I've mentioned that I often quote Charlie Brown in saying, "Why can't I have a normal dog like everyone else?" I've spent a lot of time talking about the challenges of life with Barley: her hatred of the dog next-door, her reactions to new classmates, and having to realize that there are things she can't do. It can be frustrating.
But mostly it's not. Mostly, it's rewarding. Barley has come so far in the 4.5 years we've been working with trainers. When I first got her, we couldn't walk by a house with a dog in the yard--whether or not the dog was barking or paying attention to us--without Barley getting a mohawk, snarling, and jumping up and down. Now, we can walk by yards with multiple dogs barking and bouncing around and Barley stays calm and focused on me. When we started agility, Barley would get so distracted that she'd regularly leave my side to explore the room. Now, even with extra distractions, it just takes a quick 8-jump warm-up drill and she's ready to work (with the occasional reward in the difficult areas).
|Our proudest accomplishment: passing the CGC test in 2012.|
If Barley wasn't a reactive dog, we never would have signed up for agility or noseworks. We never would have taken our tricks and games class. We never would have met our wonderful, supportive group of trainers and classmates.
Barley and all of her challenges have made me a better a person. She's taught me patience. She's taught me the value of hard work and helped me see the rewards that come from really giving my all to something. She's made me more forgiving and more humble. She's helped me to be present and really become aware of my surroundings. She's made me a more responsible pet owner.
It would be a lie to say that life with Barley is never frustrating. There are times I've been angry and been heartbroken. There are times I've wished that she could be like other dogs.
But then I spend time with other dogs, and I realize that I've got my perfect dog. We're a team and her successes are my successes. My failures are her failures. My childhood dog was my very best friend and in life before Barley I couldn't have ever imagined having a stronger relationship with an animal, but Barley and I are off the charts. She might not be easy, but every single second and every single heartbreak and frustration have been worth it. And I wouldn't change a thing about my crazy girl.
Be sure to check out all of the other posts in this week's Barks and Bytes hosted by Heart Like a Dog and 2 Brown Dawgs.