I know, it’s a crazy thing to say. How could someone who spends every single day training and walking dogs ever wish she didn’t have a job? I should love my job!
Well, I’ll let you in on a little something. I do love my job! I love every moment of it. But I still wish I didn’t have a job.
Here, let me explain myself.
I wish I didn’t have a job because if I didn’t have a job, it would mean that no dog ever needed training. I wish I didn’t have a job because it would mean that no dog ever needed a daily walk. I wish I didn’t have a job because it would mean that every dog owner had enough time, enough knowledge, and enough understanding to provide the proper exercise, companionship, structure, and training for their dog. That every dog would live a life of health, happiness, and satisfaction.
But, I have a job.
It really came into focus for me this morning when I met with a four month old puppy and his family of two parents and three siblings (I’m talking about the two-legged kind) for a training consult. This dog had had everyone on his side since the day he was born. His mother was rescued as a stray while she was pregnant with him and his littermates. He was born at a foster house and raised by a loving, caring family. At 8 weeks he was adopted by yet another wonderful family, who were thrilled to be bringing a dog into their lives for the very first time. He has since spent the past two months living with them in a warm, comfortable home. His life was seemingly perfect.
I could get into the details about what I saw when I met this puppy; the biting, the barking, the jumping. But let’s just say that this puppy, despite all of the good intentions, was in serious need of training, restructure, and some stability in his life.
The thing is, the puppy had done nothing wrong. And his family had done nothing wrong either. So then, what went wrong?
It’s a time like this, when I meet a dog and its family in need of training, that I take a deep breath, and remind myself; we all have good intentions for our dogs, but it just doesn’t come naturally to us.
I’ll use myself as an example. I’m a dog person, but I’m no car person. Say the “check engine” light was on in my car, and it was up to me to figure out what was wrong. Sure, I’d read the manual, google a couple things, maybe even call my hubby for advice. And after lifting the hood, I could possibly figure out at least where the washer fluid goes, how to recharge the battery, maybe screw around with a couple of things, but that’s probably as far as I’d get. Hey, I never claimed to be a mechanic, right?
Well, it’s the exact same thing when we bring a puppy home for the very first time. We read the books, we watch the shows, and sure, we’ve met plenty of dogs on the street. So we could possibly figure out a thing or two on how to properly raise the dog. Probably not all of it though.
And here’s the catch. With a car, the check engine light turns back on, smoke comes out of the hood, or the darn thing just won’t turn on. Time to head to the mechanic’s.
A puppy, though, isn’t as black and white. They don’t have any “check engine” lights. So while an owner may take what they’ve learned and try all the right things, they still don’t always know when they’re doing something wrong. Or at least not until it really becomes a real problem. Or maybe it doesn’t even become a problem, and the dog just lives his life unsure about how to connect with his owner. He doesn’t know what to do, doesn’t know how to act, doesn’t know how to make them understand. This isn’t just a car we’re talking about, this is a living, breathing member of our family.
We aren’t born with the ability to read our dogs’ minds. All we can do is learn as we go, ask for advice, and hope for the best. It would be wonderful if we came into this world with the innate ability to communicate with 100% accuracy with our four-legged friends. How happy and satisfied they would all be!
When I see a pup like the one I met today, it makes me wish I didn’t have to do this. It makes me wish that all dogs and people could just naturally figure each other out.
I would do anything to provide that for every dog out there. Happiness, completeness, understanding. But unfortunately, I’m no doggie Oprah. I’m just a small time dog trainer and walker in North Andover. So on days like today, I have to remind myself to take it one step at a time. One dog at a time. I will improve this puppy’s life. Just like I’ve improve the lives of the dogs that I walk. My walkers and I only get a half hour each day with each dog, but we make that the very best half hour we possibly can. It’s the least we can do.
So as much as I absolutely love my job, I wish I didn’t have it. I wish there were no need for it. But then again, a girl’s got to make a living. And even more so, she’s got to be realistic. I do have a job. I do my very best at my job. And that improves the lives of the dogs that I meet. People may not be born with the innate ability to understand their dog, but I sure as heck can try to teach them!