This is where I admit we failed our girl. When we adopted Emma she was fearful and was anxious around dogs. I think I have discussed her background more in other posts. Short story is that Emma was extremely timid, coming from a home where she was bullied by the enormous dog she lived with. I worked with her diligently and she relaxed quickly in our home. Within 6-8 weeks she had become comfortable here. She was happy and content and loved to play – something she didn’t know how to do when we got her. We had one cat, Jack, when Emma came home with us. Emma was gentle with Jack from day one, 4 months later we brought home our kitty Clover. Emma was fond of Clover right away, showing gentleness and interest. Clover would sleep with Emma and it was very sweet.
When we adopted Emma it was or plan to get 2 dogs. We actually wanted to get a protective breed dog but knew that wouldn’t be good for Emma. Large animals intimidated her.
Emma was doing so well that we thought the time was right. We discussed our options at length and were certain a puppy would be perfect. We considered how sweetly she treated our little kitty and our 4 children. We considered how much she loves to run and play. We wanted to get a dog that would fit her well but would grow to be a good sized dog, hopeful she would bond in a healthy way with a larger dog. We thought we did everything right by her and we were primarily considering a puppy from a litter at a local animal rescue. I wanted to eventually have a goldendoodle but they are quite expensive and I didn’t see that happening.
I truly believe it was a God thing the way Remy became available to us. It was an answer to prayer I didn’t see coming. He is a wonderful dog and I love him up to the moon and I’m not sure if it is good or bad overall but Emma has had a terrible time lately. She just hasn’t been herself and anxiety we never anticipated has surfaced. With that anxiety has come some aggression.
Maybe this is a blessing because we see the problem and maybe we wouldn’t have otherwise and now we are trying to help Emma deal with something she needs to deal with. Ultimately, this is probably good but I hate that she has been out of sorts and that I know we failed her in some way. It is our responsibility to help her through this do that she can be a whole and healthy dog.
I read extensively and determined that I could help her to a degree but she needed professional help. Emma needs to be properly socialized and that will be best done by someone who has a better understanding of dog communication and in an environment where many stable dogs are available.
I researched dog trainers in our area who specialize in working with aggression and I was most comfortable with Nino, owner of K9 Academy International. On Wednesday I took Emma and Remy to his facility for a temperment test. They actually did quite well together. Nino explained to me that I shouldn’t allow Emma to hog toys and treats. He recommended a change in how their crates are set up and some tips for how I need to correct Remy’s bad puppy manners because he was a bit of a pest. The aggression I was concerned about between them didn’t concern Nino as much. He explained that Emma had to set boundaries for Remy and I had to allow a healthy amount of that. I felt much relief about all of that. However, Emma does has a problem with other dogs and for her to be a healthy dog we need to work through that.
I trust that Nino is the best guy for the job and I chose to start a lengthy boarding training and behavior modification program for her. It is recommended 6-8 weeks of boarding training. The cost is $240 a week and the very thought of that makes me cry. It will take ages for us to get through this but I want her well… and thankfully our kids love peanut butter and jelly! We will send her one week at a time as often as we can afford it. I wonder if Nino needs a cleaning lady? Too bad bartering has gone out of style.
So, Emma is away until the 19th and I have so far resisted the urge to call and ask about her. I’ll probably break down today. I know this is what is best for her but it is a significant financial bleed. I homeschool 4 boys – I don’t have a job and I can’t get a job. I am trusting that God will provide a way and possibly that Emma will progress quicker than expected. I am daily praying for her and I have full confidence that God can bless this process and if He so desires she will heal sooner. Either way, we are in it for the long haul.
I will post regularly about this experience, what we are learning, how Emma is progressing and what works and doesn’t work as we rehab our anxious and fearful girl.
Remy is his typical relaxed self.
We have decided this is Emma’s theme song.