The story we’re about to tell is one we hear very often at Powerhouse K9. It can easily happen to the the most dedicated of dog owners.
A family owns three dogs; the wife has two medium Shepherds, and the husband has a small Jack Russell. The dogs usually get along fine and have no issues for years. Out of nowhere, the small dog pushes playing and having fun into super annoying behavior, with no respect of personal space to the other dogs and…one dog attacks.
One Shepherd had had enough and let the Russel know by tearing off a piece of his neck. The pictures were terrifying, and of course the owner was mortified. Sadly we start talking about the possibility of putting the dog down.
Most of the time when we get these calls, the person on the other end of the line is asking us to validate their desire for euthanasia. We never commit to it right away, though. We simply state that this happens all the time and it definitely can be fixed, but will take a lot of hard work. That’s where we usually lose them. Most never call back. Gladly, that wasn’t the case this time!
This time, a wonderful owner who was trying to be as open-minded as possible walked in with a look of despair and brokenness. We’ve all been there.
We walk over to the truck and I hear her dog growling, letting us know not to get closer. This is her truck and her human and she was not happy about meeting strangers. I ignored her using a side posture. I talked with the mom as I inched closer, and when I was close enough I said: “now let’s get moving.” We started walking and before you know it, I was able to take the leash from the mom. We went on a long walk and talked about how the owner always had to look around the corner and watch for other dogs, or how the dog would bark and growl at anything walking by their vehicle. She mentioned how hard that’s been on her, and how that’s affected her family.
Of course, I felt an instant connection to this woman as I’ve been where she is; I’ve seen it time and time again, and I know how scary it is and how hopeless she must have felt. However, the difference between me and her that day was that I knew I had some tools and skills in my pocket that were going to change their lives for the better! She was going to be able to have a safe, healthy, and happy home with all the important pieces still there. The trick was getting her to accept a tool that she’s heard and seen be used incorrectly all her life; a tool she was absolutely against, and one her husband swore he would never use.
I took her by the hand and looked her right in the eye. “Leave your dogs at home, and come back next week,” I said. “I’m going to blow your mind!”
Next week she arrived, and we immediately got to work with the e-collar. I show her all the functions, demonstrating the timing and consistence necessary for successful training. I even demonstrate how this training method is not painful.
At the end of the lesson, she said “I’ve got to get this home and show my husband. He said no way in hell would you put one of those on my dog!”
“No worries,” I replied. “I do this all day, everyday!”
She returned with the “problem” dog and we get to work. By lesson two, we have a COMPLETELY different dog! She went from growling at me and not leaving mom’s side, to hustling on every command, and exploring with confidence. Thanks to the dedication and hard work of her owner, I can see we have now have full control of this dog.
At the next appointment we got to work on the little one. Easy peasy.
Today, I will be working with the other Shepherd. Then, we will help reintegrate all three dogs together again.
This is a story about a hero. This woman, this dedicated owner, chose not to do the easy thing, but the right thing. With a so-called “problem dog”, we may be quick to want to find it a new home, or drop it off at the shelter, or worse. This lady chose to learn about something she was uncomfortable with. She put in hour after hour of hard work, spending the time necessary to fix her issue.
It was my pleasure to help her, she told me she’s been going all over town saying great things about our team. This is only one of the reasons I do what I do, helping one family at a time.
– Angela Power, Owner, Powerhouse K9