When shetland sheepdog Anton arrived at Stefany and Terry Knight's doorstep to start a new life, he was a quivering wreck.
But with lots of love and patience, he slowly grew in confidence - and has now won one of the main awards in a dog show.
The couple, from Raumati Beach, on the Kāpiti Coast, took ownership of Anton when he was 13 months old, after his breeder contacted them.
Things hadn't worked out at his first home for various reasons including that he couldn't be a show dog because one of his testicles hadn't descended.
The couple, who'd had the breed before, agreed to bring Anton into their family fold and give him a second chance.
"He turned up at our front door in a very distressed state," Stefany said.
He had the shakes, his coat was harsh and wiry, and he
refused to eat by himself.
"I actually had to lay down on the floor and hand feed him for the first three weeks.
"Then suddenly one day he decided 'I think I quite like these people, I think I might eat now'."
Another issue was Anton refused to walk through doorways.
"We had to use a lead and gradually encourage him to walk through doors."
And Anton hated being groomed, so it was a slow gradual process aided with the extra incentive involving a few edible treats.
"It has taken him a long time to accept being groomed but he's got there, which is great."
The couple also had Anton neutered soon after they got him, because of his testicle situation.
The couple's interest was piqued when Dogs New Zealand announced that neutered dogs would be allowed to participate in
They decided to enter Anton in Upper Hutt Kennel Association's dog show in the Purina Pro Plan Wellington Exhibition Centre in Porirua.
shows, Anton won the neutered working group and went on to win best neuter in show.
"I was just so excited and couldn't believe it really.
"And he was up against tough competition as well including a samoyed, a weimaraner and a couple of others.
"From where he has come from, it is quite remarkable really what he's managed to achieve."
Anton, now aged 6, received a rosette, a new bed, and large bag of food for his efforts.
The couple are now keen to enter Anton in more dog shows.
"He's halfway towards becoming a champion."
But in the meantime Anton is lapping up his achievement and taking it easy by playing with his toys including a squeaky penguin.