In 2013, we met for the first time. He was a dog who had been found in the neighborhood and was being passed from house to house because no one could keep him, yet no one wanted to turn him into the shelter. He was described as sweet, playful, and full of energy. Since I worked with a local rescue at the time, I decided to take him in and get him placed with a loving family.
I arrived at the neighbor’s house around the corner where he was being kept. The son came out and told me how badly he wanted to keep him, but his Mom wouldn’t let him. I took the dog and soon realized that this was going to be tough. It was like removing daggers from the ground in order to get him in my car!
He came home with me that day and spent the night. The next day, I handed him over to the director of the rescue to have him vetted. After a few days she needed someone to keep him because she had an emergency out of town. I quickly volunteered. My husband went with me to pick him up. It was cold, dark and rainy. We made it about halfway to the car and he dug his daggers into the ground once again refusing to move – much less get in the car. We finally lifted him and carefully loaded him up to go home.
Just the year before, we had lost my Dad, then only a few months after, we adopted a stray Beagle only to find out that our oldest dog had lymphoma and didn’t have long to live. He passed in late 2012. We still had our Beagle and two other Senior dogs. I was just not ready for another dog.
Everyone kept saying that we needed to keep him and my husband, of all people, fell in love with him. How could I refuse my husband? He never asks for anything!
Emmett was a crazy puppy. He was about 8 months old and after a DNA test, we found that he was a mix of Greyhound, Labrador, and Newfoundland. He chewed anything and everything including sheets, curtains and furniture. He played with our Beagle until she couldn’t take any more. He chased anything that moved. He jumped on me constantly causing many scratches and bruises. I looked and felt like a wreck.
One day, I sent my husband a message and told him that something was going to have to change. He was either going to have to improve or we were going to have to re-home him. I was caring for my Mom and even though she had help, I was taking care of all of the financial, shopping, doctor appointments, questions and anything else you can think of. I just didn’t feel like I could handle another thing. I think I was a little resentful that I had yet another stressor in my life. That day I realized that I was a trainer and wasn’t acting like one. I was frustrated because I didn’t have that “feeling” you get when you adore your puppy no matter what. I had never really felt that way before. I always spent time with my pups and had a great relationship with them. He was different.
The next day I remember trying to work at my desk. He was his usual crazy pup self and I could not take it any more. I decided to begin managing his behavior in hopes of reducing my frustration so that I could be a better “mom” to him. I whipped out our xpen and put it between me and him. Before I knew it he was laying down sleeping. I couldn’t believe my eyes. I began taking him outside for one on one play and exercise and he began calming down. We worked on some basic skills like sit and down. He absolutely loved training time.
We loved our pups to sleep with us and still do. At this time, we had two senior dogs, our beagle, and our new dog. Our seniors would sleep on the floor and the other two on the bed. One evening after getting in bed, he came over to me, leaned on me and gave me a big kiss. Then he proceeded to cuddle the best cuddles you could even ask for. That was it. He was staying.
The next day, I decided that he was going to have structured training and be the best dog ever. He went through Canine Good Citizen training and earned his CGC Certification. Now he is calmer, loyal, obedient, and full of love. He now knows over 25 skills including many tricks. He’s also my training assistance. He is my Emmett.
I wanted to tell Emmett’s story because I see so many dog owners frustrated and at their wits end with their dog. I want you to know that there is hope. Your dog wants to be good and is good. Every dog is different and learns differently. They just need direction. When we were in school, we didn’t learn new skills in a day or even a week. It took lots of lectures, lots of studying and hard work. The same applies to your dog. It takes time and lots of effort, but it’s the most rewarding thing to see your dog change from unmanageable to a scholar.