When Roscoe, my beloved hound died, I was convinced that Nellie, my other dog , needed a new companion. All of us were sad, but, she seemed especially devastated. When she wouldn’t even leave the couch for snacks, I felt I needed to do something. So, I set about finding the perfect dog, the “new Roscoe”. I diligently searched and of course gravitated towards the floppy eared athletic type. We set up appointments and with great excitement took Nellie to meet “the One”. The first dog was a a Catahoula hound mix. So cool! First the humans met him, we were all on board, then we brought Nellie up and SURPRISE!!! she wouldn’t even look at him. No worries, just not a good match, keep looking!
Well, we went through a series of rejections and finally Nellie upped her game. She made her feelings completely clear to me the afternoon we went to meet another “perfect match”. We were in a 8 x 10 or so penned in area, this eager young male came running up to her, with 1 message… I want to hump you! But Nellie was in control, she gave all the appropriate signals and he actually stopped, things were looking up. Nellie walked up to him and did the doggy hello (aka butt sniff!) . Now we were really hopeful. Then, Nellie looked right at me and I could hear the thought in her head, “really!?!? What are you thinking!!??” Then she turned and walked straight to the gate.
Her little thought bubble said “open the damn door!”
Poor Nellie, she had to pound it in to me , she wasn’t interested in Roscoe lookalike or replacement. We can’t replace our furry friends anymore than we can stay frozen in time. Life moves along, bringing changes and challenges and new joys. That is what finally happened. A friend found a lab/pitt puppy that needed a home. I agreed to foster and all of us, including Nellie, fell in love. Roscoe was the love of her life, he is gone. Now she wanted, perhaps needed, to be Mamma to a rambunctious goof ball.
I did resist for a bit, I thought a puppy was OUT of the question. Sure, I am careening towards an empty nest with my son about to get his license, that implies more free time. But, from my perspective, I didn’t have that time! I have so much to do with running the business and family life. As it turned out, Otis had been through some kind of puppy class, he knew a lot for a 5 month old, plus he IS NOT a hound, so guess what, he actually gets tired and he is super smart so expanding on that training is pretty easy.
So I made it official and adopted him and I have been really enjoying working with Otis. After a month or so, I realized something … something big for a trainer. I was remarking to my husband how it ONLY took 3 weeks to teach him to automatically take his “place” while I cook and we have our meals. He replied, 3 WHOLE weeks ? That was NOT easy!! And there it is. More perspective. Most people think 3 weeks is a long time, my perspective is that classical conditioning takes a lot of time, so if I can get it done in 30 minute sessions over a few weeks, I celebrate. I realized that despite all the information on dog training in the media and maybe because of it, we all have a different idea of how a dog goes from puppy to delightful adult dog.
One thing I think is true for all of us, our dogs can teach US something every day, and from my perspective, that is a wonderful thing.