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Posts Tagged ‘problem dogs’

Little Bear the Mini Schnauzer

Little Bear

I’m thinking of writing a stiff letter to Life.  I think I’ve been incredibly tolerant up until now but something really has to be said about the way it relentlessly interrupts my training plans. And please, don’t even get me started on its effect on my blogging schedule…

I’m joking of course, but it’s a nice thought isn’t it?  ‘Excuse me Life, but can you just butt out for a while? I have dogs to train. We’re on a schedule you know.’

Curve ball

My mother was taken suddenly and critically ill recently and in the space of one phone call everything changed. Life jumped on us from a great height and we had no choice but to let it.  Thankfully she made a remarkable recovery and when I returned home nearly two weeks later, (to a thorough telling off by Little Bear and what I can only describe as a giggle dance from Annie) the dogs and I picked up where we left off.

Surrender

I’ve used Churchill’s famous quote about ‘never ever giving up’ many a time and it’s still something that inspires me and spurs me on when I’m tired and down-hearted. I’ll never stop striving for the best for my dogs, but I am willing to give up on something – the idea that I have to do it all perfectly and that if I don’t, then I’m somehow letting them down.

If you have a reactive dog, let alone two, you know what hard work they can be.  The dream is something most other dog owners take for granted; a quiet stroll in the park, a coffee at a pavement cafe without it causing a scene. It’s not a big dream but getting there takes a lot of work.

Little Bear and Annie have come such a long way. The work is working and we will persist, but I’m going to tear up that draft letter and tell Life that it’s okay. I understand. It has to do its thing and that’s fine. Whatever it throws at us, well, we’re just going to work around it.

 

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Annie & Little Bear

Annie & Little Bear

I’m not a fan of going out on New Year’s Eve. Of course, it was obligatory in my youth (god, how ancient do I sound?!) but it was usually marked by at least someone crying in the pub toilets, having a blazing row or otherwise getting morose.  Add to that the exhausting game of ‘dodge the midnight snogger’ those slobbery little creeps who think that midnight gives them carte blanche to pucker up to complete strangers and all in all it was as much fun as bathing a cat.  Thanks all the same, but I’ll be chilling at home tonight.

What I do love about New Year’s Eve is the chance to reflect on the departing year. I won’t be sorry to see the back of 2011 for numerous reasons, but dogwise, it’s certainly had it’s ups and downs.

Annie 

It’s been a huge year for Annie for sure.  It started with the TPLO operation to repair her damaged cruciate ligament.  Then came the 12 weeks of crate rest.  It’s amazing how we forget the weeks of disturbed nights as she cried pitifully from her crate.  Getting up three, sometimes four times a night with her was normal for weeks.  Other Half and I were punch drunk from lack of proper sleep.

Then there were the four walks a day she needed to build up the leg muscles and the desperate attempts to avoid the sight of any other dogs for fear that her lunging would undo the surgeon’s hard work.

Annie post TPLO

Annie post TPLO

In May came the freak puncturing of her thigh muscle by the metal work in her leg and the 3am race to the emergency vet.  She’s been spayed this year too and had her first holiday; the disaster story I’m sure we’ll continue to dine out on for years to come. But she’s also made amazing progress.  After months of on-lead walking while her leg heeled and we plucked up the courage to trust her recall, she’s now a sight to behold as she bounds through the woods.

Annie's bionic leg

Annie's bionic leg

She can still be reactive on the lead, but she’s a total pussycat off-lead.  She’s even made some new doggie friends. To see her running with other dogs and initiating play with Little Bear is just amazing.

She’s even learned to retrieve a ball in the past few weeks, which just goes to prove that you don’t really see the whole dog for a long time after their adoption.

A particular highlight came in the shape of her award from Labrador Rescue South East and Central.

Little Bear 

Little Bear too has made amazing progress. We had a setback the other day, but the overall trend is a positive one. His reactivity is much reduced and that’s something I’m really proud of. If someone had told me this time last year that he’d be walking past screaming children, cyclists and other dogs without barking I’d have been amazed, but he’s doing all of that.

He also did really well at his agility lessons.  Again, being in a class with lots of other dogs isn’t something he could have done last year, but he coped brilliantly and even though he doesn’t take agility very seriously, he proved that he can make short work of all of the equipment despite the presence of lots of other dogs.  I’m not sure sitting on the top of the A Frame for a rest is in the rule book, but he certainly enjoyed being the class clown.

Little Bear goes swimming

Little Bear goes swimming (well, nearly..)

He also learned to swim, an achievement of the highest order given his complete terror of the pool on his first lesson. He’s not up to the backstroke just yet, but we’ll be starting lessons again in the Spring so that he can pick up where he left off.

2012

So here comes 2012.  I could fill pages with all the things I’d like to do with them, but I’ll restrain myself. I’m immensely proud of my dogs and plan to spend as much time as possible enjoying their company and helping them overcome their fears in 2012. For that opportunity I feel really blessed.  Happy 2012 everyone.

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