Help! I want a second dog but I don’t want to mess up.

(…just so this blog doesn’t get too wordy, I’ve thrown in some photos of Mr. Ru for good measure.)

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It’s true. I struggle with these conflicting feelings on a pretty consistent basis. The dog lover in me longs for a second companion, especially as I see Rufus grow older and slow down a little bit. We just moved to Colorado, so hiking is back in full swing. And while Rufus can still hike with the best of them, I know he’s going to require more TLC as the weather heats up. If I don’t have a dog to hike with, it’s a whole lot less exciting. The dog is like 80% of the fun!

But as soon as I get in full second dog mode, the doubts start creeping in.

What if she has separation anxiety or other behavioral issues? Even if we go through a foster-based rescue, those traits can sneak in very easily. I should know. I had many fosters with severe separation anxiety. And now that we live in a full-blown complex, the idea of a screeching pup stresses me the heck out! And let’s not even get into the idea of having another reactive dog to manage…

What if she’s too high energy? You know. The kind of dog who can’t settle. The pup who needs a job to do 24/7. I’m all for training and tricks and excitement, but we are a super chill family. Like…we need a pup who knows how to Netflix hard on Sundays just as much as they need to love the outdoors.

-What if Rufus feels betrayed? Ok, this isn’t a real fear. Despite his grumpy nature, Rufus is pretty easy to match up with the right dog. His type: mostly females (or submissive but confident males), a little feisty but not hyperactive, under 70 lbs, and not too fluffy. Yes that’s right. My dog hates super fluffy dogs. He’s the worst/best. So as much as I’d love to pick out our second dog, I know Rufus will get the last word.

-What if we don’t connect? I have had fosters that were perfectly fine pups but I never really connected with them. And while I didn’t hate my time with them, I was very happy to see them go to their forever homes. It turns out I’m just as picky as my dude, which is fine but also a little scary when going into finding a second dog.

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So…I guess what I’m realizing is that I should probably foster for a little while before diving into the “forever dog” territory just to see how it feels. I think that’s the best solution, right?

I would love to hear from those of you who have had similar struggles when adding a second (or third or fourth) dog into your home. What doubts did you have? How did you overcome detachment feelings if you had them? Am I just being an over-dramatic weirdo?  Seriously, guys. I want to hear it all!

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Help!

The Many Faces of Ru

Maybe this isn’t the most popular thing to say, but having a reactive dog often feels like a burden. With behavioral issues that even I don’t fully grasp sometimes and often seem like they come out of nowhere, Rufus is complex to say the least. Despite all of this , I love him with my whole heart.

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I think that those of us who have fallen hard for reactive dogs are drawn to the “virtual platform” of sharing because it’s our way of showcasing our complex pups in all of their glory. We get to share those moments of pure bliss when our dogs are 100% themselves. Nothing is making them tense. Nothing is making them unsure. They are just dogs. Wonderful, uncomplicated canines.

And sure – progress happens and there are even times when he just plain surprises me with his intuitiveness in certain situations, but I’m just being real about the bigger picture. Rufus is a tough cookie and he makes me reexamine our training techniques over and over again. For years now, guys! Years! Ugh…

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But then there are the moments when it’s just the two (or three) of us. And I remember why I adore this guy so much and why I’m so happy he came into my life. Screwball behavior and all.

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Cold Feet, Warm Hearts

Since arriving in Colorado in early February, the weather has been all over the place. One week it’s in the 70s and the next it’s back down in the 30s. But no matter what temp it is, it’s almost always sunny! This has been a very welcome change from the Pacific Northwest.

Little known fact? I absolutely adore the snow and (moderate) cold. Give me a sunny winter day and we can have a whole lotta fun!

A few weeks ago, we had our first snowfall since arriving and took Ru on an epic mini hike. Since he’s kind of an older guy now, I try to keep our hikes around the 4-6 mile range when it’s mild outside. And in the summer? Well he’s not a fan of the heat…so I’m guessing 2-3 miles will be his max. I will make sure to take it slowly and see how altitude affects him in the warmer weather. My poor old man.

Just a few photos from said hike two weeks ago:

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Ugh. I’ll never get over the view.

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And then he snoozed his happy little face off.

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That one time we disappeared.

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Listen up.
Ok guys. This blog is not obsolete…not yet anyway.
Here’s the long and short of where we’ve been:
-Left Oregon on September 29th and traveled to Colorado. Stayed about 8 days with friends and in various Airbnb’s. Decided we absolutely wanted to move there.
-Traveled the rest of the way to Illinois to spend what we thought would be just a few weeks with friends and family.
-Life happened. Jobs fell through. Holidays kept coming! At one point, one of us (the dude) even started a job in the Chicago suburbs hoping that we could make it work. He hated it. We looked briefly at apartments in said ‘burbs and decided we just didn’t want this path for ourselves. Dude quits job.
-Plan B is set in motion.
-After lining up a few interviews, dude travels to Colorado by himself and lands a job. SCORE!
-Since we were on a pretty tight deadline, he had to making a very quick decision on an apartment. It’s not ideal by any means, but we can make it work for awhile. More on that later…
-We are officially Colorado residents! Hooray!
…and it only took us less than 5 months! Ugh.
So yeah. That’s where we’ve been. And while it was a really tough 5 months for me, I still wanted to blog and write and create. I really did…but we were kind of on borrowed wi-fi and it all became a pain in the butt. And yes, I was a little blue. It happens. All apologies, guys. I didn’t mean to abandon you.
So consider this a formal invitation to come back to the blog. Please come back! We’ve missed this little space.

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And Rufus is so thrilled to finally  be home. ❤ 

24-Hour Foster Dog |Farewell, Rosa

This is Rosa.

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Rosa was actually in my home for less than 24 hours before she met her now forever family and swept them off their feet.

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Now I don’t usually recommend doing introductions so quickly after a new pup comes into your home, but Rosa is of the happy-go-lucky velcro dog variety. She just wanted her people and I could see that immediately.

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The adopters had a stellar application and an amazing setup for a dog like Rosa – a community of friends, a momma who stays at home with her two little kids, and a beautiful backyard. It was a no-brainer.

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We had a great night getting to know this sweet girl and she became attached to me within the hour. Of course, now she can channel that passion into her forever family.

Even though it was short lived, I’m so happy I got to hang out with this beautiful soul. Happy trails, Miss Rosa. ❤

A Good Dog | When a Fearful Dog Succeeds

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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. 

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The Dog Goes | How to Travel with a Fearful Dog

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For anyone out there that knows about the anxiety that comes with loving a reactive or fearful dog, know that you are absolutely not alone. And your dog doesn’t have to be either…

I know that the easy solution can be to just leave your dog at home, but that may not be what’s best for you or your dog.

Rufus has some special needs when it comes to making him happy. While he is weary and often indifferent towards new people, he absolutely loves being with me and he loves exploring new places. Heavy foot traffic and city buzz doesn’t seem to affect him in the slightest. But a stranger bending down to give him attention? Well, that’s just not his cup of tea.

Taking him to new hiking spots is one thing. There is usually little to no human interaction and wide open spaces are a breeze. But sometimes we travel for longer periods, which means staying in hotels and exploring new cities and local parks full of people. Here’s what I’ve learned in the past several years about keeping Rufus comfortable:

  1. Keep him close. When navigating a new city, I keep Rufus close to my side. While I have a tendency to allow him to lead (without pulling) during our neighborhood walks at home, this just isn’t acceptable in new places. He seems to find comfort in letting me lead and I find comfort in knowing a person will have to approach me first before they reach for my dog.
  2. Keep him busy. If for whatever reason we need to stop somewhere and rest or eat, I make sure to keep Ru busy so that he’s not overwhelmed with obsessing over the people around him. I bring treats, keep him in long “sits” and “stays”, and interact with him constantly. It may make things a little less low-key for me but as long as he’s at ease, it’s worth it.
  3. Praise, Praise, Praise. No calm or obedient moment goes unnoticed! When he’s calm, I praise him. When he’s enjoying himself, I praise him. When he’s just being a normal dog and not focusing on a group of people approaching, I praise him. And when he meets someone successfully, I have a freaking celebration! I may sound like a lunatic, but who cares? I am not above making baby noises in public if it means my dog gets that being a happy, balanced dude is the best thing in the world. No shame here, people.

 

Of course there’s never a one-size-fits-all approach to handling a pup with behavioral issues, but this keeps us happy. Just by being cautious and alert, I have made sure Rufus has as many experiences as possible. He absolutely loves going to as many places as possible with me and these little tips make that possible. Of course he’s improved so much since we adopted him, but the truth is that he will always be a little “quirky” when it comes to socializing. And as long as everyone is safe and educated, I’ve learned that I can work with whatever quirky curveballs he decides to throw at me. And it turns out this guy really loves to keep me on my toes…

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Reunited with one of his favorites after four years!