Monday, March 21, 2011


If you can stand another dog post read on. If not, catch me later on one of my more controversial or destination topics.

Read on:

We have now had our adopted shelter dog Bilbo a.k.a Bo for 3 months. In the past 3 months I have learned more about patience, persistence, leadership, restraint, and dog pack behavior than I could ever imagine would ever be on my plate.

I don't say this in a positive way....or at least it didn't seem very positive in the beginning. In the beginning the dog wore me down, cramped my style, made me paranoidly alert, and made me cry in frustration on many occasions. Having him brings me back to the first few months of my daughter's infancy. Not a pretty sight.

When we first got him I mostly spent my time feeling sorry for him because I didn't love him the way I knew I should. After all, I allowed him to be a part of our lives and committed to his care. I should love him...but I didn't.

But something about his eyes told me that he had been sent by the Universe to help me learn a few things about myself...shake me up from my comfort zone a bit. I didn't want to play the game that I was slowly but surely being forced to play. The game of change can be very scary even if you are expecting it and even more scary when it's arrives out of the blue.

No, I can't say that if I had known how difficult Bo would be he would be a part of our family. Now that we are over the hump I can say YES, he is turning out to be the kind of companion that any dog loving family would love to have.

Bo is a mixed American Bulldog. He's a bully breed which makes him a bit on the physically strong and dominant side. If you could have seen him the first few weeks in our household you would know why we had to hire an animal behaviorist to HELP!!!

Yes, many times I wanted him to disappear. I thought many times about taking him back from whence he came. But what would that have taught my very impressionable daughter? So many times I have taken the easy way out. I don't want to be that person anymore. I want to learn to love unconditionally, judgement and expectation free. In the past, that would have been, not so much.

So anyway, a co-worker of Toby's recommended a local dog behaviorist/trainer Training by Tara. She has been the dog GOD to us. In our first initial consult we learned things we never knew about dogs....things most dog owners don't know about dog behavior.

For example, in all the years of owning a dog I thought when my dog followed me around, leaned against me, or pawed at me it was because he loved me. NOT!!

When he jumped up on me when I walked in the door he was happy to see me. NOT!

When he snuggled in the bed or on the sofa with me he was showing love. NOT!

When he sat beside me while I ate he is just wanting to share a meal with me. NOT!

We humans, namely Americans tend to treat and respond to dogs in a human way. Bad mistake for folks who own 65lb adolescent male dominant dogs. Sure, you can get away with babying a smaller or less dominant breed which is probably what I would be happily doing if I had chosen a different breed.

I didn't just take our behaviorist Tara's word for this. I took it upon myself to study dog pack behavior on my own. I guess you learn something new every day. Dogs do have their own language and social status behavior. No, they aren't even close to being human or having human thoughts. I guess that's why Tara is one of the best behaviorist/trainers in Austin. After just a couple of session with her I respect her opinion and adhere to all her "rules".

Thanks to Tara we have gone from an out of control rambuncious, mouthing, jumping, unpredictable, leash pulling dog to a calm, submissive, respectful big bulldog.

It has been an amazing journey. In teaching my dog control and patience I have learned control and patience. He is forcing me to be a strong, stable leader. I find that his presence in our household has forced me to take a step back and internally observe my emotions before I act on them. I can now say that yes, I LOVE MY BULLDOG.


  1. I like your writing. It's so understandably clean and easy to read. Back to the meat of your post.... dogs. I agree. We have to understand why the pack would be behaving in a certain way. My Cody knows I'm alpha dog and she's so easy to train. Your Bo looks sweet. A dear dog. Thanks for the great post.

  2. Glad big dog ownership is smoothing out for you. I'm having a hard enough time understanding my own pack...all of whom are the same species as me, I might add! I don't think I could tackle another one!

    So what DOES it mean, then, when the dog jumps up on you when you come home???? My kids react much the same when my husband comes home from work!!

  3. Jennifer....LOL!! Somehow it's easier for me to lead and understand the dog because I don't have human emotions attached to him. The love I have for family members blind my perspective. That's why GOD made animals I guess...

  4. What a wonderful story to share! We have experienced doggy mayhem as well and it's amazing how different everything is when you understand doggy behaviors. Suddenly you are not surprised the poor pooch is as confused as you are. :-)