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!
There’s no doubt that I love Rufus with my whole heart. He is absolutely one of the best little souls I’ve ever known.
And as much as I adore him, he sometimes get demoted to my daily chore. Of course this isn’t intentional – us humans just seem to be so freaking busy all of the time, we often get caught up in our own stuff, forgetting about the little people.
Rufus is not a “little people.”
But sometimes I get overwhelmed with life and forget to spend true quality time with him. Sure, we walk several miles a day every single day, but am I really paying attention to him as my companion? Not always. He just happens to be on the other end of the leash while my mind floods with thoughts and to-do lists.
I’m so grateful that Rufus is a low-maintenance pup, but sometimes that makes it easier to go about my day. He will happily lay at my feet for hours while I work on the computer, never making a peep or even asking to go outside. His bladder is made of steel. It’s so easy to stay busy or distracted when no one is telling you otherwise.
Of course, this mode of autopilot doesn’t last for long. Sometimes it just takes me abeat to realize how wonderful this bond is and how much it completes me as a dog owner and as a human being.
So yesterday, we rekindled our friendship. There was a long hike with plenty of training opportunities and treats involved, a belly rub accompanied by a game of tug, and an extra special cuddle session on the couch before we headed off to bed. Maybe it sounds dramatic, but it’s just what I needed to put everything back into perspective.
You’re never too busy to enjoy the little things, so take a second and pet your dog. He’s waiting.