It's been a little more than four years since Angel K left this world. Her loss was devastating on many levels. She was my heart, soul, and muse - and she was young. I was heartbroken by the thought that I'd never love another dog like I loved her. Indeed, that much was certainly true. We had a bond that was unique to the two of us - never to be replicated. I still miss everything about her and pine for her to be with me. She'd only be 12 years old now.
But, much to my surprise, my bond with Shyla has grown to a depth that I didn't think that I'd experience ever again. Shyla is a completely different dog from Angel K. Due to her fears, Shyla needs me much more than K ever did, and one of my biggest goals with her has been to help her learn to navigate the world without leaning on me so much.
After I spent my first year with Shyla simply learning how to help her cope with her fears, I felt like our bond stagnated. I had trouble figuring out how to go to the next level with her - that level where I felt like we were a team, navigating the world as a team. I tried a number of different approaches to training her, none of which truly worked in boosting our mutual trust.
Most recently, I've taken a few Fenzi courses. They've been courses on how to modify your training for the personality of your dog, how to teach your dog nosework, and how to teach your dog both enthusiasm and precision in some common exercises like heeling.
|Shyla has learned to love tugging through our courses - Yipee!|
None of the courses were specifically pointed at the issues that I felt plagued my relationship with Shyla - things like how she'd run off and gnaw on an elk bone during a bike ride, ignoring my calls, and making me feel like our bond was not strong enough. Yet, much to my utter surprise, those issues have gone away, disappeared, evaporated - since we took a few Fenzi courses!!!
I think that the reason is that the courses have encouraged me to spend substantial time training Shyla to do highly complex things using purely positive training methods. As I mull it over, I realize that the courses were teaching me how to communicate with Shyla more clearly in all parts of our life. And, with clearer communication, our mutual trust grew.
It's made a world of difference. We have almost no "bad moments" during our morning bike rides when I become frustrated because Shyla is lying in the woods chewing a bone, deaf to me calling her. The bones are still strewn on the forest floor but Shyla is choosing to be with me rather than go chew them.
As we rode peacefully through the forest together this morning, I suddenly realized that we'd reached that level of two-way trust that I'd wanted for so long. I also realized that it made me love Shyla even more!
To sum it up, I'll never have the same relationship with any dog as I had with K - it was wonderfully unique to the two of us. But, by pouring my heart and soul into it, I've built an amazing bond with Shyla that makes me incredibly happy. It's worth the work, and it's worth risking my heart again.