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Today I wanted to quit my dog.

Apr 10, 2023

Today I wanted to quit my dog. I was truly ready to say see ya never and let him fend for himself in the woods. My dog is the type of dog that will do what he wants basically regardless of what anyone else has to say. He will follow his nose to dead animals and god knows whose or what’s poop. He will chase animals, he will hop, climb, dig, and if all else fails blast through fences. He will ignore my requests. He will send me to levels of furious I didn’t even know I was capable of feeling. Today though, I chose a place with a secure fence so he could safely explore off leash. A 4 acre mountain property with beautiful lodge pole pine trees and glimpses of the snow covered peaks in the distance. I’m no rookie, I’ve learned a lot about when I can and can’t trust my dog off leash in his 6 years of life. Today though, he hit me in the face with a curve ball.

As I sat in my rage after realizing that he had squeezed himself under yet another fence to follow his nose, I was over come with panic on top of my rage. We were on private property and here he was out of the designated dog area with the property owner not far away. Not to mention there is a huge population of wildlife in the area that could trigger his chase instinct. I scrambled to figure out how I was going to get him back, there was no gate for me to get through and the fence wasn’t strong enough for me to climb over. After several desperate pleas for him to come to the fence, I was able to snatch his collar and get the leash attached through the fence. Now I had to figure out how to get him back under without alerting the property owner. The 5 foot tall fence was topped by a hot wire that I had to repeatedly touch with my arm while holding his leash up and over the fence for 20 yards before I dragged him back through the same spot he squeezed under in the first place. I held his leash tight,I made him walk at my side. I was harsh, I was a real dick. It felt justified in my rage brain. After making him walk right by me up a steep and icy mountain side, I stopped to catch my breath. I wish I could say that then I calmed down and let my dog enjoy himself, but I didn’t. I continued to make him walk at my side for several more minutes. I finally started to loosen up and let him sniff but I couldn’t let him run free like I had originally intended. 

Nothing infuriates me quite like thinking I had a safe space for my dog to run free and live his best life, only to be played yet again. As you can imagine this isn’t the first time my dog has pulled some hooligan shit like this. I do my best, we train and train and train and train and train. I bend over backwards to meet his needs. We make huge strides in so many ways and I can’t even imagine getting furious with him ever again. Months will go by and I lean into not having to be mad at my dog. Then just when I least expect it, his antics send me right back to my rage.

My dog has so many strengths and amazing behaviors that I love and adore. So many redeeming qualities and behaviors he excels at without much effort on my part. But damnit, I can’t get off easy with him. Not even with all the training and planning in the world. I forgot to mention that I am a professional dog trainer, although I don’t feel like a very good one in these moments. Despite his antics I am very good at what I do. 

My dog teaches me humility, compassion, understanding and to celebrate his wild spirit. He pushes me to realize that he is who he is and all I can do is love him and do my damn best to keep him safe and happy. Today was a stark reminder that control is an illusion. I can’t always control what he does and that is the truth for all dog guardians. In fact the more I try to control him the more he resist’s and we both slip into very unpleasant times together. His spirit is the strongest of any dog I’ve ever known and I’m reminded again today that breaking his spirit with control is a line in the sand I’m not willing to cross. Not because I I can’t but because it would ultimately be futile and a break down of the beautiful relationship we’ve developed over his life.

After we made it home, I took many deep breaths, shed a lot of tears and screamed a lot of expletives. I let it go. I released myself from the rage, from the frustration, from the feelings of failure, the feelings of self doubt and I connected with him. We shared a lovely moment together as I sat on the ground so he could hug me and get pets, a favorite of his. I reminded myself that his life is short and I truly adore him in a way I’ve never adored a dog before. I wouldn’t waste another moment, I joined him in the moment and all was right with us again. 

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