AN abandoned dog who could only understand German commands has now learned English in a bid to find a new home.
The canine, an American bulldog named Hector, was found tied to the gates of an RSPCA animal centre with cigarette burns on his body on August 1.
After finding out that the car of the man who abandoned Hector had foreign number plates, staff at the centre tried a number of languages and realised he responded to German.
The dog, described as "intelligent and loving", has been training at the RSCPA Leeds, Wakefield, and District centre in West Yorkshire ever since, and has now learned to respond to English.
The RSPCA is hoping to find the "big baby", who weighs six stone, a new home, despite the fact he still struggles to trust new people.
Lucynda Hodgson, animal care manager at the centre, said Hector was left wearing a hefty muzzle and tied up with a heavy chain lead that was so short he could barely lie down.
"He'd twisted the lead tighter and tighter around his neck and couldn't move at all," she said.
"He wasn't responding to any English commands so, given the foreign plates on the car, we decided to try some different languages and it emerged he was actually quite well trained and knew several commands – in German.
"We started to introduce him to English words and used hand signals alongside verbal commands so he started to pick it up really quickly.
"He's a very intelligent dog and is very loving.
"He's a big baby really; he loves to gallop around the paddock and play with his giant tennis balls. He's so lovable and is such a gentle giant."
SEARCHING FOR A NEW HOME
Staff believe Hector previously had little exposure to the outside world, and say he initially seemed shocked by things like traffic and strangers, but that he's slowly adapting.
Lucynda added: "He definitely has a negative association with smokers, which confirms our suspicion that he's been burned using a cigarette.
"We have two smokers here and they are the only members of staff that he can be unsure of. The only similarity between them and the only reason for him to be nervous is that they both smoke."
She said that the centre is now searching for a new home for Hector, and that he will need new owners who are able to visit him regularly to build up a relationship before taking him home.
He also weighs 40kg, so staff say he would ideally go to a home experienced with large breeds.
"He'd like a calm and quiet home without too many visitors and must go to a non-smoking, adult-only family," Lucynda said.
"He would also benefit from further socialisation with other dogs so would be best as an only pet with owners who can slowly introduce him to new dogs.
"He'd love a rural home with a large, secure garden to gallop around and explore.
"He loves nothing more than a good game of ball and then a relaxing cuddle and tummy scratch in his kennel or a delicious chew to gnaw on."
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