A while back, I posted about this incredible desire I had to make a difference somewhere, somehow, not really knowing what for or what to do. I have been doing a little soul searching and spiritual journeying, and an old passion has arisen that I thought long dead: working with dogs who have behaviour issues.
I am an avid Dog Whisperer viewer, which – admittingly – has helped spur on this desire to work with canines again. But this is not where it started. Back before high school, my family moved us to a farm about 30 minutes outside of the city, near a small town. I didn’t really like it, but adapted anyway. We started out with 2 dogs (both Labradors), progressively moving up to 6 (Labs mostly, with one Poodle and one German Shepard). It was apparent we all had a propensity toward having a pack and rehabilitating rescues and worst case scenarios, so when we learned of New Hope Dog Rescue, we agreed together to offer us up as a foster home.
As a foster home on a farm with lots of space and plenty of time, we took on mostly the worst cases. Because we had a really good pack who knew that we were the pack leaders, it was very beneficial for the foster dogs, both in their physical rehabilitation and socialization skills. My dad basically ensured they were fed and had a hug dog run and plenty of exercise. My mom provided mostly affection and love galore!! My job was the actual rehabilitation and socialization. Our job as foster families were to bring the dogs to a place where they could be adopted and to train the adoptive families with their new pack member. It was not always easy, but we were extremely successful and it was a huge passion and reward for me.
Unfortunately, all good things had to come to an end when we left the farm. For a year or so after leaving the farm, I was dogless; dog lovers out there will understand the emptiness that comes in here. I was discouraged and felt a lack of purpose, which as filled with more schooling and working a lot. About 2 and 1/2 years ago, I got my lovely Cocker Spaniel, Morpheous. It was an absolutely wonderful time for me and a trying time for my now husband. I, unfortunately, did not think of the repercussions this decision would have on my relationship and my new puppy.
My first mistake: buying a puppy only to fill a missing part of me, not remembering all the tools I had during fostering, which created instability in my dog. I gave affection, affection, and more affection, mostly to fulfill a deep need in me. I forgot to put the needs of my new, impressionable pup first. He lived for almost 2 years allowed to get away with almost anything. I have had to work tirelessly the past 6 months to help him come back to being a balanced pup.
My second mistake: not preparing my now husband for the introduction of a new animal. It created a lot of tension for a while, and has taken the entire 2 and 1/2 years to get to a mutual understanding and love for the dog. I am happy to say that, since I have begun putting the actual needs of my dog and my husband first, we have a great household atmosphere!!
With all this happening, I have offered up my experience in dog behaviour and people training to various friends and strangers, and the outcomes have been encouraging to say the least. Over the next little while, I am going to be writing posts about the experiences with this furry friends and their owners. What I am hoping is to give hope to the various dog owners out there who have behavioural issues with their canine companions, and maybe some direction. This will also hopefully be a good reminder to the people I am working with on keeping their calm while rehabilitating their pets.