Dog who only understood German has learnt English in bid to find new home

An American bulldog who was abandoned at the gates of an RSPCA centre and understood only German training commands has learnt English in a bid to find a new home.

One-year-old Hector was abandoned outside RSPCA Leeds, Wakefield & District branch in East Ardsley on 1 August. CCTV showed a car pull up with what appeared to be foreign number plates before a driver got out, got Hector out and tied him up.

A car with foreign plates pulled up outside the RSPCA centre and left Hector tied to the gates Credit: RSPCA

Lucynda Hodgson, animal care manager at the centre, said: “He’d been dumped with a hefty muzzle on and had been 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.”They finally managed to free him and get him to kennels where staff assessed him and found he had burns - thought to have been caused by a cigarette - all over his body. “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!” Lucynda added. “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.”Staff believe he’s had little exposure to the outside world as he initially seemed rather shocked by everyday things such as traffic and strangers but he’s slowly learning more and more.Lucynda added: “All of the staff here absolutely love him but 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.”Hector still finds it difficult meeting and trusting new people so will need new owners who can make regular visits to meet him before building up enough confidence to take him home. He weighs 40kg and is a big, strong dog so staff would ideally like him to 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.

Hector has now learnt English and is looking for a new home Credit: RSPCA

"Hector can get a little upset being left alone so we’d ask his new owners to teach him gradually that being home alone isn’t scary,” Lucynda added. “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.“He’s a very clever lad who absolutely loves treats so is very easy to train - especially now he’s picked up English! He’d love to learn more commands, tricks and skills.”