The hardest part about my first year with Shiva is that I felt so alone. I worried she really was the monster all my neighbours said she was. We tried many different things but none of the usual methods made any difference. I scoured the internet and all the training books I could find in our local store. I asked the advice of friends and family. No one understood. No one was able to offer anything I hadn’t already thought of by myself.
Somehow my search never led me to blogland. Not until long after we were already on the road to recovery. It’s unfortunate because I know the support of other dog owners going through similar struggles would have made me feel so much better. It turns out Shiva’s problems weren’t even that bad in comparison. If only I had known how fixable most of her issues were. If only I’d had the encouragement of others who understood why I wasn’t willing to return Shiva to the shelter.
As we all know, one of the largest reasons dogs and cats are in shelters and rescues is lack of training. Even I was suprised by how much work was involved and I had done all my homework beforehand. It’s hard to really prepare yourself unless you’ve been through it before. First time dog owners are often blindsided by barking or housetraining issues. Even the good ones. Even the ones who get up at five in the morning to take their dogs for two-hour jogs. Pet ownership is never what one expects. I like to think it’s better, but that’s only after two hard years of work.
Now that I think I’m on the other side, I’d like to do something to help all those who are still wondering what the heck they got themselves into. I’m not a professional dog trainer. I don’t know all the answers. I admit to still needing a lot of help myself. However, I can offer my support to those who are unsure they have what it takes to be pet owners.
Though I can’t do it alone.
I’ve received a few emails from blog readers asking for my advice. I’ve tried to do what I can but my knowledge is so limited. While I believe I’m an expert on Shiva – and even then I wonder – I am not so sure what worked for her will work for every dog, even ones with similar issues. This is the part where I am enlisting your help.
I am thinking of setting up a contact page where people can annonymously submit their dog/cat/fish/sheep training questions. They don’t even have to be questions, just pleas for reassurance they are not the worst owners in the whole world. I will post them on my blog and those readers that are able can respond with advice or commiserations. It doesn’t have to be expert opinion; most of us are still figuring this stuff out. But I think everyone’s experiences are unique. Maybe something someone else will say will resonate better than just my thoughts. Maybe someone else will know of a great website or book I’ve never heard of before.
What’s most important, I hope together we can help good people feel a little less alone. If even one animal remains out of a shelter as a result, I think it’s definitely worth devoting some time.
What do you think?
Please let me know in the comments if this is a project you think is worth pursuing. As I said, all contributions and questions would be anonymous. The point isn’t to lay judgement, it’s to help cheer each other on. I think it could be something really great but I would need your support in order to make it a success.
Now for something completely different…
My practically mother-in-law sent me this video last week. At approximately the 1:35 mark, there is a dog that looks almost exactly like Shiva. Just mini-sized! The whole video is worth watching as I think it’s pretty hilarious. Rick Mercer plus talented dogs can only be a win. About halfway in there is also a lovely Ibizan Hound that jumps 67 inches! But, if you only have a little time, you should at least check out Shiva’s doppelganger.