There are days that I turn into the Wicked Witch of the West. My skin turns green, I’m hunched over and cranky. If you have a reactive dog or one with some unpleasant behaviors, I’m sure you have felt this envy at some point. Maybe it’s when you go over to a friends house and their dog greets you so politely or at the park and you see a dog playing fetch off leash. I especially feel the jealousy when we’re at festivals or on a restaurant patio and other people’s dogs are being calm and patient and even enjoying the hustle and bustle.
I had such high hopes when we got our first dog. I dreamed of having a dog to take to events or maybe even a therapy dog. Through mistakes of my own, his past, and probably genetics, we ended up with a reactive dog. So, to see other pairs walking happily up and down the sidewalks without a care in the world in perfect harmony, it can hurt knowing that we don’t have that and maybe never will.
I’ve got news for you though. The grass isn’t always greener and NO ONE is perfect. Yes, there are well behaved service dogs out there that are pretty close to perfect, but they’ve had extensive, professional training and most likely hand picked from a genetically sound litter (there are lots of rescue dogs out there that make great therapy dogs, but they are also picked based on temperament). And yes, that golden retriever looks perfect from across the street, unleashed and with a wonderful recall, but he might chew his mom’s Jimmy Choo’s when he gets home.
My family had a dog that was pretty close to perfect. He was an old soul: mellow and calm. You could take him anywhere and he was fine. But he did zoomies, he wasn’t a cuddler, and he had spaniel ears that had to be cleaned constantly or they stunk (not his fault). He was an easy dog, one with good genetics and a well socialized developmental period thanks to the breeder, but he still had his quirks.
My current dog, Mo, is reactive. He barks and lunges at people and dogs. He barks at weird noises and resource guards toys. He hates pain and is suspicious of being handled. He will growl and snap when provoked. He chases squirrels and digs up the yard. He is a handful, but he is so smart, affectionate, expressive, funny, sassy, he walks loose leash 80% of the time, he can push a cabinet door closed, he checks on me when I’m sad, he seeks comfort when he’s scared, he heals a bad day, he doesn’t chew my house up, and once he knows you, he’ll love you forever.
I’m done being envious. Mo may not have met our initial expectations, but silly me for having any in the first place! I have a wonderful dog that has taught me more than I could have hoped and brought laughter and love into our lives.
And you should think about dumping some water on that Wicked Witch of the West, too. Tell me what makes you jealous or about how your dog didn’t meet you first expectations!
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