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Helping Dogs & Owners

August 13th, 2010

A dog owner comes to me with problems they’ve tried everything to fix but can’t: we spend a day working on them, and later I get an update saying, “Life is good. Things are going well.” or “My dog made me proud today.”

I’ve had several of these moments in the past month. It gives me great pleasure to know that a dog is living a better life because the owner willingly grasped what I was teaching and wanted the best for their dog.

I derive satisfaction helping dogs become whole again. The joy comes from not having to “convince” owners that what we are doing works if they’ll only embrace it. They DO embrace it and see an immediate change in their dog’s behavior and realize it is not something that only I can achieve.

First example:

I had an adopted kelpie brought to me that was on the edge of going out-of-control. A smart, wonderful dog that had his owners buffaloed. The couple wanted to meet the needs of the dog and not continue the disintegrating behavior.

The owner listened hard the day we worked. She had to overcome some personal reluctance at some of the things we talked about doing for a short time, but agreed, for her dog’s sake, to do what was needed. None of it was harsh, or punitive, but she had to step out of her preconceived ideas of how to engage with her dog and learn how to communicate effectively.

She saw her dog, who often ignored her and had been unable to hold a sit for any length of time, hold a down for a LONG time as she walked around. That was only one of her conquests that day. This woman went home and continued with all she had learned.

Two weeks later I received an email from her. The subject line was “Arthur made me proud today!” She had taken the dog to the vet and he had behaved perfectly in the waiting room, where other dogs were acting like asses, and in the exam room. Even the vet commented on how well he behaved.

This woman had a right to be proud. She had changed, her dog had changed and was well-behaved, they were both happier and people noticed. That gave me great satisfaction.

Second example:

I had a woman who contacted me from the East coast. She was at her wit’s end with a adopted beagle, Annie, that had severe separation anxiety and had been on meds for quite a long time. Annie had caused extreme damage and the owner was frightened, and rightfully so, that the dog might injure herself in the course of an anxiety attack which caused her to attempt to escape the house.

She brought their dogs, both beagles, to me and the entire family went and spent a few days in Glacier. I immediately got the dog with anxiety off the meds and then did nothing other than observe her until the owners’ return.

The family and I worked with the dog, actually both dogs, for a full day. They then took off for home. They are a wonderful family and ALL of them, including the children, willingly changed how they handled the dogs in order to create a success.

Her email informed me that both dogs are doing exceptionally well and that no anxiety issues existed. What she actually said, which made me laugh, was, “Annie is good no real issues. Ginger has been getting up at 2/3 am wanting to go out. I feel like I had a newborn!! Yikes!!!: (We solved that middle-of-the-night issue via email.)

I’ve had several dogs over the past month just like the two examples above. All are doing fine now and the owners are relaxed and enjoying their new relationships with their dogs. That gives me great satisfaction.

Life, for me and my dogs, is good. It is a deeply satisfying to be able to teach other owners how to have that same good feeling.

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