Bella Relf and her soldier partner openly admit that they’re one of those couples who unashamedly call their hound their ‘baby’. We caught up with ‘mum’ to find out how they try their best to make every move easy for him…

“We’ve moved twice with Duke, our Rhodesian Ridgeback cross Mastiff, and both times we have tried different tactics to make him feel comfortable.

Duke’s kingdom

“Duke has lived in three different quarters with us and each one has had a garden which proved to be an utter nightmare – a three-foot-high chicken wire fence does not keep a big dog in! Nor does it keep a little one out; which we found out when Duke was attacked by a small terrier which somehow managed to draw blood from my six stone dog through the fence. So we’ve always made sure our garden is secure within a few days of moving in.

“He’s a sensitive soul so we keep all the loud banging for when he’s out on a walk and, because he barks at the sound of a squirrel’s fart 100 metres away, we let our new neighbours know we have a big but harmless hound.

A comfy spot
“We found the best way to keep Duke happy while we moved to a new house was to make sure that, no matter what state the house was in, Duke had a comfy place to sit and watch the chaos.

“He’s a sensitive soul so we keep all the loud banging for when he’s out on a walk and, because he barks at the sound of a squirrel’s fart 100 metres away, we let our new neighbours know we have a big but harmless hound. We assure them the barking will calm down once he’s relaxed.

“We never change his bowl, bed or blanket until we have been in the new house for a little while and we make sure
we know where to go for off-lead time. Sometimes I think he settles into a new home quicker than we do!”

Read Duke’s take on army life on page 70 of this spring’s Army&You or click here.

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