As anyone who has been following me knows, I’ve been looking for a dog that can do the work I really need. It’s been one hell of an adventure. I’ve gone through rescues. I’ve talked to breeders. I’ve gotten the run down on why what I want is simply impossible. I’ve heard it all, and then some, in this whole process. I’m totally exhausted by it, but what I haven’t had was a dog.
Today we went on an adventure to a breeder to talk about a trained dog. He doesn’t have any puppies available currently, but he does have two dogs that he’s trained as a part of his own training program. I was set to meet them today.
I have to admit, I had my heart set on the darker of the two. That pup was younger and had the sweetest face. I was in love as soon as I saw the picture. Plus, I liked both of her parents when I met them, so I knew that was the dog I wanted.
When I got there, the dog I originally had my heart on was sweet, affectionate, and a mush. Early on I had kind of leaned her direction, until I was suggested to try them both on a walk. The little darker dog was sweet and cute, but I was just not inspired by her. I may as well have been walking a lab. She was excellent on the lead, very responsive, and eager to please. It was as seamless as if I wasn’t walking a dog at all. The only proof was the way she insisted on leaning up on my leg while we walked. It wasn’t a bad thing, but I kind of felt like my expectations fell flat.
The other dog, on the other hand, the one with the more classic look that I had discounted from the beginning, in part because she was older, but also because I just didn’t like her look as much, she was more of what I expected. She was definitely stronger. She was a bit more willful. She didn’t just take direction and do as she was told. She required a little more of a focus. I found myself talking to her the whole time I walked her about, which made me feel totally at ease and at home. I made commentary on how she had to sniff everything, told her it wasn’t a race, even told her if she wasn’t going to heel then we were going to have words. I fell right into an easy pace with her and it was comfortable, natural.
We then sat and talked for a while about the two dogs and their different personalities. One was more of a velcro dog, which could be seen by the way she stuck by her trainer like glue. The other one was a lot more independent. She ranged about, sniffing around, finding a ball, and playing with rocks and sticks. We talked a good deal about the younger of the two and what makes her a perfect service dog in every way, and briefly brushed over the reasons my favorite wasn’t the perfect match for everyone. It almost sounded as though they expected me to go with my original favorite, but I had to admit, by personality, my favorite leaned towards the dog I didn’t like so much in the start.
After a while of spending time with both dogs, they decided to put the other one away so I could focus my attentions on the one I clicked better with. It was a logical choice, and I’m glad they did. I hung out with her for a while. We tried out her block commands, which she didn’t do flawlessly, but she did do. It seemed more and more like she was a good fit for me. She even did that little head cock when I took her stick away and then was nice enough to give it back. She gave me the rock she’d picked up too, because apparently I could be trusted with her favorite things.
In not terribly long I was offered a chance to play ball with her. Let me tell you, that dog loves her ball! She flew out after them every time I threw it. She excitedly brought it back and chewed it until finally deciding I could have it back. After wiping my hand off between drool soaked ball throws, my jeans were pretty soaked through. It was kinda gross, I will not lie! But she was quite the happy pup. She only went to bring the ball back to her trainer the first time, then she decided I was clearly fun to play with and brought it back to me every time. She decided she was done and laid in the field with her ball until she was finally called back in. She brought me the ball, ready for me to take it again, but not really wanting me to because she was tired. I patted my leg and walked back to everyone else and she fell in beside me, about two feet away, and trotted over to everyone. I think that’s what really did it for me.
After that, her trainer smiled, watching her constantly coming back to sit and hang out with me. It was kind of comical that this dog that wasn’t known to be clingy kept coming over to be next to me, behind me, somehow near me. I hadn’t expected that, especially when I had first gotten to know her. She warmed up to me pretty quickly. I warmed up to her too. I was surprisingly comfortable with her, and playing with her just seemed the natural thing to do. I think there’s definitely a moment when you can tell you “click.” I think we had that moment today, and that spoke volumes to me.
I have to admit, she’s not the perfect dog. She’s a little bit strong willed, which will mean I’m going to have to be on her from time to time, which isn’t really a problem. It was actually really grounding to have to remind her to focus on me while walking, and to see her sniff along the way as we went. Apparently she only does that outside, not in stores, so that’s a definite plus. She’s a female dog, and I wanted a male, so that’s an unfortunate point, but I can live with that. Her trainer admitted that her training might not be spot on because she’s been done with it for a year and may need a refresher, which I’m okay with. She’s a little smaller than I wanted, which isn’t a horrible thing. I can work with that. Overall, the down sides to her as a dog, not talking about her price, aren’t all that big.
At the same time, she’s got this incredible personality. She’s independent, which is really kind of a must for me. I don’t want a dog I have to direct all the time. They need to understand what needs to be done and do it. If I have a panic attack, she’ll respond even if what she needs to do isn’t what I think I need her to do. Her slight tendency to pull isn’t horrible because pulling will be the best way to help me find exits. She won’t submit when I pull on her harness a little bit. She’s got enough spunk to keep her going, and obviously has the energy to keep up with me. Most importantly, she found herself gravitating towards me a lot. I gave her the stick back. She gave me the rock and I let her take it back. Then we played ball, and when we were done, she got to hang onto the ball. Those were the points that I noticed she started to warm up to me the most. She did that little head cock for the stick and that was the start of it all.
I know I need to sleep on this. I can’t make a decision based on my love of her at first sight, but all of this comes with the support of witnesses, and not just her trainer. One of my readers (who you’re hearing a lot about these days) was with me and she saw it too. She feels like this just might be the right thing for me.
But sleep will be good. My allergies are trying to kill me. My back is hurting from being out and about and working my muscles. I know my arm will hurt because of the whole ball throwing thing. I tweaked my elbow and should have quit, but I didn’t. I need rest, relaxation, and time to clear my head of all this so I can think logically. Undoubtedly, I’m going to write more on this later.