We are up in the Poconos this weekend and Oreo is loving it! It’s so quiet and peaceful here. My parents have a vacation home on a small lake, so no motor boats, no jet skis, nothing loud. The neighbors usually don’t come up much and after summer we don’t see many people at all.
We headed around town and did the local Walmart trip (that’s really the ONLY store around that has clothing or anything for people up here), and walked around the little town. Oreo and I went for a walk around the neighborhood.
Some of the leaves are starting to change, I found one that looked like it was on fire!
We decided to turn down the hiking trail for a while. There were many trees down from storms, and lots of good smells for Oreo. On the way back to the road, I was deciding whether we should cut through the woods or head back to the road. There was a family that has a history of letting their dogs run around without leashes (and they don’t have reliable recall). When Oreo was a puppy we had a run in with 2 of their dogs. I heard them outside, but didn’t really want to cut through the brush.As I was contemplating, Oreo must have read my mind. She started heading to the left in the direct place I was thinking of cutting through the brush.
O well, looks like she made my decision for me!
So, I’m sitting her typing this up, looking out on the lake with Oreo on the recliner next to me. She’s wrapped up in blankets,curled in a ball taking a nap. Relaxing is good.
Oreo and I went to the park this morning. It was a crisp, fall-like day. The cool air blew on us as we meandered down the path. I spotted a dog off leash and a courteous man who circumnavigated around us to the spot where they would play frisbee. We enjoyed our romp around the park and Oreo found a delightful stick to chew on that was 3 times her length. She laid down and watched dogs around 25 feet away pass.
Old Oreo (before the dog attack) would have loved to meet and romp and play. Apprehensive Oreo was fine just watching and chewing on her stick at a distance. It was nice to have quiet and peace. Rarely do we get to enjoy the little things in life, but as we sat there I pondered everything we are missing as we work the daily grind each day. The wonderful smell of fall filled my nostrils and locals passed by who I see every weekend at the park, waving their cheerful hello. The whole time Oreo was enjoying her stick in the shade while the breeze enveloped us.
Hardly do we get to enjoy any peace during the week. We work, come home, cook, eat, take the dog for a walk, shower, then we might have an hour to wind down before we go to sleep. Then we have to do it all over again. There has got to be a better way, a better way to enjoy life, make a living, and be able to cherish the little things in life…all within 24 hours a day.
When I arrived home my husband and I went for a long walk. We walked around neighborhoods and into a nice open park. It was amazing how calm Oreo was when a dog across the street barked its head off as we passed. Not only was that dog barking, but a dog on our side of the street in a house started barking. Oreo didn’t lunge, didn’t bark back, just kept on walking. Was she bothered? Yeah, I’m sure she was…but instead of resorting to her old tactics of handling stress she looked at us for treats and scooted ahead…like a walk in the park.
Nobody really knows what it’s like to have a reactive dog unless you have had one. It feels lonely sometimes, like you are the only one paddling in a boat with no sign of any shorelines. On your journey people may have passed you in boats telling you that you need to force the current to go with you, you must push the water to do your bidding. You decide to try pushing the water with all of your will, yet you make no progress. In fact it seems as if you fall back further than where you started. Instead you don’t force the water because you realize nothing can be forced in life, water has a life of its own. You paddle making progress, yet you have setbacks when storms arise. When you decide to set goals and take the time to get there when the water is ready to work with you, instead of endlessly paddling in a panic against the currents, you realize there is a shoreline in the distance. You open your eyes and realize you aren’t alone and that there are more people out in the water with you. Instead of passing you, the people seem to be on the same journey as you…working with the water to one day get to the shoreline. You share strategies on paddling and working with the current and suddenly it’s like a weight lifts off of your shoulders. You no longer feel alone, you no longer feel hopeless. You will get to the shoreline. If it’s not the shoreline with the beautiful pink sand, at least it can be the shoreline with the palm trees.
Never give up helping your reactive dog. Find a way you can work together, instead of forcing them to do what you want. You are not alone, find others-trainers, behaviorists, online groups, blogs, etc. Nobody really knows what it’s like to be a reactive dog mom or dad, but you don’t have to paddle alone.
A Fearful Dog Speaks
by Kevin Myers
You see me in the shelters and the rescues, hanging back from the front of the cage, eyes averted yet alert with fear and apprehension. My carriage is the result of a story that you may never know, yet I still need your understanding. I need you to understand that:
You may not be the human for me. Although my eyes seem to plead for a home, I am not easy to live with. My progress is often measured in months and years not days and weeks.
My fears are not silly. No matter how they seem to you, my fears are real to me. Forcing me to face something that you think is silly only serves to increase my fear and adds to my distrust.
My life needs routine. More than most, I need routine. It comforts me to know that there are certain things I can count on.
Patience is not a virtue, it’s a requirement. Of all the tools you will need to help me, patience is above all.
You may need help. I am not like other dogs and some of the things that work on them may not work on me. You may need the help of people who have experience with fearful dogs like me.
Others may judge you because of my fear. People will often assume that you have done something to me if they see me acting fearful. You must be able to ignore this.
I may never be the dog you want me to be. Despite all your best efforts and intentions I may never be the dog that you envision. But I can promise you that the victories we share, both large and small, will feel like nothing else in the world.