That's ok. They don't mind.
Since it's not all that long since Thanksgiving and we're heading toward Christmas - I've been thinking about what I'm truly thankful for... about what truly brings me happiness in my life.
Bailey is one of those things.
Ten years ago I wanted solid, stable, capable, fearless dogs. Preferably a pair or Rottweilers. I had been training for only a few years, but I was pretty good at it. I dreamed of beautiful militant dogs who asked how high when I told them to jump.
I never got my militant Rottweilers. (but I did eventually learn the Rottweiler in my head and the Rottweiler in real life were two very different breeds)
What I fell in love with was a fearful, anxiety filled, chicken shit German Shepherd mix who just plain shut down when he couldn't deal with the situation at hand. He ran from men, and shook violently in new places. If he was off leash, he just plain ran. I wanted him to learn new things, and all he wanted to do was hide in the corner and shake like a leaf. I loved him dearly, but we did not get along very well for the first few years.
At home, I would call him to me and he would run into his kennel for fear I was going to force him to do something - he didn't know what, and he didn't want to find out. His obedience was surprising great in a familiar place, but his previous training had not been a positive thing in his life.
I felt like all I was able to accomplish with him was to make us both miserable. Some days I just hated him and thought I really made a mistake adopting him. Some days I felt completely unqualified to help him. Technically, I was.
I changed all his commands to German and started to focus on what he needed from me rather than what I wanted from him. I began to find the ability to let go of my unrealistic expectations. Slowly, he started to teach me and I started to figure out how to help him overcome his anxiety.
People who know my dog today simply don't believe me when I tell them the dog they are petting at one time would have run away from them peeing all over himself and shaking violently. Had he been a fear-biter, he never would have made it past 6 months of age.
Now, I truly love working with shy/soft dogs. They force me to turn off the brash personality that comes naturally to me and figure out how to soften myself and help them build confidence and work through their fears.
I love that boy with all my heart and can never repay him for all he has taught me. I'm glad he's getting a chance to live the life he deserves to live now. I hope it continues to be a long and healthy one.
Today, he is registered as: Edles Lehrer vom haus Treehugger
Edles Lehrer = noble teacher (german)
Treehugger = me