Even after writing Monday’s post, my brain has not been able to let the whole crate issue drop. I keep thinking of things I didn’t say, arguments I didn’t make. I also worry I did the writer of the inspirational article a disservice.
For the record, I want to be clear that I have enjoyed reading A.G. Out Loud for a long time. And I will continue to do so. This is one of the reasons her post upset me so much, as it came from someone I respect. In case you didn’t notice, I have this tendency to worry about what others think of me, even if it means sacrificing what is good for my dog. It’s not something that fills me with pride. Anyway, one of the points I tried to make on Monday, but think I failed at, was not that the original article was awful but more that I took it very personally. I sincerely do not believe this was the writer’s intent.
Secondly, I loved reading all of the comments. Everyone had a lot of intelligent things to say on the issue. I’m ashamed to say I was worried there would be some negative reactions. One would think I’d have learned by now that dog lovers are awesome, kind, and very smart people who know how to share their thoughts without going overboard. I really, really appreciate that. You all have really made me analyze my own opinions on dog training and dog ownership over the last couple days. Thanks for taking the time to share your stories!
There was one comment especially, from Sheltie Times, that stuck with me. I think it defines my personal experience with dog training:
“I knew I didn’t have all the answers when we rescued Bailey. Katy has taught me we don’t even have all the questions. We keep learning new things all the time.”
I certainly didn’t have all the answers before Shiva entered our house. But I thought I knew everything I should expect. For some reason, I assumed the shelter would have told us if she had any major problems. This was a ridiculous assumption, obviously. She was at the shelter how long? Maybe three weeks, tops? Not really enough time to get to know all her quirks. Furthermore, the shelter environment is so different from home life that it’s pretty hard to guess how a dog will change. I know I behave differently in various settings; it’s only natural that dogs will as well. The stress of being on the street and then moving into the shelter and then finally re-entering a home environment with two strangers, it’s going to have impact.
I still don’t know all the answers. Nor do I even know all the questions. Future dogs will probably prove just how little I know about dogs and dog training. Honestly, I’m looking forward to it.
Lastly, I wanted to talk briefly about the word “abuse”. I’ve seen it thrown around a lot. Offline more than on. It’s a difficult word to define as it seems to be slightly subjective. There is the legal definition, which we know is often not good enough when it comes to animals. There is the dictionary definition, which also doesn’t quite cut it. Then there are personal definitions. It seems we have all different ideas of where the line should be drawn. Since I am not an animal behaviourist or even a dog trainer, I try never to use the word other than how it has been legally defined. I don’t feel I know enough to say one way or another. It’s not that I don’t feel concern if I think an animal is being mistreated and it’s not that I don’t think some intervention may be necessary. By all means, I think many situations warrant some investigation. Rather, unless I know the entire story, I am hesitant to label something in a way that could be harmful. It’s not my job. It’s not my right. Words have a lot of meaning for me and when it may be a case of ignorance, the last thing I would want is a word to get in the way of education.
Everyone knows my strong distaste for unsolicited advice. If I see someone struggling with a particular dog-related problem, the only suggestion I will ever make is to find a good trainer. That’s it. That’s where I feel my duty ends. I will provide names, numbers, and websites and then leave it up to them to follow through. If I don’t think they will follow through, maybe I will consider calling the authorities, maybe I won’t. Every situation is different.
If I have learned nothing else, I have learned that every dog is different. It’s not fair for me to push my own ideas of how dogs should live on dogs who perhaps don’t want to live that way.
Am I making any sense at all? No doubt I’ve shoved my foot in it again. Oh well.