|Barked: Fri Jan 10, '14 11:04am PST |
|I agree with Jax. The ones who are the most trouble have the most to teach us and are often the smartest dogs.
I never thought about taking Risa back. . .but there were several times I thought about just dropping her leash and walking away. (I never would have because it was unsafe to do so and I always loved her. But the thought crossed my mind several times.)
When I brought Risa home, she was 2.5 years old. She was underweight and very afraid of everything. I was fortunate that she was good in the house. She was housebroken, didn't try and eat my two guinea pigs, and was barely destructive. (In the 7.5 years I've had her, I barely need two hands to count the things she has destroyed.)
Outside, however, was a completely different story. She was terrified of new places, people, and other dogs. Novel items (sandwich board A-frames, poop disposal cans, etc.) scared her as well. When we walked past people, she bolted to the end of her leash trying to get away. No one could pet her save for me. If I took her somewhere new, she would pant heavily and tremble. If we went near the exit, she pulled to escape. Initially, she just froze when other dogs greeted her but, eventually, she started to lash out at them. It got so bad she would bark and bounce at dogs 20+ feet away or up on balconies when she saw them. On top of her fear issues, she also had incredible prey drive. As you can imagine, walks were not a lot of fun for us.
I wanted so badly to help her overcome her fears so she could enjoy the world outside our four walls. I used to cry out of frustration and sadness when I couldn't seem to help her. Walking is supposed to be one of the joys of dog ownership. . .but it never was fun for us.
I learned all that I could to try and help her. It has been a long journey full of sadness and overwhelming joy. To see her today, you'd never recognize her. I usually have to tell people she's fearful; it's not apparent right away. I sometimes even forget it myself! When I adopted her, there was no way she was ready to compete in dog sports. That was one of my goals. I thought it might never happen. While it's not easy, she does compete and she absolutely loves it. She's an incredible partner and performer. I love seeing that the dog I knew inside the house is now the same dog everyone else can see.
I didn't perform a miracle. She is not a confident social butterfly; she is still a fearful dog. But the bond forged between us through the struggles is so strong. And it's been worth it.
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