We’ve all seen the bumper stickers. We’ve seen the magnets and touching T-Shirts. “Who rescued who?” Some of our clients have these rescue dog stickers on the back of their cars. I totally see the merit and get the idea behind it…but…the problem (and it is often an ENORMOUS problem which is why I’m mentioning it) occurs when the “rescuer” (the person who got their dog from the pound) either Keeps Their Dog As A VICTIM, not allowing the dog to move on and not allowing the dog to live in the moment, by continually informing anyone and everyone that’ll listen of the old sob story about the dog’s dread past.
I’ve often found that the stories that people make up and imagine are typically much greater in the categories of abuse and maltreatment than what the dog most probably went through! (Example: most dogs that are afraid of men were NOT abused by a man)
Seneca (a pretty wise individual that took time to ponder things out) said, “We are more often frightened than hurt, we suffer more in imagination than in reality.” And he was talking about people. Never before have so many people had their dogs “suffer” in their imaginations! It is quite unhealthy and a miserable way to begin a relationship.
The other failure that can and often does occur (behaviorally speaking) within the relationship between rescue dog owner and pound puppy is when they fail to give the dog beneficial boundaries and firm follow through when the dog breaks normal societal and individual house rules. Basically, the rescue dog, gaining oodles of misplaced and unwarranted attention from day 1 within the home, often seizes command of touch, space, movement, and energy (the 4 Pillars – my third book on dog behavior!) and begins to do whatever the heck it wants to even and especially within the owner’s personal space. Before they know it…little poor behavior patterns are established and the dog is on its way to establishing seriously bad behavioral patterns.
When a dog is termed a “real lover” by a potential client that is calling us to see if they can find a time slot on our training schedule we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that their dog is over touching and out touching them. It doesn’t matter if the dog that is always touching the owner is friendly or not. Life among all canines and their ranking system is clearly determined by who is touching who and how and when that touch is applied! “Real lover” type rescue dogs often sneak in way too much touch on their owners and this is the starting point of many horrible future behaviors.
Well, there you have it. I’m sure many of you that just happen to read this but that have never been clients may not understand it but these, Friends, are the facts as seen in nature and among all dogs. Dogs that are allowed to enter your personal space whenever they want to, dogs that demand petting, dogs that lick you, dogs that slip your touch when you go to pet them, dogs that mouth you, dogs that always flop over and direct you to touch their belly are all controlling touch in one way, shape, or form and that is precisely how mother and father dog raise their young – they control touch, space, movement, and energy and, as their young age, they grow up properly with authentic respect, trust, and clear communication which, in turn, leads to maturity and calmness and self control (which means more freedom for the individual).
Don’t get it mixed up. You got a dog from a pound. Now please lead the thing the way it deserves to be led! Let go of the imagined past suffering your rescue dog probably didn’t ever go through. Understand that dogs can change for the better or for the worse rapidly!
Your relationship should NOT just be an emotionally-pathetic or odd thing wherein you offload tons of your own past wounds onto the unsuspecting dog! (This happens way too much these days) These creatures are born for living a life of physical vigor and adventure IN THE MOMENT each day with their owners. Make it happen for your dog. I can certainly get behind “Who rescued who” if it implied that both human and dog were working together to improve one another’s lives and to go boldly forward into a better future together but…if it’s an overemotional, overly needy, somewhat lost statement morphing into a translation like, “I don’t know what’s going on but I really need my dog” then I’m not going to be big fan of the slogan. I am all for needing your dog but as mentioned your pet is NOT the place to dump your past emotional baggage. We can all do better than that. How we think and the words we use matter!
If you have a nervous dog it will most assuredly manipulate you and your touch and space even more than a more balanced and relaxed dog would – so be careful and be sure to read more of our stuff! Subscribe to this fine blog because we’ll be honest with you. Also subscribe to Stevens Family Kennels on YOUTUBE seeing the dogs and people touch and move will help.
Honesty is the best policy because it is a great starting place towards a healthy relationship!