Calling All Pet Owners

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.

43 thoughts on “Calling All Pet Owners

  1. That is an AWESOME idea! Like you and Shiva, during the first year with Lucas, I felt so alone… outside of the glares from people in our neighborhood, of course. Having a place to pose questions would have been so helpful and reassuring. Now that we’re on the other side, I’m always, always happy to share our experiences in the hope that it would help someone else. Awesome idea!

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    • Thanks! I thought so too; I just hope it will help. Even reading now that you also dealt with neighbourhood glares makes me feel better. Especially after just receiving such a glare from someone when I accidentally allowed my dog to step a toenail on their grass.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  2. Shiva’s doppelganger looks awesome and I love all hounds – tat Ibizan hound is LOVELY! I wish Barbie would jump like that but she just doesn’t have the confidence.

    They anonymous page thing might work. Maybe you should give it a trial and see how many emails you get?

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  3. I would be so into this. Especially with the rotations of fosters coming through our house we are constantly bumping up against new issues that we have no idea how to deal with. We would LOVE it if you started something like this. You have long pondered how you can turn your blog into a way to help others — this could be such a beautiful way.

    Aleksandra, Chick, & new foster TANK!
    loveandaleash.wordpress.com

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    • Congratulations on your new foster! You guys are doing such an amazing job. I am impressed with your turnover! I can’t wait to read more about Tank. (Love the name. :-))

      I hope it will make a difference. Thanks for your support!

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  4. That is a wonderful idea! I had no clue when we got Delilah what we were in for. If any of my experience can help someone I am all for it. That is partly why I started my blog. To let others know that shelter/rescue dogs are so worth it.

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    • Rescue dogs are definitely worth it, I agree. In fact, I am almost grateful to Shiva for her problems. If she had been easy to live with, I don’t know if I would have discovered my passion – or started this blog!

      Thanks for adding your support!

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    • Thank you very much! You have so much experience and always a kind word to say. I really appreciate it.

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  5. Shiva’s doppelganger looks her long lost twin! and that was a great video!

    I love your idea. I’m always looking at Craigslist pets and email the people that post there, looking for help. I get some great feedback. DO IT! DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!

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  6. In fact I wish I could go back to the time when I first had puppy Eva. There are so many things and decisions that I wish I could redo, remake and change. However, she’s the one who has been teaching me so many new things since she was born and I really appreciate it. The experience is priceless but still there is a moment I do wish I could make some changes if I was given a chance again : )

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    • I know what you mean. The first six months before we found our trainer were brutal. I had no idea what I was doing and unfortunately took some bad advice. Luckily Shiva is a very forgiving job and bounced back! She is the best teacher there is and hopefully our future dogs will have a much better beginning!

      Thanks for your thoughts!

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  7. As one of those new owners feeling in over my head I LOVE your idea. Especially since I instinctively feel that readers of your blog care first and foremost about the dog’s welfare (there is no shortage of people willing to offer me advice, but there is most definitely a shortage of supportive, knowledgeable people whose advice I can trust). I’m so lucky to have found your blog, just reading about your experiences with Shiva makes me feel less alone and makes me feel like my Pearl is actually pretty normal and not the psycho-puppy I sometimes fear she is.

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    • Unfortunately, that does seem to be the case. There are lots of people willing to put forth their opinions – I’ve met many of them – but those opinions don’t always have the dog’s best interests in mind. Often they have more to do with making the human’s life easier.

      I am so glad you have found a more supportive network. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. You are definitely NOT alone and Pearl is definitely an awesome dog – she just may not always know how to show it.

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  8. Great idea Kristine having a question page – I thinked I jumped the line when I asked your readers their opinion of adopted Nikita – and there thoughts and reassurances – as well as talking with you – made me comfortable in taking on another rescue dog at this point in our lives.
    So – since I jumped the line first – I think I can ask the burning question of today – is there a good way to teach a dog to fetch? I have the sit, stay, come and heal pretty much down already – I forget how we did the fetch –

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    • Not at all, you helped inspire me! I was so impressed with how many people were willing to offer their suggestions.

      The man seems to have done a better job with the fetch game than I have. Shiva isn’t a natural at retrieving. She will chase anything but bringing it back doesn’t always happen. He has been able to make it a lot more exciting, though, and she actually does fetch more often. We have to keep the game super short, leave her wanting more, but we’re getting there!

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    • You are totally not alone, that I can assure you. Every dog is different and I know when we eventually adopt a second dog, I am probably going to be confused all over again!

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  9. Love the idea! We all need to sometimes think outside the box when it comes to training our dogs. And I’ve found the best ideas come from those who’ve lived through a certain issue themselves vs the books experts write.

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  10. That dog looks exactly like Shiva’s mini-me!! It could be her runt sister or something! 🙂

    The anonymous thing sounds like a fabulous idea! I may have to submit some questions myself–anonymously of course!! 🙂 I’d be more than happy to provide my not-so-expert advice if I know anything about any of the questions.

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  11. That’s a great idea! I’d be happy to chip in my half cent’s worth! lol There are things I feel like I know a lot about, and others I’m not qualified to help with, but I’m happy to help when I can!

    That dog does look like a mini Shiva! Is it a good thing that she can be reproduced in miniature? I love those Ibizans, too!

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  12. The video was great; noted Shiva’s doppelganger: can the Shiv hang on like that? LOVE the idea of a place for people to go with questions and concerns. You rock!

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  13. I think a question/answer section could be worth a shot! I do worry about how much spam stuff you would have to filter through though.

    I was lucky to find a group of people to help with Bella when I got her. I was NOT ready for an emaciated, terrified dog that was hell bent on starving herself. Many of us are friends to this day and we still talk dog issues. Of course, I also found a place that was the opposite. Completely horrid and mean and unhelpful. That the interwebz for ya!

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  14. Sounds like a great idea. I like the idea of getting several different answers from people and finding out what might or might not work. I think it would be cool to get different some different ideas and perspectives.

    I know what you mean about feeling alone and out there. Blogging is such a great way to know your not the only one having problems. 🙂

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  15. A bit late, but yes, I love the idea. In fact, having lately gained some wisdom myself from the advice and kindness of strangers, I can say with absolute certainty that it’s a Damn Good Idea!

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  16. It sounds like a great idea. Each dog is so different. We learned so much when we rescued Bailey. We had great help from our vet, our obedience trainer, and the doggy daycare provider. However, as we have started this journey with Katy, I realize how much we don’t know. Each dog is a whole new process with a learning curve that you have to adjust to if you want the adoption to work.

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  17. You’re a really inspirational person, Kristine, with a very big heart. I think you have got a lot of good advice to give, since you’ve been through a lot in your struggle to solve Shiva’s issues and you’ve learnt a lot along the way. Your idea of a support page is a great one. I’m not sure I’m the right person to give advice on dog behaviour, since we’ve had no issues with George in this respect, but I might be able to help with the old tip on raw feeding. Let me know if I can help, and I will, time permitting. x

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  18. I think it’s a great idea Kristine. As you well know, the first idea someone has doesn’t work but eventually someone will come up with something.

    I’m wondering if you want to start a group over at the Blog Paws community on the subject to make this easier to manage. Or even to drive more traffic over here when you post something.

    BTW, thanks for posting the video. I loved Shiva’s doppleganger.

    Is there a chance we’ll see you and Shiva on the circuit someday?

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    • That’s a great idea. I haven’t spent much time at the BlogPaws community but I should start. It’s such a fantastic idea all on its own!

      There is nothing I would love more than to join the team. I am going to have to find out when and where they hold tryouts!

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  20. Though I am a bit tardy in responding, I think your idea is a great one. You never know when one person’s experience can help someone else, and creating a forum to facilitate that would be fantastic.

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  21. I think that’s a fantastic idea! When we brought Toni home, I had never encountered the level of fear she carried with her every day. But even as I sat next to her on a curb at midnight crying because she was too frightened to pee (it took us an hour and a half just to get the curb to begin with), it never, ever occurred to me that she wasn’t part of our family, only that we had to find a way to help her – and soon. We thought Téa’s Tasmanian Devil routine would be a cake-walk in comparison…but the joke was on us. We were so lucky to have a solid dog support system to help us through. It made all the difference – and I would gladly share anything I’ve learned along the way that may be of help to someone still struggling.

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