Have you ever watched a service dog, either a guide or police dog? They are amazing. They sit and stay where they are told. They are not distracted. They lie down and wait to be told what to do. There is a special bond between them and their master.
My husband and I adopted a puppy a month after we were married and he quickly became the center of our orbit. He had a sensitive stomach so we started feeding raw, and we do not stay out late because "poor Chaco has been alone three hours." For a time, he even made his way into our bed…really, our bed. We just wanted him to be happy.
If my dog got to do whatever he wanted, he would chase every rabbit or bird he saw. If he got lucky when he caught one, he would shake it in his mouth until it was dead and bring it to me like a prize—that is, if he did not get hit by a car running in the street first. He would eat the food right off our table, run laps in our condo, and jump on us and bark when he wanted to play. He would greet visitors by jumping on them, and never ever be left alone. He would destroy a remote or pair of sunglasses every day. He would wrestle dogs at the dog park and nip the ones he did not like so they would leave him alone.
He would walk me, control me, control my house, and he would be happy. But, I would not be happy. I am not happy with the destroyed Michael Kors prescription sunglasses I discovered the other night. Something has to change, and it is changing.
Now, let me pause for a moment because there are good things about having him. He gives us something to love together and makes our love less selfish. He is adorable. Everyone who meets him likes him, and if they do not, it is their problem. But, it had gotten out of hand. He would bark a very loud bark in your face until he would get you to play with him. I was not his master, I was his mommy. I am stepping it up from mommy to Mother.
As the amazing dog trainer (http://www.dogdoright.com), Ami we found reminded me, "spare the rod, spoil the child." The rod is not just about punishment, but rather guidance. Chaco has been lacking guidance. While he has been happy, that deeper bond that has given dogs the nickname "man's best friend" was missing.
On our first lesson, Ami taught us that our dog should walk with us in such a relaxed manner that his tail is down, his hips swing, his ears are back and every so often, he looks up at us for affirmation and guidance. Although it was the first time they met, this is how he walked with her. With a few tips, he has begun walking that way with me.
Joy is a deeper and more lasting kind of happiness than the usual word denotes. With some guidance, it is possible for Joe, me, and Chaco to find that joy as a family. It will not include anymore destroyed remote controls.
Confession: I am only a part-time housewife. I guess that is why this blog has been idle for the last few months, but I really enjoy it so I am going to make a comeback. Watch me.