My Very Own Dog

Part 2 of a series.  Read part 1 here:

We found Cheyenne through a craigslist ad.  We had met a few dogs prior, but none were a good fit.  They were too pushy or overwhelming and would flood Delta with too much energy and input.  Cheyenne was the opposite.  The first time they met, she was just chewing a stick on the front lawn, lost in her own little world.  She didn’t even get up to greet us when we approached, not even to greet Delta.  Once they did meet, it was pure bliss.  There was such an easiness to their interaction which has evolved into a wonderful relationship over the years.  She was the one, and we all knew it, including Delta.  Amanda left the final decision up to me though.  Delta was her dog after all, so this was going to be mine.  Needless to say Cheyenne came home with us that day, and though the intention was to get a dog to keep Delta company, what was really happening was I was taking the first step on a journey I had never imagined I would find myself.  Yes, Delta had her companion, and things couldn’t have worked out better.  But there was something bigger and deeper going on that I just couldn’t see yet.  Even though she had a name already, to make the transition complete we gave her a new name, Jackie.

Now that I had my own dog I needed to learn everything I could about dogs, behavior and training.  I became ravenous for knowledge and information, and if you know me you know that this is just my nature.  Once I am involved, I am INVOLVED.  Before you think I’m strange and obsessive, there is precedence for why I took this on the way I did.  In my younger days I did have a dog.  However I didn’t know anything about dogs, and the one person who did, my father, was no longer around, having passed away when I was 10.  This lack of knowledge and my own emotional instability during that period of my life contributed to creating a dog that was fearful and manic.  Though I loved him to death, I knew my lack of knowledge was a huge detriment to his quality of life.  I vowed to myself that I would never get a dog unless I was fully committed to the venture, when I could give the dog what he needs.  Because of my first dog I acquired this “charge”, and that charge drove me to pursue this quest, which ultimately has brought me where I am today.

I wish I could say that I went and picked up the Natural Dog Training book, and that I studied it and implemented all the things that Kevin outlined in it.  Unfortunately I can’t say that because that isn’t what happened.  In fact, I had completely forgotten about Kevin’s book by this time.  See, when Jackie Kritikos, the woman from whom Amanda adopted Delta, had lent her Kevin’s book, she lent it to her with the stipulation that it be returned because at that time it had gone out of print.  It was a truly rare commodity indeed.  So I began where most people in my situation begin, lost and confused, looking for anyone who seemed to know what they were talking about.  And this is when I was introduced to the first professional trainer I would work with.

I must preface what I am about to write, by saying that the trainer I worked with was actually a very fun person and in many ways I enjoyed the time spent with him as he was very charismatic and funny.  Unfortunately those traits did not come across in his training methodology.  He was a dominance trainer, and as is the case with all dominance trainers, he got results but those results came at a cost.  In a matter of about 5 weeks, the dogs were “trained” to walk nicely on leash(which actually only took one training session of corrections with a prong collar), sit, down, go to place, and the recall, which was trained using remote collars.  Knowing next to nothing, this all seemed to be working great.  The dogs seemed calm and very well behaved.  People remarked at how well behaved and obedient they were, which would give me a sense of pride.  It was only years later that I could see that what was expected of me as a child, I was expecting from my dogs.  By behaving well and doing what I was told, I could avoid trouble.  I had lived so much of my life in a state of abject fear.  What I was seeing now was a glimpse into myself and the evolution that was about to take place but I couldn’t see it completely yet.  I had inklings that things weren’t right, but everything seemed to be working so well that it was easy to ignore.  And just when I started having doubts, I turn on the tv and what do I see?  A charismatic trainer with his own tv show, and that show was the Dog Whisperer.  Whatever doubts or misgivings I was having about the dominance training all went out the window having Cesar Millan in our living room every week telling me that everything I was doing was right.

After my first dog I had vowed to myself that I would do whatever I had to do to create the best environment for my next dog.  Instead I was repeating the same pattern of my youth, only this time I couldn’t attribute it to lack of knowledge or youth.  I was putting my own need for control above what was in the best interest for my dogs.  I was acting out of fear rather than love and trust.  I didn’t trust them because I didn’t trust myself.  These are things I’ve only realized in the past few years, as I’ve grown and evolved.  I can see now that I was recreating the very thing I was trying so hard to avoid.  I was stuck in a cycle that I didn’t know how to break, so I stayed in it.  And the more invested I became in how obedient my dogs were, the more I resisted the notion that anything was wrong.  Until I met a dog that wouldn’t let me hide in fear any longer……………..

Continue to part 3:


5 thoughts on “My Very Own Dog

  1. I love these recent postings, Sang!! This journey with the “girls” has been a journey rediscovering your SELF. Thank you for your willingness to share such a personal journey so that others might benefit.

  2. A beautiful Part 2. Many aspects of your journey sound familiar. I wonder about how our common experiences and history attracted us to NDT.

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