The ‘butter wouldn’t melt’ pooch with a dangerous split personality

The owner of a Jack Russell has said most time she looks like “butter wouldn’t melt” but, in an instant, can turn into a snarling bundle of fur.

Nicole Hammer is a canine behaviourist who has had to admit defeat with one pooch that matters the most – her own.

Noushka is a clever, quick to learn pup who sleeps at least 12 hours every night and does not even complain when dressed up as a gnome, North Wales Live reports.

However, she has two sides to her desire, said Nicole, aged 57, originally from Germany.

After a number of recent attacks on neighbours’ dogs in her home village of Anglesey, Nicole is pleading for help.

“Everyone says, ah, she is so sweet, so cute, she’s lovely,” she said.

“She charms just about everyone. She really is great with people.

“But when another dog so much as growls, she flies into a fury. She always has done.

“It’s the terrier DNA. She has a dark side, a nasty streak.”

Matters came to a head this week when Noushka ran into her neighbour’s garden just as visitors were arriving.

She leaped into their car and latched onto an elderly dog. It was several minutes before Nicole could prize her off of her.

Nicole with Noushka, who dog who can turn from an angel one minute to a snarling bundle of fury the next

Then yesterday, there was another unfortunate incident in the village.

Taken out for a walk, Noushka Buster, a dog owned attacked by one of her neighbours.

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As he tried to separate them, he injured his back.

“I felt so bad,” Nicole said. “He is a lovely man and I enjoy talking to him when we meet with our dogs.

“As he limped away, I said I was sorry but he just told me to leave it. He was so annoyed!”

Nicole bought Noushka as a newborn pup after she was advertised on Facebook by farm-based breeders in Bryngwran.

She wanted a Border Collie but had to compromise as, initially, she had to half-share it with a friend.

Little did she realize then how the little bundle of fur – Noushka is a rough-coated Jack Russell – would become so much trouble.

Nicole, who trained as a behaviourist in her native Germany, began training her new pup.

A setback came when Noushka – Russian for “blessed” – developed a penchant for chasing sheep.

It took time – and help from a neighboring farmer – but Nicole eventually schooled her dog to ignore livestock.

“Now you can walk her through a flock of sheep and she doesn’t even look at them,” she said.

Noushka is fine with people, she's patient and doesn't grumble if in cage
Noushka is fine with people, she’s patient and doesn’t grumble if in cage

By the time Noushka was 18 months-old, Nicole realized she had trouble on her hands.

After her dog attacked a poodle in Newborough, Noushka seemed to develop a “poodle fixation”: they soon became her primary targets.

Regardless, Nicole persevered with her training and seemed to be making progress.

But then another attack came three months ago and two more this week.

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“As a canine behaviourist, it’s embarrassing,” she said.

“I have had much success with other dogs but not this one.

“In Germany, other trainers say not to worry, they all have a terrier in the cellar. This means they all know you will one day get a terrier that is untrainable.”

By now she had discovered her dog’s bloodline owed much to Anglesey’s hunting and ratting traditions.

It gave Noushka, now aged four, a love of chasing down rabbits. Her abiding passion for her, however, are rats: a trial run-out at a farm yielded a bag full of dead rodents.

Nicole just wishes she could shelve her instinct with other dogs.

“She latches onto dogs with her mouth but she doesn’t draw blood,” said Nicole.

“People think she biting their dogs but it’s all snarls and saliva.

“However a friend told me it won’t be long before I am reported to the police, so I must do something.

“I can’t walk through the village and tell people I am giving her away – they will think I am terrible, I am cruel.

“But that may have to be my last option.”

How Noushka looks like normally - and after she's been ratting, something she's particularly good at
How Noushka looks like normally – and after she’s been ratting, something she’s particularly good at

Keeping Noushka permanently on a lead, or muzzled, is possible but this is not ideal as she is such a young and energetic dog.

Having taken advice from her vets, Nicole took to Facebook to appeal to local farmers and smallholders who may be in need of a good ratter.

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It could be on a when-needed basis. But, ultimately, Nicole is looking to part-share the dog. Her elderly mother’s health is declining in Germany and at some point Nicole plans a two-month visit to look after her.

“So it would have to be someone willing to take on the dog for longer periods,” said Nicole.

“I’m willing to pay for insurance, dog food on so on. Noushka is well trained and she does not go after livestock.”

An alternative is an arrangement with the owner of several dogs, even a pack, as Noushka behaves herself when outnumbered.

Nicole is also willing to try other behaviorists – she’s been recommended a few.

Failing this, the only other option is to find a new owner to take the dog on permanently.

“Most of the time she is lovely – she even loves our postman!” said Nicole.

“But I have to be straight with people, she has two sides to her personality with that terrier aggression.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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