Are you a multi-pet family? Do you have a “good dog” that sticks out in your family? I was reflecting on the dogs I have had the pleasure of stewarding over my adult years and how I perceived them as good dogs or bad dogs at times. Since my relationship with Barker Posey, I have had time and need to reflect on what being a “good dog” means.
Our family started with a tiny cat and added one dog, Titan. He was still pretty young when we adopted him yet already had an old man attitude. You know, “Get off my lawn,” and “This soup is cold.” That was him. Overall, he was a good dog. Later, we added Malia. She was a sweet, welcoming young girl. She loved most things and people. We often called her the “good dog”, not because she was always better behaved than Titan, but because she never had an old lady attitude about anything. She mostly listened to us while Titan was a stubborn dude that wanted to pee where he wanted to pee and didn’t care if you had to stop while he went in a crosswalk.
Years later, we adopted Doggy Trejo. He was a good dog right from the beginning. He learned easily, was fun and funny, loved other beings. He was so good, that I wanted to add another dog for him to share that personality with. Then came Barker Posey. If you have read some of my stories about her, you know she wasn’t the “good dog” in many situations. Don’t get me wrong, in the house and with humans, she is AMAZING. Outside can be a different situation. We called Trejo the “good dog” in that pair.
Now, we have Barker Poesy and Vito. When we adopted Vito, we were just beginning training sessions in our home for us and Barker. She and Paul had done a class and we used some techniques she learned, but it wasn’t enough. I automatically thought Vito would be our new “good dog.” He was young and wild, but seemed to be adjusting to being with us. And there was no way I could see Barker being the good one.
Now, with training, some recent fostering, and other opportunities she’s had to make new doggy friends, I see her in a new light. That new light allows me to set new expectations for her. Even so I am nervous about some things with her (fostering dogs in our home, walking near untethered dogs, oh….. I could go on), recognizing her as a “good dog” allows me to see her that way. I laughed when we joked about her one evening, asking, “Are you becoming the GOOD dog?” Truly, she has become that in so many ways.
So, if you’re struggling with your dog and they’re not meeting your expectations, give yourself and your dog some patience, training, and love, while trusting that by practicing those things, you will create a relationship worthy of the work you put in.