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My New Inspiration

Posted: 7/11/2009 | Updated: 3/3/2011 | Submitted By: sands904

My New Inspiration

Logan is normally a very sweet and loving dog who can tell your every mood. There have been numerous times when I have come home from work upset and he has come right over just to sit by me. Just having him there would make me feel better. He is a well trained dog as far as obedience commands go but has some behavior issues. At his peak it was not uncommon for him to be at the end of his leash barking and lunging when another dog approached. I can’t help but feeling that I have been a terrible 'Doggie Parent' in letting him get this way but is there more than that...

Let’s start at the beginning. My husband and I had just got our first dog, Lacey a Chihuahua/Poodle mix.  It didn’t take long for us to realize that she needed a friend. Since she was such a wonderful puppy, we decided to try to find another dog of the same mix. We were unable to find one in the area so I resorted to searching online (which I look back on now and shake my head…what was I thinking?). I located this litter of 5 puppies in Southwest Missouri. We made all of the arrangements which included flying him to us, another decision that I deeply regret.

He arrived at O'Hare on Thursday August 31, 2006. When we arrived at the baggage claim counter to pick him up, we found this scared little heap hiding in the back of the carrier. Looking back, I can't imagine how scary that was for him; I am in tears now just thinking about the pain and fear we put him through. We took him out to the car and set the carrier in the trunk to let him out. We opened the door but he didn't move, not that I blame him this poor little guy had just had his life turned upside down. He was ripped from his mother and littermates in the dead of night to make it to the airport for his flight. I can't even imagine the pain and stress that must have put on him. We eventually resorted to taking the top off the carrier to avoid reaching in and scaring him even more. He rode in my husband's lap all the way home.

At first when we put him down in the kitchen he was very scared. We had Lacey in the other room to let him investigate his new home first. She wanted to play right away but he wasn't so sure. By the end of that day they were cuddled together in a little dog bed sleeping in a fuzzy heap and have been best friends ever since.

We unfortunately were a little late in getting him in a puppy class. He didn't start until he was 8 months old. If I only knew then what I know now (sound familiar), I would have never waited so long. He did fine in class and we took him for walks, to the store and for rides in the car quite often. Besides being shy and somewhat fearful puppy he seemed to be doing fine.

In February 2008, we got the news that my husband was being laid off. This turned our family upside down. He was out of work for a few months and then happened upon a job that was a good 2.5 hour drive from where we live. He was lucky enough to stay with family during the week and would come home on the weekends. This unfortunate event totally changed Logan's life.

I was very stressed during this time and did not realize just how much my mood, actions and stress level affected Logan. I also had less time for him then I had in the past but none of this compared to the heartache he felt over his 'daddy' being gone all the time. Each night when I got home from work, I would take him and Lacey for a walk and play with them for a while. After that Logan would lie by the back door looking very depressed and sometimes whining. He would jump up at every car noise he heard, I believe in hopes it was his 'daddy' coming home. It was heartbreaking to see him in such pain and not know what to do to help him. How do you explain this to a dog? How do you explain that 'daddy' still loves you but just cannot be here right now? I wish there would have been a way.

After almost 8 months of this, we decided it was too much to put Logan through anymore. My husband came home jobless, but at least he was home. It took Logan a while to realize the change. He had become very accustomed to the schedule and seemed to know when Sunday was and would stay very close to 'Daddy' all day long knowing that he would be leaving later that day. He seemed to be able to tell when it was almost time for Steve to leave and would get very anxious, following him around whining. It was great to not have to deal with this routine anymore but how to you tell a dog, it's over, don't worry anymore?

During Steve's time away, Logan had become increasingly protective of Lacey and I, possessive of his toys and showed more signs of aggression toward strangers and other dogs. We used to be able to take him out without much trouble but lately he would bark at every person or dog he met and not just a nice 'How you doing?' bark. If we took him out for a walk or to the store and went in different directions he would dart back and forth whining and pulling on the leash trying to get to the other person. On walks, he was so stressed that he would walk on his back feet at the end of the leash, jumping and alternating between a high-pitched whine and bark. Now that our life had settled down a bit I knew it was time to help Logan as best I could.

I began taking the dogs on separate walks so they could learn to be apart and I could work with them one-on-one. I started by making Logan 'sit' and 'look at me' every few steps. At first it would take up to a couple of minutes for him even to focus on me and listen at all. It made for some very long yet very short walks as we would spend five minutes working on a sit after every step or two.

It is now July and Steve has been back for a little over 8 months. Logan has been making great steps in the right direction. Training was a little slow over the winter as it was too cold and snowy to walk most days and I was working more hours at work. With the unfortunate downturn of the economy I have had my hours cut at work which may have just been a blessing in disguise. I have had the time I need to focus on Logan and his training. We enrolled him in a class in April. He has been steadily continuing to make progress. The trainer there is wonderful and has given me the inspiration that I need to finally get Logan through his issues.

I have been so inspired by her and the progress that I have started to see in Logan that I have started to read some books on dog behavior and have found a new passion of my. Maybe one day I will be fortunate enough to be able to help others through similar situations but for now my goal is to help the little dog who has brought so much joy to my life everyday that he has been a part of it.

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