What makes a dog good?
I’ve written a lot about Ru’s behavioral quirks and obstacles and I’ve been really honest about how I try my hardest to work through and around them so that he can have as many enriching experiences as possible while also always being mindful of his boundaries.
We had a visitor this weekend. This person is someone that Rufus hasn’t been around in almost four years and even when he was around her back in Illinois, they met less than a handful of times. And even though I was super excited to spend time with her for a long weekend, I was a bit nervous about how Ru would take to a stranger (one that isn’t necessarily a “dog person”) staying in his house for several days. But! I didn’t let nerves deter me. I took the steps needed to make him comfortable and to set him up for success.
So what’d we do?
1.We met our guest outside. We took a mini walk in which no one interacted with each other. We just walked and talked and let Rufus sniff and get into his happy zone.
2.Then we walked inside and kept the mood neutral. She said “hello” to him but did not reach down to pet him. We put her stuff away, handed her some treats, and sat down to visit.
3.She fed Rufus treats as we praised him in our highest “dog mom” voices for being neutral. He licked her hand. Success!!
The rest of the visit was perfect. He would go up to her for a good neck scratch and then come back to me. He followed me around a lot more than usual, but he wasn’t fearful….just a little unsure.
Nothing happened. He didn’t “bond” with her but he also didn’t dislike her in the slightest. It went as perfectly as I could’ve hoped for.
A lot of people (especially those that aren’t completely nerdy over canines) expect a dog to WANT the attention. They expect to meet a dog that is incredibly friendly, excited to meet every single person ever, and that you can easily reach down to pet no matter who you are or where you are. That’s not Rufus. And honestly…that’s not a lot of dogs, now, is it?
Rufus will never be happy-go-lucky in the traditional sense, but I’m more than ok with that. I just want him to be comfortable and content when life hands him a curveball. Through tiny baby steps, he’s shown me that he is willing to do the work and I love that about him.
Rufus is a good dog because he’s mine. I take responsibility for him and I do my best to push him through those rough moments without forcing anything. Our bond is stronger because of these moments and I’m so happy to have him by my side.
My heart dog.