Dog trainer Melissa Bruce, right, with Angela McQuillan and Mike Moore with their great danes Annie, left, and Daisy.
Dog trainer Melissa Bruce, right, with Angela McQuillan and Mike Moore with their great danes Annie, left, and Daisy. Geoff Potter

Saved from utter neglect

THE saying “it’s a dog’s life” couldn’t have two more contrasting definitions than highlighted by the plights of Daisy and Annie.

The great dane and great dane-cross are now part of a loving family in Sunshine Beach, but for the first few years of their lives, things weren’t quite so positive.

New owners Angela McQuillan and Mike Moore found both dogs through a dog rescue website.

“We got Daisy in mid-January off a rescue website,” Ms McQuillan says. “Daisy had been at the pound for some time and had developed some wild behaviour.

“We got Annie about a month after. She was about eight months old when we got her.

“She was shocking. She was so underweight – so much so that you couldn’t see her eyes properly as, according to her vet, even the fat pockets behind her eyes were depleted.

“She was severely dehydrated and had bad skin conditions. And she was deaf.

“When I saw her, I was just devastated and distressed that we weren’t going to be able to take her on.”

All that trauma meant that even with the best intentions, Ms McQuillan may not have been able to care for Daisy and Annie.

Thankfully, she found a dog behaviourist on the Sunshine Coast able to take on the challenge of two large and often feisty but also extremely damaged dogs, and help them to integrate into their new family.

Ms McQuillan contacted Melissa Bruce, the owner of Clever Paws, a dog behavioural business, to see if she could help and allow Ms McQuillan to take on the huge responsibility.

“We decided we would get Melissa to assess Annie and to see if we could work with her,” Ms McQuillan said.

“We decided if she was responsive to Melissa, then we would rescue her. We knew we could do it with the help of Melissa.”

With six years’ experience running Clever Paws and an extensive background in training, trialling and behavioural studies, Ms Bruce was confident she could help the dogs escape their pasts and enjoy happier lives, but even she admits she was shocked by the state she found Annie in.

“It took about 10 minutes for me to be able to safely get her out of the backyard,” Ms Bruce said.

“Not only had she been severely neglected as was evident with her weighing about half her normal body weight, she had injuries around her neck from obvious attempts to escape her old yard from severe separation anxiety.”

Both Daisy and Annie presented similar challenges for Ms Bruce and their owners, including separation anxiety, lack of confidence away from their own backyards and the fact that they had lived their whole lives with no basic training or socialising with people and other dogs that is essential for developing healthy, happy dogs.

“For Annie, the vet said we couldn’t walk her or push her too much at the start as her muscles hadn’t developed properly,” Ms McQuillan said.

“However, now she is doing walking training with Melissa and she is walking on a lead properly and eating really well.

“In the early days, she struggled to socialise and wasn’t house-trained.

“Melissa has helped fixed this. Melissa just understands dogs. She understands their behaviour and how they react.”

Phone 0428 816 529 or visit

Lifeguard commended for bravery in drowning tragedy

premium_icon Lifeguard commended for bravery in drowning tragedy

Lifeguard praised by police for attempting to save man.

Council 'didn't listen' on City Square plans

premium_icon Council 'didn't listen' on City Square plans

"They didn't listen to us whatsoever,” committee chair said.

‘Zoe’s Law’ conscience vote could happen tomorrow

premium_icon ‘Zoe’s Law’ conscience vote could happen tomorrow

Law would make it a crime to harm or kill baby from 24 weeks on

Local Partners