I didn’t want to leave this blog on such a sad note. Of course losing Rufus has been one of the hardest times in my life and not a second goes by that I don’t wish he was still here with me. My heart is broken right now and anger is still winning. Luckily (or not so luckily at all) I’m kind of a veteran when it comes to grief, so I know that time really does heal just about everything and one day I will remember all of the good times over those last few weeks of pure confusion and pain.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have changed my handle over there. As of right now, that is the only place I’m currently writing but if that changes, I’ll be sure to keep you updated via that account so stay tuned. I wrote a post explaining why I made the change and what the future holds for me as a crazy dog lady that just needs to share her passion for all things canine.
Here is the post:
I’ve been thinking of ways to honor my heart dog during this time of mourning and this phrase keeps coming up again and again. Rufus had behavioral issues which included fear reactivity, defensiveness, and he even nipped a few times when he was extra stressed. However, through training and recognizing his triggers, our relationship never weakened. Of course there were times in which I was extremely frustrated with him, but I knew all of these moments were teachable ones. Rufus was a good dog regardless of these moments. He adored me and others he let in his circle, learned from his mistakes, and was always willing to try my way…even when he really didn’t want to. 😉 He was a good dog because he was meant for me. He made me a behavior nerd, nutrition obsessed, and taught me a whole new level of empathy for those going through their own struggles. He taught me so much in such a short period of time and I will be forever grateful for that…even when grief just wants me to be angry and bitter. Rufus was a good dog because he was exactly the dog I needed during our time together and he taught me so much about myself and what makes me light up in life. And there’s nothing bad about any of that.
Loving Rufus came so easily to me…even when he made it really, really difficult. I had fostered many dogs before him, worked with hundreds of dogs in just about every animal-related field, and then fostered pups after his adoption was finalized. And do you know that I never connected with any of those dogs the way that I did with Ru? Sure there were/are my favorites and there are dogs that absolutely make/made my day brighter whenever I got to work with them, but Rufus was the dog for me. Fostering and then adopting him changed me in a million ways. Our connection was so deep that even those that witnessed it would comment on how we communicated effortlessly without a word being said. He was my litmus test on how I was feeling at any given moment. He was my heart dog and it’s been incredibly hard to even consider loving another dog that way again. And who knows? Maybe I won’t.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t try. I was put on this planet to work with dogs, to nurture those that have been broken or let down by other humans. This kind of connection brings me so much joy and I’d be a fool to let go of all of that. And having my own dog to nurture fully? Well that has been one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done in this life. And I know that I will give my heart to another dog one day and that Rufus would have wanted me to move on and share that love again. It seems close to impossible at this moment but I know this moment will be gone in an instant and I look forward to the moment I lock eyes with a pup who needs me….and who I need just as much.
I’ve felt it before and I will feel it again. It’ll just take time. Because boy oh boy, did I hit the jackpot when I found him.
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.
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…
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.
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.
And Rufus is so thrilled to finally be home. ❤
This is Rosa.
Rosa was actually in my home for less than 24 hours before she met her now forever family and swept them off their feet.
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.
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.
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. ❤
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
Reunited with one of his favorites after four years!
I spent the weekend attending fundraising events for One Tail’s new Portland division. It was a weekend full of newly adopted puppies, current adoptables, delicious food, lots of wonderful people, and plenty of sunshine. And guess what? This photo-happy blogger did not take one picture. Who am I??
Sometimes you just have to let life be life and put the phone away, am I right? I had so much fun catching up with people, schmoozing with all of the dogs, and discussing our next foster move with the board members. Oh, and eating all the vegan food! It was delightful.
I promise to share a few photos once they go live on the rescue’s site, but you’ll just have to take my word for it for now.
And before I go, I just have to mention that One Tail has a brand new adoption center located in downtown Chicago! If you have a few pennies to spare, consider donating to this amazing rescue here. If it wasn’t for them, I would have never fallen in love with fostering. If I had never fallen in love with fostering, I would have never met my 4-legged soulmate. So yeah, they’re kind of amazing.
Have a great week, folks!
How’s everyone’s week going? I just wanted to pop in and let you guys know about a feature I got to be a part of. I had the pleasure of sharing our adoption love story over at Good Dogs & Co, a website that celebrates all things dogs! What could be better than that?? If you’d like, you can click here to check it out. Let me know what you think!