Welcome to Training Thursday! After some consideration and input from a few readers, I have decided to start discussing what I know best, dog training! I want to cover everything from how to find the right dog to trouble shooting issues you may be having with your current dog. Your input and questions are always welcome. There is always something more to learn!
I advocate positive training methods. I do not use or approve of choke chains or pinch collars. And, I recognize that all dogs are individual. There isn’t one method that is right for all dogs. However, we will discuss the method that I’ve found to work for the majority of dogs without instilling fear and increasing trust and building a deeper bond with your pet.
The picture above is of my beautiful Freya, my heart dog and first Alaskan rescue. In fact, she is how I met Gale and came to Compassion in Action.
When I decided to adopt a dog, I was living in an apartment. I’m not a small dog person as a rule, though I love all animals. It was decided by my boyfriend at that time and I that a small dog would fit better into our home than a large one. We already had his 3 rescued cats living with us and my 2 yr old son. I searched and searched and searched! Small dogs in Alaska aren’t easy to come by in rescue. And, I didn’t want to pay for a dog when so many good dogs need homes.
I first applied for a dog through Hearts United for Animals in Nebraska, but got turned down due to the sheer distance of Alaska from Nebraska. HUA doesn’t ship dogs to anyone if it’s going to consist of switching flights or if it’ll cause undue strain on the animal. Understandable. So I kept looking.
And on December 24th, 2003, I found her! There she was, listed on the Last Chance page of a local rescue group. It was 11pm at night. Much too late to call anyone. Freya was destined to be euthanized on Christmas Day unless she was adopted or rescued first. I fell in love with her picture. It didn’t matter that she was a big collie/malamute cross. I just felt an instant connection with her.
So, being still a Lowlander at heart and not understanding how Alaskans do things, I figured she’d get a reprieve since the next day was Christmas. (No such luck! That’s not how Alaska does things!) I worried and worried all of Christmas Day anyways. So on December 26th, I called the contact number listed. No answer. On December 27th, my birthday, I got a call from Compassion and found out she’d been rescued! And, yes! She was available for adoption! What a birthday present! That alone was enough for me. She was safe. I made arrangements to go out and meet her.
Freya was being boarded at a sled dog yard until a proper home could be found for her. When we pulled up, there were 50+ huskies going nuts and barking up a storm at the “intruders”. Not Freya, she sat there as quiet as could be. It was love at first sight! She was great with my Toddler, good with me, but a little shy with the boyfriend. Regardless, we made arrangements to bring her home.
When we got her home, Freya was crated at first. I had to teach her to go in her crate, but she soon loved it. What a great dog she was! No possessiveness of toys or food. She’d move out of the way if the cats showed the slightest interest in her food dish. Gentle and loving with the cats. She’d herd them away from the front door if it was open even a crack. Still nervous with the boyfriend, but she over came that after a few weeks. I even took her to obedience school to see how well socialized she was with other dogs. Needless to say, she was the star pupil of the class! She quickly learned what I wanted and was very attentive to me. What a good dog! She always sat sloppy though. It was the one thing that we couldn’t overcome.
I even wrote to HUA after Freya came home and thanked them for rejecting my application. If they had not done that, I’d never have found my beautiful Freya.
A couple months after her adoption, we learned that Freya had some arthritis in her hips. So, she’s my couch potato family dog. That’s ok with her though. She says Copper can be the agility and obedience star. She’s happy to stay home and herd her cats around and hold down the couch. She truely lives up to her name. A goddess in doggie form of love and cats!
I wanted to include a few links to some great adoption sites. I also want to remind people that just because an animal is in a shelter doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with the pet. Pets get given up for various reasons and most of the time, it’s not their fault. People let them down. So, when you do go looking for your next pet, please consider adopting.
Best Friends (the inspiration for Compassion in Action)
Compassion In Action (and links to other Alaskan Rescue groups)
Pet Finders (a great site to find pets available for adoption all over the country)
And lastly, here’s a link to another Alaskan rescue group. This link will take you to a page where they have links to the PSA clips they’ve done to promote responsible pet ownership and adoption. I’ll warn you that the clip for “Hero” may leave you needing a tissue or two.
“Hero” was the psa done after 9/11. I found it very moving.
In addition, I wanted to remind you that there are many things you can do to help a shelter pet until they find their forever home. Many shelters are in need of donations from food, funding to help with veterinary care, toys, old blankets and towels. Yes, you can take your old blankets and ratty towels into a shelter and they will be much appreciated. Don’t over look that many shelter animals would just be happy to have someone take them for a little walk or just give them love for a little bit. It doesn’t require much time to just stop by a shelter and give a lonely, scared pet a little love. That’s how I found my Shayla. I took my kids in to the local animal shelter to just give a little love to a lonely pet or thirty!
Time and lives are precious. Hug your pet today, support a local shelter any way you can. And when you consider adding to your family and getting a pet,
Please save a life and adopt a pet.