Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Dog You Want VS the Dog You Get

OK.  I admit it:  The little one is my favorite!

When I inherited Sage Alley, I also inherited my mom's pets:  Two dogs, pictured above, and a cat.  The cat is a piece of cake.  We came here with seven of our own.  I've been a cat lady for decades.  I know what I'm doing here.

The dogs are another matter.  Over the years as I've visited and stayed with my parents, of course, I've been around and handled numerous dogs.  I've trained dogs.  What I have not done in over twenty years, however, is lived with dogs.  I like to believe that, way back when when I was a dog owner (I still miss my Charlie!) I was a good one.  I was always very attentive to my dogs' needs and to the dogs themselves.  I trained them and housebroke them and took them everywhere with me (that I was allowed to, anyway!)  I know dogs, but over the years I had gotten used to not having dogs.

These dogs are--how can I put this?--a special case.  Living with them has been a challenge.  They are senior dogs, but they are not housebroken. We have to have baby gates in place all over the house, or they will soil the carpets.  I have to put puppy pads down at night in the area they live in, because otherwise, they will ruin the hardwood floors. They respond to their names and come when they are called (most of the time,) but they have NO obedience training--at least none that has stuck.  The big one doesn't even have appropriate boundaries. He's not content to just get attention.  He has to be the center of attention.

We are at the point now where we are trying to start to introduce our cats (one at a time) to the dogs and to my mom's cat. These dogs behave as if they've never been around cats, even though they have lived with one all of their lives.

In short, adjusting to being dog owners and of these dogs in particular is requiring a lot of patience on my part, and I admit I struggle.  My mom's last words to me that I remember were "Take care of my dogs," and I intend to honor that.  I will not let any harm come to these dogs, and I have even upgraded them to better food.  They also have a large, beautiful dog pen now, so that they no longer run loose and put themselves in potential danger (this was a problem when my parents were both still around--they let them run free, which I always objected to.)

These dogs have a good life, but I can't say that I love them.  Most days, I don't really even like the larger of the two dogs.  I have to work very hard to be even handed with him and to make sure I'm giving him equal attention (equal to the little dog, whom I adore, and equal to the cats.)  This dog is very socially anxious and extremely needy.  He can't handle anything, really.  I feel badly for him, and I keep his challenges, as well as his recent stressors in mind, but I'll be darned if he doesn't do something each and every day to irritate me!

All I can really do about this is take each day one at a time, as well as each situation that comes up.  I need to keep in mind that it is not the dogs' fault that they are not trained, and it's not the big dog's fault that he has issues. As they are both senior dogs, training them has been difficult, but I need to slow down and build consistency.  If they never fully "get it"--and I don't think they will--I need to be thankful for the small victories along the way.  I need to work at loving this dog (and I do! I work really hard at it) and to try and remember that I'm doing this for my mom.

One day, we will have the dog(s) that we want,  but right now, I had a duty to the dogs that we have, and I will do my very best not to let them or my mother down.

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