

A Masterclass in teaching that barking does not work!

I am so excited to see how he develops – he has already graduated from his reward based Foundation Gundog class and is now in the Novice Group where he is learning lots of new skills with the distraction of other dogs doing interesting things!

Sally – Volunteer for The Labrador Rescue Trust

We would like to say a big Thank You to Sally for providing a Foster Home for Nelson but also for becoming a “Failed Fosterer” as Nelson was destined to stay with you as his forever home!