Our story begins 4 years ago when a little puppy by the name of Bailey came into my life. I adopted her from an animal shelter when she was just 2 months old and I was 19 years of age, fresh out of High School. I had no idea what I was getting myself into!
I got the single most fearful dog I have ever seen. I didn’t even think a dog can be this mentally unstable. I was unprepared for her hundreds phobias and extreme reactions. I felt lost and incompetent. Not to mention, terribly jealous of people with normal dogs. Family and friends offered their advice, but I was always very firm on my decision to only raise my furry baby with positive reinforcement. Granted, I didn’t know much about it at the time, but that’s when my journey truly began.
I began researching positive reinforcement, learning more about reactivity, managing fears and most of all, body language. It was a lot of trial and error. Patience. Compromises. Tears of helplessness and tears of joy. Slowly but surely, through consistent work, we started seeing progress. I learned that clear communication is the most important thing. I had to make sure my dog feels safe with me at all times, even if she finds the rest of the world scary, I needed her to trust me. Today, we are at a place where I can say that Bailey and I trust each other 100%. Life with her is not always easy, but it’s our version of normal and we can do most of the things together. I accept her limitations and at the same time work on expanding her comfort zone. She has already come so incredibly far – farther than I ever thought possible. However, this is a lifelong process; and it is an absolute blessing. Bailey has opened the doors to positive training for me and she has also taught me so much about myself. This bond, this experience, however hard some days, is our Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket!
Aside from Bailey, there are three other dogs living in our home, two of which are also rescues. Both of them came with their own stories, their own pain points, their own potentials. Lady, the English setter, had a horrible separation anxiety. Chilly, the border collie, had a great fear of men. Everything that we had gone through with Bailey served as a platform for further work with our new additions to the family. We already knew about positive training, how to cope with fearfulness, how to build confidence etc. It was much, much easier. We had systems in place that helped us raise our rescues into confident, happy dogs. They are a very balanced pack and it’s amazing to watch them grow together.
Rescues are a work in progress. It is my opinion that because of this fact alone, you need a support system. It’s hard to keep it together every single day of your life, isn’t it? Let this website be your support system. Just four years ago I felt like I’m the only dog owner in the world struggling with a reactive dog – quite a silly thought to have! Now I know how many of us there are! If you feel lost, alone, isolated, misunderstood and at the end of your dog training wits; I am here for you. This community is here for you. Dive into blog posts, join the email list, follow us on Facebook and let’s help your dog overcome his struggles! Are you ready to be a dog parenting rockstar? Hell to the yes!