This is a bit of a personal blog today, so send your angry letters to you congressmen instead, please.
I’ve been in the dog field for a very long time. 32 years in fact. My mom is a dog trainer. I grew up sleeping in dog crates and exercise pens while running the circuit. I had Legos, I turned out just fine.
Tonight I was bitten by a dog at a meet and greet and it was probably the best bite to happen. I’ve been bitten twice in all my years. Once by chance and it was an over-aroused Belgian Tervuren who mistook my snowsuit for a super fun tug toy. I was young and running around and he thought it would be super fun to latch onto my marshmallow puff. It definitely scared the holy heck out of me and it brings me to my first point.
Dogs will be dogs.
I am 100% sure that snowman I was building and those snow angels I was making were completely above the threshold of this particular dog and my snowsuit was wayyy too tempting. Ever since I learned to do better, I choose to keep my dogs happily exercised, enriched and away from kids if I’m not there and present 100% of the time. Just like I don’t want my husband having a motorcycle. I can only control what I can control, and that’s my dogs. But they are dogs, living breathing, independent, free-thinking beings and I must respect that, and I do.
The second time I was bit was by a German Shepherd who was an incredible IPO Dog. We were sharing a hotel room and her dog took off across the room and bit me in the wrist. I am sure it was something I did, but it happened. And the dog eventually let me go. And it scared the holy mother fricking spirit out of me but I didn’t die. And I didn’t need stitches. And the reality of the situation is dogs will be dogs. No matter the pedigree, no matter the training history, no matter how much you do you for your boo, your dog will do them. This bite definitely scared me for many, many years. I’m over it now, but just think how this might affect a kiddo.
And this evening one of my team members and I met a potential new client. The dog nipped me, which caught me a bit off guard. I went back to all of my years growing up and training dogs and working for one of the best (if not the best) veterinary behaviorist, Dr. Sophia Yin.
We came inside a bit further and the dog bit me harder and drew blood. A newly rescued dog, she was uncomfortable with us in her new space (understandably so) and she let me know. Heck, she said this doggo is not on board.
I’m fine, obviously, and the first thought in my head was… I’m so glad it was me! It wasn’t a child. This is why I’m so glad this dog bit me today. Because I could tap into my amazing network of trainers and behaviorists.
I’m so glad this wonderful family found my company and they stumbled into a hive mind of dog professionals.
I did a cookie scatter and luckily she was still happily eating food. Her new parents were kind and brought some first aid supplies. I asked for them to crate our cute fang face, and we carried on.
But the best thing is, once we removed the dog from the situation because she was obviously not okay with it, is that we had a great discussion. And that’s not something you would get with an inexperienced dog person or neighbor who is popping in on your dog.
So often people who moonlight in dog walking are not educated, professionals. And we love dogs, we ALL love dogs. But loving dogs is not enough to work in this field. I keep shouting this from the rooftops, THIS IS NOT ENOUGH.
This goes without saying that we are completely insured and if this were more serious we would all be covered.
But I want to stress the importance of working with people who are highly educated in dogs and behavior. Had I not known more about dogs I may have bent down to offer her treats and possibly been more injured. A million scenarios could have happened. I threw food, and she ate food.
Instead, we removed the dog and we had a serious chat about finding a qualified trainer and a safety protocol for this particular dog with new people in the home. I love my circle of trainers, Vets, and friends that are accessible!
I think too often we don’t look at dogs as individual thinking beings with a hierarchy of needs. I could have taken on this client and ignored the fact that the dog needed some extra help with new people. I could have completely disregarded her feelings and her parent’s new feelings. I could have set all of us for failure.
Instead, we had an honest and frank discussion on veterinary behaviorists, healthy muzzle training, and counter conditioning this dog to feet.
We don’t know her history and she can’t tell us with words how she was feeling about this situation.
And that’s why I say it’s lucky she bit me today. When I got home I sent a follow-up email with some a recommended veterinary behaviorist, some great videos to watch, a basket muzzle company I love and also my full support. I also tapped into my wonderful network of trainers and vets and got even more resources flowing.
These wonderful people haven’t paid me a dime, but I don’t mind. I truly want every dog who walks this earth to be able to have a good life.
And it’s a great thing I got bit tonight because it means we helped one more dog.
And here’s the thing. Sure, I got nailed tonight. I blame no one.
I don’t blame the dog.
Hey, here’s this weird lady and her friend in my house who I’ve never met.
I don’t blame the owners. Hey, we want someone to be a friend for our dog!
I honestly blame rescue for taking the perfect home and adding a dog with baggage. Heck, I love rescue, I have THE PERFECT rescue dog but I think it’s unfair to rehome dogs with behavior issues and think it will always work out okay. Sometimes it will! And sometimes it won’t. And that’s why I’m here standing on my soapbox.
We’ll keep you posted. I wish all dogs will all find perfect homes. But if they can’t, is it unfair to say they might not be okay for a home?
Pets Crave Love™
Professional Dog Walking Services in South Austin. Our service area includes 78747 as well as Ashbrook, Bluff Springs/Frontage Road, Bradshaw Crossing, Carrington Oaks, Chateau at Onion Creek, Colonial Grand at Double Creek, Congress, Courtyards at Onion Creek, Courtyards at Southpark Meadows, Crossing At Onion Creek, Enclave at Estancia, Farmhouse Apartments, Goodnight, Goodnight Ranch, Iron Rock Ranch, Legends Way at Onion Creek, Lennar, Meadows At Double Creek, Old California Apartments, Old San Antonio, Onion Creek, Onion Creek Plantation, Parkside At Slaughter Creek, Quicksilver, River Ridge, RSI Homes, South Grove, Southpark Terraces, Springfield Phase C, Springfield Village, Stablewood At Slaughter Creek, Stonecreek Ranch, Stonegate, Thaxton Place, The Bend At Nuckols Crossing, The Cottages, The Oak at Twin Creeks, Trails at The Park, Weber Hill, Yarrabee Bend and more.
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