Monday, December 6, 2010

Ode to the Red Dog

I meant for this to be a Thanksgiving Day post and even typed most of it up a few weeks ago, but I just haven't had a chance to get it posted.  Regardless, I think the entire holiday season is a good time to be thankful!  I've been thinking a lot about how much my little red dog has grown and I just recently remembered something I was told only a few months after I adopted Iris.

One of the first things I did with Iris was a beginner pet obedience class.  All of the dogs in class were adults and many were rescues.  During that very first basic obedience class, the instructor told the class that for most dogs it takes three weeks to get used to a new environment, three months to get used to new people, and three years to really bond.

Iris is seven now and the past summer was our "three year mark."  I remember thinking that strangely enough the three weeks and three months adjustment periods actually seemed pretty accurate for Iris.  But three years seemed like an eternity.  Well, it turns out that three years isn't an eternity.  It's actually pretty fast.

Fast forward three years, and here we are today.  The reason I've been thinking a lot about my crazy little red dog is because it just feels like in the last six months we've finally found the same rhythm.  Even though I didn't believe it at the time, the trainer who said "three years to really bond" just may have been right.  At least for me and Iris.  Sure, I've loved this dog for last three years and she's been my constant shadow, but it wasn't until recently that I think we've found the same tempo.  Ok, maybe I shouldn't say that I've loved her for quite three years.  You want to know my deep dark secret?  I really thought about returning her to the shelter.  She was crazy.  I mean, I wanted a fun dog.  Not some insane, aggressive nut job.  I felt like I was in way over my head with this crazy dog who exploded every time someone new came through the door, and exploded every time an unfamiliar dog was near her, and exploded every time she got stressed out about any little thing.  I just wanted a perfect agility dog and I somehow ended up with this crazy thing that ran back and forth and back and forth through the house all day barking at everything that moved outside.  The problem I kept running into is that as Iris' behavior problems were becoming more apparent, she was also opening up into a sweet cuddley wiggle butt.  When she wasn't being crazy.  Which was most of the time.  But I'm crazy too and I didn't want just "a dog."  I wanted Iris.  Just, it needed to be Iris with a whole lot less crazy if we were going to make it work.

And then it seems like all of a sudden (three years later...) she's really settled down and blossomed into a wonderful little dog.  I couldn't ask for a better companion.  I don't know if it's her getting older or us settling into a better routine, but in just the last few months I feel like I actually have the dog I was wishing for.  So many of her issues have melted away.  She's leaps and bounds better with strange people than she used to be, including strangers coming into the condo.  She comes to work with me regularly and sleeps quietly under my desk.  She no longer barks at everything outside the windows (I think mostly because she isn't allowed to look out the windows anymore, but she knows that rule and only rarely attempts to check the windows).  She's good on a leash and even gets to go hiking off leash.  Honestly, the only "issue" I would say she still has is being reactive with other dogs.  And while she's still a bossy bitch, she's far better than she used to be.

I look down at my little red merle shadow and I can't imagine that at one point I was seriously considering returning her to the shelter.  So my crazy-head red dog, here's to three years and hope for many more!


Jules said...

oh Blue, that's wonderful. Don't kid yourself - you've done an awesome amount of work with Iris. You've been a diligent and faithful owner. I am so glad you are reaping then benefits! You both deserve it!

Katrin said...

That is so awesome! I am so glad that you didn't return Iris to the shelter either! You have done a tremendous job with her Blue! :-)

Lauren said...

It's funny you should say that because I think that at 2 1/2 I feel the same way about Simon. I'm finally starting to really enjoy him and appreciate him rather than just be annoyed.

Diana said...

Thats so wonderful. Congrats on your 3 years! Diana

Nicki said...

Those crazy red dogs can frustrate us to no end. But deep down, I know my world revolves around her!