Have you ever adopted a dog with your own expectations, having your own hopes of what kind of companion he or she will be? In my case, my hopes were to have a walking, park-going, therapy dog. This was not not the case with Barker Posey .
This is Barker Posey: she’s a beautiful dog. She is sweet and loving with every human that enters her life. She gives sweet kisses. She catches treats, plays fetch, knows her sit and stay commands. She’s the poster child of a good girl.
Also Barker Posey: she's reactive to most dogs when on leash. She sometimes refuses to move, sit, walk, and eat. She will stand over you and stare at the wall. She has clinical level anxiety. She’s the perfect poster child of a reactive jerk.
This is the most perplexing dog I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. When she is giving me flea bites in my hair, or kissing her friends, or standing over me in the awkward way she does, I feel so lucky to have her. She trusts, and loves, and feels safe.
Barker Posey has challenged me to get training. Me, not her. And basic obedience was only the beginning for us. You see; sit, stay, wait, free….. We got that. I knew how to teach it and she soaked it up. The training I needed was much more than basic commands. I required training on what to do when she WON’T move. I had to be trained in the art of patience with a stubborn, fearful dog. And how to be the leader to a dog too afraid to follow. I sought training on how to be relaxed while my reactive dog was reacting. We needed strategies that would allow us to build trust in each other while getting through situations that left both of us with adrenaline dumps.
Barker and I have spent hours training. We aren’t perfect. She still has anxiety and I still get irritated. She is often an excellent walker and I am willing to walk as long as she is. She has learned to play a strong game of fetch and I know she can only go to the park when no other dogs are there.
Barker Posey is not the dog I’ve always wanted. I like a sidekick, a distance walker, a dog who is up for anything. This is not her. I feel sad when I leave her at home and take our other dog, Vito, for long walks or to a training class that has other dogs. I have come to accept that the sadness is from my own expectations of her. SHE wouldn’t be happy participating in those activities. Forcing her to do those things would leave us both frustrated and damage our trust.
Sometimes we find companions in life that aren’t what we expect. This isn’t the dog I always wanted, but she is the dog I needed. Learning to deal with her quirks, both serious and inconsequential, has been an opportunity to build my own confidence with animals. Barker Posey and I have much more to learn. I look forward to the challenge and will continue to share our growth and experiences here on our blog.
If you have adopted a dog you didn’t always want, let us hear about your experience in the comment section below or on our Facebook page. We can swap stories, heartbreaks, and triumphs. Remember, having the dog that wasn’t who you expected doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. You just have to make a new deal.
If you haven't already, sign up to receive updates on adoptable dogs, our progress, and new merchandise here. If you want to support our mission and help the helpers, pre-order a swanky t-shirt and/or donate. All proceeds go directly to Bully Ranch. Thank you for your support!