it’s not your dog, it’s mine

There are two camps in the domesticated animal world: cat and dog.  I am firmly (and have always been) in camp dog.

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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.

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Look at this good girl in her bandana

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a dog story.

Hey guys!  A lot of you who follow me on Insta and FB will likely know some of this story already – but for the rest of you, I was inspired this morning to share some happenings in my little family.

I’ve already mentioned on a couple occasions that I love animals.  I take after my dad in that regard; it’s in my DNA to *always* live in a house where I’m outnumbered by animals.  When I came into the picture, Dave already had two dogs (Jack and Charlie) and then we Brady-Bunched together with my two cats and added one more for good measure (Marty).

In mid-February, sweet Charlie was diagnosed with lymphoma.  The diagnosis to decline was too rapid.  His little lymph nodes were huge and he went from being the Charlie we knew to being completely disinterested in food or firetrucks – two things that previously excited him.  We did everything we could to adjust and prepare for his struggle ahead.  There were quite a few good days we were lucky enough to share with our friend, but unfortunately the disease was more accelerated than we anticipated and we lost him early last month.  It was so much harder than I’d anticipated and anyone who has lost a furry family member knows what I mean.  We had less than ZERO plans to add to the pack since the loss hit us so hard.

Like all good things in life, what happened next was not planned.

A good friend of Dave’s is affiliated with/works for an animal shelter in Elgin, IL.  He had posted on FB about some dogs they went to retrieve from a shelter in Oklahoma.  One thing led to another and we got talking about one of the dogs.  She had such a heartbreaking story but a strong spirit and a very hopeful future since she’d been rescued.  Once we heard her story, there was no way she couldn’t be ours.  In her very short 9 months on this Earth, she’d been through the unspeakable.  Despite that, she still had a lot of love and sweetness in her heart – a testament to the resilience of dogs.  We realized we were able and ready to give her the life and love she deserves.  She joined our family last week.

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First time on Iowa soil

With Jack and Marty we have something that works well.  They get along with one another and the cats, we are able to leave them alone during the day without incident, they are trustworthy in the yard – so naturally I fretted about whether or not new dog would fit in with our dynamic.  I realized that I worried the same way when we got Marty and that all worked out well.  It just takes time, training, consistency and patience.

She’s fit in so well already that I can’t imagine not having her around.  The boys are still adjusting, as are the cats.  She’s so good-natured that she approaches them playfully with no aggression whatsoever.  I truly believe that rescues make the best dogs.  As we’ve heard more than once about her, she truly is the definition of a rescue and I’m so glad she’s a member of our family.

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She’s soooo good in the car.

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That bed makes her look small but she’s actually the size of a mini-horse.