“You don’t always get the dog you want, but you get the dog that you need.” – Cesar Millan
I didn’t know who that quote was attributed to, until I looked it up! I certainly wouldn’t go around quoting him, especially for a post on positive pet training, but I do think he might have been right about that. In a perfect world, that quote could be turned around as well….that a dog gets the family he or she needs as well (if only that were always the case).
When faced with this month’s Positive Pet Training blog hop theme of “transportation”, I was stumped. It brought a lot of things to mind…..how our first dog Shelby drooled like crazy the first time she rode in the car, and I, completely new to being a dog Mom, was really grossed out by that! Now I can reach into my dog’s mouth to take something undesirable out of it. I’ve come a long way since then! (Shelby did eventually get used to the car too.)
Our dogs Maggie and Kobi loved to ride in the car. We took them camping just about every weekend, so it was routine. When we lost Maggie and just months later became a four-dog family, we stayed home a lot more. The three new dogs never really became fans of riding, so Kobi got to go for rides to run errands, and every weekend went to the dump with Dad. We didn’t work a lot with the others, simply because we didn’t need to….they didn’t go a lot of places and were happy at home playing in their yard. They never loved riding, but they did OK when we took them places for walks or swimming.
When Luke joined our family, I wanted to be sure he enjoyed riding in the car, so we tried to get him in the car a lot more. It was my plan that he would become our dog who went more places, and take over Kobi’s role when he was gone; especially since I knew the others were getting older and things would eventually change. I thought we might travel more, maybe rent a cabin, and take dogs with us. Maybe he’d do agility, and we’d travel to competitions.
At first it was fine, but in time Luke became fearful of more and more things, strangers being the biggest one, then we found out he had luxating patellas, and between all that agility was out. He did fine when we traveled to a trainer and tried to work on some of his fear issues. He became the dog who went to the dump with the Dadz every weekend after Kobi was gone.
It was all mostly good for a while, until the day a few months ago when the Dadz took him out to his truck for the dump run, and Luke refused to get in. At first, we could bribe him in if I helped, or we used treats, but eventually that didn’t even work. It felt like giving up, but we decided that trying to force him to do something he clearly didn’t want to wasn’t going to be best for him, so he stayed home with Cricket and I. Besides, when Luke doesn’t want to do something? He won’t budge (see “At My Wit’s End”).
We haven’t given up on Luke riding, but it’s just become another thing on a long list that we’re going to have to work on slowly. Sometimes he’ll get in the car….he’s helped me out with some photo shoots of seat covers (that was just back in November), but if you get the vehicle moving, he shakes like a leaf.
That gets me back to that quote. Luke is teaching us a lot about accepting him for who he is. While we’ll work on things to try to help him, we’ve accepted that he’s never going to be that dog I dreamed of when he first came home with us. He’s going to be a homebody like us, and even having people visit might always be challenging.
That’s what we’ve seemed to settle into anyway, and now that we’ve started the farm, not many trips or vacations are going to happen anyway. We can get away occasionally when my sister can stay here (the only other person Luke accepts), and the Dadz is happy to be home when I go away for a weekend here and there with the girls. I think it was more my desire to go away for those weekends with dogs than it ever was his anyway (he thinks it’s more relaxing to go away without “the kids”!).
Therefore, I can’t write much about transportation for this blog hop. I know there are ways we can work with Luke, and we may, but it’s just not a priority right now. I can’t help but think about that quote, and that my hubby and I got the right dog for us. Luke is pretty laid back and happy now just being home and going for walks, and hanging out with me when I’m working at home.
Lately I’ve been a little frustrated with Luke, because it seems like he gives us more things to work on in time, not less. Case in point: one day recently Luke and I got home from a walk and I was wiping him off with a towel. I saw a tick on his leg, and I reached over and flicked it off him, then disposed of it. He freaked out a bit….Luke has a thing about being touched when he thinks you’re “doing something” to him. Now, whenever I get that towel out to dry him off? He jumps away and won’t let me. Sigh.
There are days I feel like no one can really understand what we’re dealing with, exactly what Luke’s level of insecurities are. I scour reactive dog groups for dogs similar to him, but no one has quite the same issues.
He got the family he needed, because I think we are the only ones who truly understand him (though even we often can’t figure out what makes him tick), love him more than anything, and we’re not going to push him too hard to do things he doesn’t want to. It doesn’t mean we won’t continue to try to work on his issues (we’ll be trying a new product soon, that I hope is going to help Luke relax some). We’re also content to have our loving boy – our official farm dog – who’s happy to stay home and be on the farm like we are.
We are pleased to be co-hosting the Positive Pet Training blog hop with Tenacious Little Terrier and Travels with Barley. Pet bloggers, please join us in this hop by posting your positive pet training stories. The hop remains open through Sunday. Our theme this month is “Transportation”, however, you may share any positive pet training story, whether it’s on our theme or not!