My Dog Molly: The Paradox

A girl's discovery about her dog and herself.


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10 things I love about you

Having a reactive dog can be a lot of work. It can be exhausting, frustrating, and heart breaking.

Knowing that exercise is critical for these dogs I walk Molly at least an hour and a half a day (often more) along with lots of play and training time. But while most people find walking their dogs relaxing I always have to remain aware of everything around me…aware but not ‘on guard’ as I don’t want her to feel that energy. And while most times she’s okay there is the occasional moment where all the training flies out the window and she’s regresses completely. It’s at those times I feel overwhelmed, scared, and…I hate this one…like I can’t do it anymore.

There have been a few moments where I’ve considered re-homing Molly, thinking there must be someone else better for her. But then she does something; something small and simple but it makes me love her even more. And while she’s been great lately I figured I need to keep those little things she does top of mind so I don’t feel like giving up again.

So here are 10 things I love about my girl Molly:

10. When she wants me to do something she will stand in front of me and stare with furrowed brow and ‘humph’…not bark, not whine, but ‘humph’.
9. How she nearly bounces out of her fur the moment I pick up the “chuck-it” and head toward the backyard.

8. Every time I give her a piece of cheese she performs every trick I taught her in such quick succession that she exhausts herself…and I haven’t even asked her to do anything yet.

7. Whenever we play soccer she always has to have a deflated ball in her mouth.

6. The way she latches on to my arm like a sloth holding a branch when I’m scratching her belly.

5. The sheer exuberance she shows when rolling around on a freshly mowed lawn.

4. When I come home and she’s laying on the floor with her bum and tail wiggling like mad.

3. The fact that she tolerates me ‘decorating’ her for special holidays.

2. How she loves to cuddle first thing in the morning or when she’s sleepy.

1. Her shiny black noes and loving eyes.

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i am rubber and you are glue…

For the last two weeks I got to enjoy family, friends, the ocean, seafood, hiking, and camping. The only thing missing was M. Because I had to fly for nine hours it was best that she stay at the kennel with people she knew and care about her. I try to tell myself she has fun there but she always comes back exhausted and longing for peace. This time she came back with kennel cough, or rather, Bordetella.

Yes, she was vaccinated but like the human flu vaccine it doesn’t protect against all strains. The owner of the kennel was upfront about the whole thing and already had the vet up to visit her and start antibiotics. She’s already on the mend but I can sense it is tiring her out a little. To sweeten the healing a little I’m also giving her some unpasteurized local honey to sooth the throat. She seems to like it.

We start back with the socialization training this week but instead of involving another dog and risking it getting infected we are just going to do a few walks and see how she interacts with the world. It’s a little less controlled but so too are our walks. And after last night’s walk I’m learning that sometimes people are more vicious than dogs.

Everything started out perfect. Molly was by my side the whole way just enjoying the world around her. Because of the heat I decided to take her on a lower pathway that was well sheltered by trees. I tend to avoid this path as it can make for some tight quarters should another dog come along and I don’t want to set M up for failure. But it was a quiet day and I thought I’d take my chances.

We were almost through the trail when I noticed a lovely little Boarder Collie coming towards us off leash…note…this is NOT an off leash area, I avoid those for M’s sake. I saw the owner and yelled out calmly, “my dog can be reactive, please call your dog back to you.” He didn’t respond so I yelled out again. Finally, he called his dog but she didn’t respond and kept coming towards us. It wasn’t until the dog was about five feet in front of us did M react, and not pleasantly. I proceeded to pull her into the shrubs and put myself between her and the approaching dog. Finally, the owner grabbed his dog’s collar and muttered something unintelligible. Frustrated I said to him, “You realize this is not an off leash park.”

Well, that set him off on a nasty, rude tangent calling me a variety of names and trying to insult me. Then he proceeded to say he was going to call the police because my dog should be muzzled. Now this confused me because I now had control over her and she was calmly sitting behind me as he continued to berate me with insults. I tried to engage him in an adult conversation but he seemed to only want to rant, yell, and scream obscenities. It was horrible. Even his dog was cowering…which concerned me especially if that interaction was indicative of his day-to-day temperament.

I did respond back to him and I’m not overly proud of it. Ideally I should have just moved on but I didn’t. I kept trying to get him to calm down and understand what I was trying to say but he would have none of it. Eventually, I did move on…shaken and upset that someone would behave that way. His words directed at me really didn’t hurt, I kept remembering that childhood rhyme “I am rubber and you are glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” What bothered me most was what he was saying about my dog–she handled herself extremely well in this scenario…better than he did!

All I can do is wonder what possesses a grown person to behave in such an awful manner. Perhaps I’m naive but┬ámaybe he was having a terrible time of things and I was his trigger and he now regrets his behaviour. One can only hope right?

In the meantime, my little girl is healing and playing quietly with her squirrels. ­čÖé

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