Dog’s Eye View: Best blind dates ever
Some time ago, I was visiting with a friend whom I had not seen for quite a while. I knew she was remarried and seemed quite happy. She commented it was not being married that was the source of her happiness, but rather, being married to the right man.
I was thinking about this in context of the many accounts I hear from people who have adopted shelter dogs or dogs they have gotten from friends and ultimately had a long-term happy relationship. We hear so many sad tales about dogs that find their way to a shelter and, conversely, so many good results, as well.
I have often said, “A dog is not a dog is not a dog.” I mean that, though they are all canines with canine attributes, their behavioral, environmental, emotional and genetic makeup and learning history all play a part in what they’ve become. Is it any wonder some dogs just can’t survive in one environment but flourish in another?
For example, a friend rescued a young toy breed that was scheduled for euthanasia after being surrendered by the owners because the dog was not housetrained. My friend took this little dog in without even seeing her first. With diligent and consistent work on her part, the dog was successfully housetrained and now enjoys a life full of new experiences and accomplishments.
This was a case of an environmental disaster. The original owners simply could not help this little dog do the right thing, possibly due to a lack of education about housetraining or maybe just not being prepared for a puppy.
Another friend has a magnificent herding dog that was originally being trained as a working law enforcement dog. The agency ran out of funds to finish his training.
Again, sight unseen, my friend drove a long distance in order to adopt this young dog. With an entirely different approach to training and a commitment to building a long-term relationship, both dog and human have bonded in a way that is unimaginable.
This story is about a pregnant stock dog from Montana. A notice was posted at a local business that this middle-aged dog and an accompanying male dog would be dispatched if they were not adopted immediately. The owner was distraught following the loss of his wife due to cancer. My friend heard about these two dogs and drove from Colorado to give them a second chance, sight unseen. The male was extremely timid and fearful. It took a lot of patience to finally bring him out of his shell. My friend whelped out the litter, raised the puppies and placed them in homes. She kept one of the puppies and has trained him as a therapy and Nosework dog. She kept the female and male dog for eight years. They recently passed away within two months of each other.
To be clear, these scenarios, which seem miraculous, are not the everyday occurrence. I write this to encourage and caution. It’s not enough to rescue a dog with a heart full of compassion and then put it in a different, but still nonfunctional, home that does not meet the dog’s needs.
These friends had taken the time to educate themselves about canine learning and behavior change. They were willing to put themselves out there physically, emotionally and financially in order to give another dog a chance. As good as their skills are, they were willing to put in the day-to-day work and seek counsel when they needed it.
Some blind dates really do work out well for all parties involved.
Sandra Kruczek is a certified professional dog trainer at Total Teamwork Training, LLC, with more than 30 years of experience.
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