Doug continues to be the most energetic animal I have ever encountered. Here are some updates on how he/we are doing.
- We are starting to make progress on him not mouthing me. My feet are less afraid to walk by him and my old bruises are healing nicely.
- I have embraced our attempt to walk
across the countryas often as needed and he now only tries to eat the leash for the first ten minutes of the walk.
- He does great in the crate (both when I’m gone and at night). I’m not sure when he will be a dog that can sleep with me (see next bullet point)
- Doug views me as his playmate. But only in certain rooms, and for the life of me, I cannot figure this out. If I am in the kitchen, he will walk over to see what I’m doing but then he will go do his own thing. If I am in the office, he will either go play and entertain himself (between walks) or he will lay down in the bed in my office. If I go into the TV/couch area, he turns into a maniac and thinks I’m there to play with him and he will bounce off my body from all directions to try to engage me non-stop. He does the same thing in my bedroom (which is why the crate sleeping arrangement is currently in play). I’m going to be honest here, I really miss the comfortable areas of my house. Like my couch. I guess I will just have to cook or work in the office if I want to relax.
- He is doing great with training. He sits on command, most of the time. He still won’t sit when I’m trying to sit on the couch though, apparently he does not believe in synchronized sitting.
- He continues to do great with housebreaking!
- We went to my nieces soccer game this weekend. There were tons of people and a lot of activity and he did awesome! He does great in the car too.
I was thinking about what a handful Doug is and how different he is from what I expected. I’m not sure expected is the right work, he’s just different from what I’ve had so I guess my idea of how he would be was based on wrong things. Anyway, I know some of us get up in arms when someone adopts a dog and then has doubts, or calls in a panic that the dog is not what they thought they’d be or that they are not sure if it can work.
If we want a dog to growl, to give us that warning sign that all is not ok, then we have to be more prepared when a recent adopter calls with the same type of alert.
As committed as I am to the dogs, Doug is a lot more work than I ever thought he’d be. He has so much more to learn which means I have so much more to teach him and that can be overwhelming and exhausting for even the most seasoned dog lover. There have been moments with Doug when I think, a first time dog owner would cry with him. And the thing is, Doug is a great dog. He’s a normal dog. He’s got more energy than I’m used to but it’s still probably a normal amount. He has made me realize I need to figure out a better way to support new dog rescuers. When the dog is biting at your feet and you are worried they will never stop, I can’t come back to them with it won’t always be this way or it will get better. When someone is overwhelmed in that moment, they need a more immediate idea. Telling them it gets better will only make them worry more in the here and now because the future feels so far away.
It’s like if you are crying and someone says, don’t cry. Don’t cry? That is all you got? I mean at least go get me a tissue.
To all of you out there just starting off on your rescue endeavor, if you are overwhelmed or unsure or tired beyond recognition, here are some of my truths:
- It’s hard! You are not imagining how hard it is! You are both new to each other at first yet somehow you already love this crazy stranger. It takes a while to find a grove, even something resembling a grove. They don’t know what you want and you don’t know what they need. When you hit an a-ha milestone though, it feels so sweet.
- It is A LOT of work. It is not always going to feel rewarding, in fact sometimes it feels like you are being tortured and maybe on a secret reality TV show. Crying is ok.
- Some new dog owners do not go through a hard phase. Some of them just continue on as they were pre-rescue and it’s blissful and joyous. And you will be happy for them and still want to make a voodoo doll with a strand of their hair. Not everyone’s path is going to be the same.
- There is a reason I didn’t blog during Melvin’s first few years with me; it’s because he was even harder than than Doug is now. I didn’t have time or energy to blog becaue I was begging him to sit still. But you know how Melvin turned out. Melvin was worth every injury, every moment I hid in the bathroom because I was afraid to walk him. Every time I sat in my car for a moment’s peace before walking in to deal with his exuberance. My love for Melvin is anchored in those early years, from those seemingly impossible rough patches, from those tearful ‘what the F was I thinking getting this dog’ moments.
This dog, yes this Melvin, my Melvin, was a full fledge nightmare the first year I had him. The first time I had him the car, he busted through the SUV barrier and hopped into my lap while I was driving down a highway at 65 mph. Poetically, we were on our way to see a behaviorist when that happened. Worth. Every. Single. Minute.