Yesterday, I joked about writing a blog on how to do anything better. On second thought, I’ve decided that it’s not such a bad idea after all. How else can I improve anything if I don’t even try? Just because I have an unfocused mind doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Already I’m working on my addiction to tea – Orange Pekoe, to be exact. There must be some secret ingredient that makes me crave it. Could it be just caffeine?
I’m sipping chamomile as I am tapping. I hope I can stay awake. Sheba is keeping me company. She is usually very rowdy and restless in the afternoons. It is that time between her supper and her walk. I’ve been working patiently with her for the last few weeks. When she barks up, I coax her in laying down, staying and then giving her lots of verbal praise. It took awhile but she’s finally getting it. Quiet = food and a walk. I could see the comprehension in her eyes and behavior. Really, a couple of weeks is not a long time. It is so pleasurable to see her ‘getting’ it.
The truth is I am the one finally ‘getting’ it. Raising Sheba has been strenuous, frustrating, fun, and satisfying all at the same time. It was very tumultous in the beginning. I was more a cat person, having had 3 cats previously. A dog was a new thing. What I knew about dogs was in movies and on television. It was myths and fairy tales, no true hard facts about raising a dog. The only preparation I made was to buy a very big crate and a book from the library.
The book was a very good resource at toilet training my new puppy. I followed the suggested schedule to a t. I can’t remember the number of times I took Sheba out to ‘potty’. It was enough times to wear me out but Sheba is perfectly toilet trained. One time she got into some ripe prunes and she had to go. She was in her crate in the garage when I was at work. She tried to poop out the crate door. She had some messy back end. When I let her out, she got away from me. Out the yard she ran. I had to chase her through the neighbourhood. Oh, what a time that was! Lucky for us, nobody saw us and the messy back end. A big sigh of relief when I finally caught her.
I listened and read too many accounts of how to raise a dog. I was terrified of doing the wrong things. Everyone and every source stated how difficult it is to correct a dog once it learned the wrong thing. I was a nervous wreck, feeling like a failed dog owner. Puppy classes were of no help. We weren’t keen on the trainer. She made both Sheba and I feel bad about ourselves. One time Sheba charged full throttle into Pet Smart (where we took the class), choked on her collar and pooped on the floor. On the way home after, she threw up in the car. What a mess! Ugh! We decided we did not need any more puppy classes. We’ve been limping along on our own ever since.
My advice on how to if you are a very first time dog owner, is to relax. Enjoy your dog. Get to know each other first. Go from there. The best thing is about consistency. But when you are a novice, you don’t even know what that means. The next best advice is don’t worry too much about making mistakes. Even old dogs can be corrected. They are just like us. They can change given the right motivations. It’s practice, practice and more practice – the same way each time – over and over = success. It only took us 11 years. But better late than never.