Moving Forward

Isn’t it crazy how our dogs not only have the power to lift us up, but also have the ability to bring us tumbling down? Some days they make us happier, kinder people. And others they have us snapping at our spouses. They keep us humble, that’s for sure.

Despite the rough beginning, the rest of our weekend went pretty well. If I believed she was capable, it’s almost as if Shiva sensed my disappointment and decided to be on her best behaviour. Whatever the reason, I am grateful. I don’t think I would have handled a second meltdown very well.

As predicted, I am feeling better about things today. However, I don’t think I can proceed as if nothing happened. That’s the thing about being a silly human, we don’t forget things that bother us. Shiva and Mia were probably over it as soon as their teeth were put away. I would love to have that ability. To forgive and forget without a second thought. I’m working on it.

Thanks to all for your suggestions and support. Knowing that I am not alone in feeling so down because my dog isn’t as perfect as I’d like… It helps a lot. Most people would just think I am nuts. I don’t know when all this agility training became so important to me. All of a sudden it just is. It’s no longer just about having a good time. I feel now like I have something to prove. Perhaps that’s where we’ve gone wrong. No dog is perfect, of course. Just as no human is. That last point is the most vital to note. I am of the belief that a dog’s actions are never her fault. if a dog screws up, it’s because a human has somewhere else down the line. If Shiva blows me off to tick off another dog, it’s my fault. I am the only one to blame. It’s difficult for me not to take that to heart.

Anyway, I guess I know what I need to work on. Recalls, recalls, recalls. As if this wasn’t totally obvious before! I am lucky enough to have a free spot in Susan Garret’s next online Recallers Course. I fully intend to take it all much more seriously this time. It seems to be the one thing standing in our way. If Shiva and I can just conquer this running off thing, if we can just convince her that it is more fun to stay with us, then I know everything else will immediately improve.

Maybe not everything else. She still lacks all social skills. That comes with time, though, right? Right?

17 thoughts on “Moving Forward

  1. My dogs… geeesh have caused me to snap at my significant other, cry and worry numerous times but your right they also make me laugh and smile too. Fred and Haylie use to fight horrible… I had to do crate and rotate and even seperated them for a year and I always had dog envy of others with well behaved dogs that could get along. Now they get along but Fred is a nightmare still in certain situations. I laugh all the time when it comes to my dog envy. I guess that is why Haylie is so important to me cause she listens and is well behaved… she has all the dog envy qualities im jealous of when it comes to Fred. Ive realized Fred isnt going to change, he is who he is… which means a ton more tears in my life with him 🙂

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  2. I’m glad you are feeling better today Kristine.

    I can completely relate to the “not forgetting things” comment. I had two dog clients get in a major fight last week (I thought one was going to kill the other) Add to the nightmare the fact that the other 2 dogs got in on it. I had to break up a 4-dog fight last week. The worst part was breaking up the two males trying to kill one another.

    I blame myself for not catching the one and putting him back inside right away. I don’t think I will ever forget the experience. I wish I could. I am so extra cautious now with these dogs. I don’t trust them at all.

    The dogs seemed to have gotten over everything by the very next day, but I will take much longer than that to forget the choke hold of one dog on the other, the blood and gnashing of teeth. Yeah. We humans take much longer to forget.

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  3. Right! 🙂 Honestly, our dogs can only cause so much emotion – both the good kind and the bad kind – because we love them so much! But I’m totally stuck in that human way of thinking, too. Each time Lucas walks past another dog while on leash, I celebrate for a second. But I always go back to, “But he lunged at that collie the other day and flipped out at that little beagle. Sigh.” Oh, to be more dog-like and to stop obsessing about past events…

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  4. Oh I know how you feel. After the Chow attack I was trembling whenever I saw another dog for weeks and weeks (and had nightmares and daymares). I’m still way too emotional and edgy when we see dogs outside, but after a few weeks of work, Charlie’s much more relaxed. And Emma? You never would have known she was attacked, she just plods on as usual.

    Congrats on the Susan Garrett spot! Sounds awesome.

    Seriously though, Control Unleashed. And the Give Me a Break Game. Leslie McDevitt actually just reopened her CU yahoo discussion list – might be the perfect time for you to see if it can work for you and Shiva?

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  5. Time out on the “if the dog flips out it’s all my fault” bit. Dogs are NOT blank slates. They are born with temperaments and personalities all their own. That’s why some become therapy dogs, some become police dogs, and some yap all day long!

    Shiva had experiences in her life before you came along that shaped her personality and behaviour. Our vet told us it can take two years before a dog truly settles into a new home, especially a dog with “issues.” We are just seeing that now, at the two-year mark, with Our Best Friend; he’s come a long, but he has a long way to go. Relax, take a deep breath, and try to give her as many positive experiences as possible. Reinforce them. That will help make her a calmer, happier dog, and you a calmer, happier “person companion!”

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  6. I don’t know what happened to Shiva, as I’ve been offline for a few days (I’ll go and check out the posts I’ve missed), but I know how you feel about wanting your dog to be perfect. We all want the same, don’t we, especially since dogs (just like kids) are perceived as a representation of their owners. But don’t be too hard on yourself, I don’t know many people who would put so much thought into what went wrong and what they’ve done wrong as you do. I’m sure you’ll find a way to solve the problem, even if it takes a while.

    I, too, have sometimes wondered why we, people, find it hard to forgive and forget. I think animals are lucky to be able to do that and move on.

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  7. I am totally in agreement with One person’s view. How could you blame yourself when Shivs has her own llittle voices in her head and thoughts and such. All creatures have emotions and personalities and temperaments, and you are not a failure if she fancies running off for a moment.

    *hugs*

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  8. MayzieMom here. Just read this post and the last one. I don’t know if I have anything terribly helpful to add but I just wanted you to know that you’re not alone.

    I know that feeling of going along, being proud of how far your dog and you have come, feeling confident and then wham! Something happens that sets you back on your heels. This happened recently with Mayzie and, like you, I was second-guessing everything and my abilities to be a good trainer and guardian. I sometimes worry about my mental stability that what happens with my dog can send me into such a funk. Okay, not really. But OTHERS may worry about my mental stability. Ha!

    But after some time has passed, I realize that setbacks are all part of living life with a…er…less-than-normal dog. And, in a way, they’re a blessing because they show us what we still need to work on. I am able to examine what happened and figure out what I need to do better next time. I think it’s all just part of the learning curve. Sometimes I hate that darn curve because it throws me off balance. But it’s just all part of life.

    I’m glad that you’ve had a chance to reflect and decide on a positive course of action. That’s why you are, without a doubt, Shiva’s “Most Perfect Home That Ever Was.”

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  9. I give you a lot of credit for assessing the situation, seeing what needs to be fixed, and taking steps to move forward! So many people see a problem crop up and just throw up their hands and give up. Think about how many less than perfect dogs wind up in shelters because of their lack of training and socialization. Shiva will never be one of those dogs! That’s because you’re not a person who gives up when the going gets tough. Even though you might not be the perfect handler all the time, you’re the perfect person for Shiva! Never forget that part!

    Sometimes we encounter “difficult” dogs in our lives. Our second Greyhound, Hawk, was one of those dogs for me. There were so many times where I felt like a blundering fool because I couldn’t seem to do the right things for him. He was just a different kind of guy. The truth is, a lot of people would have given up on him. Heck, he even bit me! But I learned so much from my time with him. He made me a better person and a better dog owner. Someday down the line, I think you will feel the same way about your time with Shiva! (hugs)

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  10. They do keep us humble, that is for sure. They have a way of teaching us things and making us better people, but also have a way of learning our ‘buttons’. Glad to hear you are doing better today. You are a great mom!

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  11. Oh, I’m sorry I’m so late with this (we’re SO behind with our blog friends!) but I just wanted to say that I TOTALLY know how you feel and where you’re coming from! I always thought I was the only one who felt like this so in a way, it’s sort of been a comfort for me to read your posts. I too have had similar experiences with Honey reacting totally out of character and I just feel so humiliated and a useless trainer – and worse, I tend to lose confidence in her too and start doubting her next time we’re in similar situations. It’s something I have to work very hard to overcome quickly otherwise it can quickly blow up into a huge thing in my mind.

    (for example, recently, we were walking around our neighbourhood and there are a few houses with dogs left outside that rush the fence – this is Honey’s big weak area – she was very badly reactive when young and we worked very hard to get it under control. But I would say she is in remission rather than cured. Anyway we got surprised walking past a house with a high, blind fence – just suddenly out of nowhere, this really vicious barking erupted next to us and I saw a muzzle come under the gate and start snapping and growling and really trying to get at us. Well, I got a terrible fright – and Honey too, I think – and then she ‘relapsed’ and started lunging and bouncing at the dog behind the fence. Well, I yelled at her and she stopped and came to me and I made her Heel past the dog twice on purpose and it was all fine. But I was left shaking and the whole incident really threw me. Which was silly as nothing bad really happened and Honey actually came back under control very quickly. But still, it really knocked my confidence – Anyway, I felt very shaky after coming home even though I told myself it was actually a successful incident in that I got things back under control very quickly – and then on the next walk, I found that I was starting to veer as far away from that house as possible when walking past, practically falling off the pavement – then the next walk I was making a detour with Honey and walking off the pavment, along the edge of the road – then the next walk, I started to cross the road and walk on the other side – and then I found myself starting to take a different route to avoid that street altogether!! And meanwhile, we hadn’t encountered that dog again – the fence remained silent. But I had let it take hold in my mind and it was becoming this huge thing and I suddenly realised that I had to get a grip, conquer my stupid fear, otherwise it’ll start to undermine everything else I do with Honey. So I started to force myself to walk past that house again – OK, I walk past really stiff & tense and I have Honey on very short leash and I’ve given her a “warning” before we pass in my Scary Voice…so I’m not relaxed – but at least I’m doing it! 🙂 )

    Anyway, sorry for rambling but just wanted to show that we all go through similar things when we’re taken by surprise and all our training might seem to go out the window for a moment but it really doesn’t mean that we’re a failure as trainers. And yes, no dog is perfect! 🙂

    Hsin-Yi

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