There are two camps in the domesticated animal world: cat and dog. I am firmly (and have always been) in camp dog.
Even before I got my pupper, Sala, I had a certain naïveté when it came to dogs. I believed they were all friendly and should be stopped and petted whenever possible. We (the dog and I) lock eyes, I speak ONLY to the dog and when their tails get going, I die a little bit from cuteness overload.
When I adopted Sala, I thought for sure she’d make me more social. I had lofty dreams of dog park dates with friends (so I could meet more dogs, obvs), taking her on car trips where we’d hike our way through places like Colorado and West Des Moines, going to the pet store together to get treats and toys; just really enjoying having a co-pilot. While she’s proven to be an amazing dog (who I feel lucky to be blessed with), I’ve had to rework a bit of my plan for our life together. See, I’m not sure what shifted in her or what happened in her life before me but she became a bit of a dog-aggressive-dog. It has definitely changed my ignorance-is-bliss outlook when it comes to pups.
In the last two-ish years with Sala, I’ve read a lot about how to be a better dog mom, how to work with her, how to understand her; I’ve bought a lot of stuff – and returned a lot of stuff – in an attempt to help us. Not once didn’t occur to me, though, that this might be something other dog-parents deal with. Until I started following some dog trainers on Instagram. I can’t.even.tell.you how it changed my perspective knowing there are other people who have dogs who basically defy their dog-ness and can’t be around other dogs. Reading other dog owner’s pleas for help was something I understood all too well.
I find myself wanting to apologize whenever we see another dog on a leash (yes, I do apologize to the dogs too). It’s this clumsy exchange of me uttering a surprised “oh” and then trying to refocus Sala while we turn the other direction. There’s guilt in that for me. I want to wear a sign that says, “it’s not your dog, it’s mine”. I know what I can do now is avoid situations that make her uneasy (because they make me uneasy too). I’ve learned that (while I struggle with how it feels) it’s okay for me to avoid other dogs while she’s on-leash. I’ve learned that maybe there’s stress she feels which is brought on by other dogs. I’ve learned that with time and dedication, I may be able to change the way she responds to dog friends. There are things that can be done and that gave me some hope that she and I both can change (I do love action items).
I know there’s still a lot of work to be done for the both of us. I’ve understood as well that we’ll never really be the dog park type but that doesn’t diminish what an awesome dog I have. I just wanted to offer up the perspective of a person with an anti-social dog. So if/when you see someone like me scamper away with my dog in-tow, please know that it’s not you – I’m just taking care of my pup.