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Monday, July 18, 2016

Canine Love After the Loss of an Amazing Dog

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.


  1. Wow, what a teaching moment. As we adopted a new dog and I am not finding the bond - I appreciate your post.

  2. What a wonderful feeling that must have been!!

  3. it's great that you have such a special bond... many thanks for a wonderful written post about love..

  4. What a beautifully written post, KB. You and Shyla are a wonderful team!

  5. Hari OM
    Every love is different... but Love wins, always... YAM xx

  6. That is the wonderful thing about love, that it can take so many different forms, never the same, but each time wonderful!

  7. Love this KB! I haven't heard of the training you are using, but it certainly seems to fit Shyla's personality.
    Each dog gives us special gifts and a unique relationship, some are like the one you had with K and then you have to learn all over again when you have a pup like Shyla. I love how close you to are and how she continues to trust in you and your love. Well done my friend. Enjoy the summer days!

  8. I've never heard of the Fenzi courses - we'll take a look!

    Monty, Harlow and Ramble

  9. You know how much we relate to this post in creating that new bond. I worried so - after the bond that Greta and I had - would I find that again. My husband assured me - it had more to do with me working to create that bond and it would happen. Mabel too is different from Greta, but the love is strong and the bond . there is nothing like positive training to build that trust and relationship
    Mr Bailey, Hazel & Mabel

  10. So wonderful that you and Shyla have formed a great relationship with true depth. Yes, they are all different but they can all be good.

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  11. What a lovely post, KB. I am glad that you have found this special bond with Shyla. She seems to be a wonderful dog.
    I don't think that any dog can replace another. They all are special in their own way. And so is the love for them.

  12. It's been just over a year that Brut has been gone and I am still at that point where there will never be another dog. But that is also due to the fact that I have 4 of his kids and his girlfriend Silver, so Brut has never really left me.

    I remember being very nervous for you when you got Shyla, knowing how strongly you felt about K. It has been a joy and wonder watching you two grow together with each other. A beautiful journey that has been full of life and love. I'm so glad those courses helped.

    There is nothing close to the bond of a special dog. Each one unique and honored. I'm so glad you found each other. :)

  13. Oh, I loves this postie! I am so glads you and Shyla are in sync...that is so amazin'! No doggie can take the place of K, butts no doggie should. Each doggie has their own special place in our hearts and soul. each is different, butts the love is just as deep. ♥
    Ruby ♥

  14. I am on dog 3 and 4 and I know my relationships with each dog have been unique. I thought Loki might have been the heart stealer and in many ways he was, but my Phod . . . but then my girls are so special too . . . I think dogs teach us we can have many loves in many ways!

  15. I wish I could welcome another dog but somehow I just cannot. Perhaps because we have Lucy and I'm not at all sure she would adjust. Perhaps because I simply miss Ellie so much. Every single day. So glad you have your Shyla.

  16. I am another reader who has not heard of Fenzi. Will be checking out youtube and looking for ideas for things to try with Piper. Piper WISHES she had a person like you, KB!

  17. I'm going to look into Fenzi courses. Toby's not a playful dog and anything that gives us a way to have fun together is interesting to me.


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