I often mention how inspiring it is to meet the kind of people who are so committed to their dogs that they choose to work through big problems rather than throwing in the towel (and throwing away the dog). These special people continually give me hope that a better human/dog future is on the horizon for all of us.
Steve and Lisa are the kind of people who love life, and enthusiastically embrace the challenges that come with it. I asked Steve to write a short story about his early experiences with his new best friend Bailey.
“An injured, pregnant stray dog walked onto the property of a married couple who loved dogs. This special couple was already involved with an animal adoption agency called Furry Kids Refuge. The stray dog delivered seven puppies. The foster parents took wonderful care of the mother dog and all seven puppies. The dog’s pictures were posted on the Furry Kid’s website. When my wife and I saw the picture of a beautiful red haired female, we knew we had to visit to see if we could be her new forever home.
We met “Ramona” and she was lovely. We cleared the “adoption process” and had our new dog home within one week. The first week we spent with our newly renamed Bailey was wonderful! However, on the eighth day at our house things quickly began to deteriorate. Bailey would growl and bark and charge at our 18 year old son (who previously had complained that she was too nice and wouldn’t scare off any intruders). She began to also charge at every visitor who came to our house. We endured this behavior for just two days. By that time we were ready to return Bailey to Furry Kids Refuge. We simply could not own a dog that wanted to bite everyone that entered our house. But Bailey was so good to my wife and me that we decided we just HAD to try to do something that would allow us to keep her. So we contacted Furry Kids Refuge and explained the situation. We were advised we could return Bailey but they suggested we contact a dog trainer that they recommended. We had never dealt with a dog trainer before but we were more than willing to try that if it meant we could keep our new dog.
We contacted the trainer (Joni Johnson-Godsy) via e-mail. Joni gave me a call the day she received my e-mail and agreed to meet with us that very night! Joni said this behavior needed to be addressed immediately! My wife and I were very nervous about our chances of a trainer being able to do anything with this suddenly vicious dog. Would our dog bite her? Could Bailey be trained? Could WE be trained? What could we do to protect our son and visitors? Would we be able to keep Bailey? If so, how long would it take to get her back to being a loving dog? So many questions needed answers.
Joni arrived at our home and stayed for over three hours. During that time she gave us instructions on how to deal with specific behavioral issues. Bailey immediately started responding to our new ways of correcting her. My wife and I learned how to think like “the alpha dog” (a term I had never heard of before). We were instructed on how to “take our house back” from Bailey. We learned the right way to walk a dog. We learned how to keep the dog from jumping on us. We were educated on how to stop Bailey from hitting the door when she wanted in. We discussed how to turn Bailey into a loving dog.
During Joni’s visit Lisa and I learned that our once passive dog had turned into an aggressive dog because of the way I pampered her and let her have the run of the house the first week we had her. As it turned out, nearly everything I did during the first week with Bailey was NOT the right thing to do with a new dog. Ground rules should have been established from Day One. I was ignorant on how to handle a new dog but Joni gave me an education on the right way to do things. Joni shared her considerable knowledge of dogs with us and she did this without making us feel less then intelligent (even though we were not prepared to own a new dog).
Near the end of the session, tears formed in my eyes as I came to the realization that we now had a fighting chance to keep our new pet. Joni let us know that with some additional work, Bailey could end up being a wonderful dog.
A few months have passed since that training session and I am very proud to report that Bailey has been transformed into an incredibly loving dog and companion. My son is no longer afraid of her and our visitors are no longer worried about dealing with “Cujo Jr”.
This could not have happened without the assistance of a good trainer/ behaviorist. We are thankful that Furry Kids Refuge referred us to Joni. We are better educated and therefore are better dog owners now.
I strongly recommend speaking with a behaviorist before you bring your new dog home. By being proactive and learning about dogs before you bring them home, you can save yourself a lot of time and trouble. We thought we could handle a new dog on our own but we learned at least in the case of Bailey that we were sadly mistaken. But Joni came through and everything worked out for all involved.”
Steve & Lisa
On a side note, Steve gives me an awful lot of credit here, but it was HE AND LISA who rose to the challenge, hung in there and did the daily training that brought Bailey around. During their session with me they listened, they got it, and then THEY MADE IT HAPPEN! I am so proud of them and am forever grateful to have met such special people!