Just a few days ago, I hit a sort of rock bottom. For the past two months, this weekend was the goal, the light at the end of the tunnel, the weekend Ringo would get his final puppy shots. We’d be cleared to walk him and take him to daycare. We could invite other dogs over to play or meet them for a walk at the park. We could sign up for a basic obedience class. This was the weekend things would shift. The hardest part would be over.
Then Ringo came down with a cold, maybe even a mild Kennel Cough even though he’d been vaccinated (thus the “mild case”), which is contagious and can turn to pneumonia if it gets bad enough. To be safe, our vet put him on antibiotics and told us to keep him home. We rescheduled his final round of shots for next weekend. It felt like such a blow. Even though it looks on the surface like it only bumped us ahead one week, I know myself well enough to guess that I might want to wait another week or two after that until trying daycare, just to be sure.
At the same time, I was struggling with some training issues with Ringo — biting, counter surfing and jumping, and chewing on his leash and harness. I’d gotten lots of advice, did research and lots of reading, and have raised three other puppies, but for some reason I wasn’t finding the exact approach that would work with Ringo. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I suffer from black and white thinking and can immediately go from “this isn’t working” to “this will never work.” I started imagining Ringo turning into the Cattle Dog cautionary tale you hear so much, a dog that nips and bites and barks and is bossy, a disaster.
I asked for help. I posted on Facebook, asking for suggestions, and even called Ringo’s “grandma” (she has his mom and dad). I got some really good advice, but more importantly I felt better, trusted myself about what to do for MY dog.
And then, weirdly, without me really doing much of anything, a shift happened. Maybe it was because yesterday was a gorgeous spring day. Maybe it’s because I got so much done yesterday but still felt relaxed and calm. Maybe it’s because Ringo is feeling so much better and even Sam is doing better (and if he caught Ringo’s yuck, it never went beyond a few sneezes). Maybe it’s the natural outcome of Ringo getting just a bit older. Whatever happened, it further reinforces the mantra that’s been on repeat with me lately: don’t give up.