Are You Thinking What I’m Thinking?

Posted: April 1, 2013 in Pit Bulls
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

One of my past posts “I Do” I talked about making a commitment to your dog. This is the story of my commitment to Stella who has challenged my sanity in just about every which way I can think of. I got Stella from a pretty rough situation. Now that I think about it my first and second dogs were both rescues. Bently and Stella both came from some pretty awful living conditions.

When I first met Stella or Nina as she was called at the time it was in the West end of Ottawa. I was supposed to see her at the beach but instead was taken back to someones house. I felt a bit uneasy and the scenario only got worse from there. The guy I was dealing with told me that he had to get rid of this dog and he was leaving the country the following day. I pressed him about what would happen if I didn’t take her. He replied with “Not sure. Might just have to leave her in this apartment”.

He went inside one of the town houses and returned with Stella and two people shouting at one other. I heard the female voice asking him where he was taking the dog. While the male voice angrily yelled that he “didn’t care and he didn’t want the thing there in the first place”. He brought Stella out on a short dirty pink leash and handed her to me and I walked her around a bit. She was very timid and it was pretty easy to tell that the people where she was were mistreating her. If you raised a hand too quickly she would cower it was clear they were at the least hitting her to punish her. She was pretty sweet showed me no aggression and Lilly seemed to be somewhat ok with her. My fiance walked her and Lilly a bit and then asked me what I thought. I asked the guy if we could have a minute. We both were still reeling from the loss of my first dog Bently who died in  a freak accident. We wanted to take a second and not jump into anything we weren’t ready for. We both thought that  she was being hit judging by the way she was acting but she was sweet and seemed to almost at once accept Lilly’s limits socially. We were stuck between the classic “rock and a hard place.”

I asked the guy how much he wanted for her. I forget what I paid but I think it was 200 bucks but I mean at this point what could I do.  My fiance and I being the animal people we are couldn’t stand the idea of her going back in their to face those abusive people again. We drove the kid to an ATM. I paid him, he told me a bit more, he claimed she was a pit bull, I could teach her to bite on command if I wanted (in my head I was thinking thank god I saved this dog). I mean who knows what would have happened to her if she was left there any longer. Personally my fiance and I think Stella is a Great Dane, Boxer, and some sort of hunting dog mix. She is way too large to be a pit bull. Who really knows. We dropped this guy back off at the beach and drove Stella away.

I didn’t really get to see much out of Stella before agreeing to take her. The first few days went ok then it was as if all the sudden she let her personality come out. Crate training was out of hand. No matter what we did she would scream for hours and hours. I tried everything in the book. I have crate trained many of my dogs and have never encountered anything like this. Force free, Cesar Millan, heck even  bribes to be quiet didn’t work. Finally after what seemed like an eternity she learned that her crate was just a place to relax chill out, a home away from home if you will.

That was only the start of a long list of ticks that pushed my fiance and I to the limit. I talk about getting  a dog that matches your energy. Tarah and I are on the “kinda active” side. Were not couch potatoes but we don’t run 10 k a day either. Stella we quickly came to learn had more energy than any dog we had ever had. Ok no problem we will just walk and Rollerblade more no big deal. Here’s the catch Stella was terrified to leave the drive way. She absolutely refused some days laying on the ground like a dead body. Leaving home could be a half an hour ordeal in it self. Often while rollerblading she would stop with no warning sending me flying backwards. I mentioned she had a lot of energy but it was impossible to get her to drain it. Everyone she would meet she would jump up on and tackle. Treats and positive reinforcement did little to sway her need to hug everyone she encountered.

Her bad manners didn’t stop at people. At the dog park she would guard any large ball many times leading to a tug of war show down with someone else. Other people playing fetch, nope she would steal whatever they were throwing ball stick it didn’t matter. Recalll seemed like something that was optional at the time, if she felt like it. My fiance and I often wondered what it was we were doing wrong. I am not blaming Stella. Looking back on it we had just been missing out on a connection some where. We were following the same blue print I had with Bently. Who at this point had been the exact opposite of Stella in every way. If we had people over and put Stella on her lead she would run around often close lining people and even once her self. It was as if no matter what we did to exercise her both physically and mentally nothing seemed to matter. We were at a complete loss as to how one dog could be so vastly different when we were training them the same way.

Recently my fiance and I admitted to each other that at one point we both thought that we had bitten off way more than we could chew with Stella. We weren’t sure if our efforts were ever going to pay off. We thought we were pretty good dog people but who knows maybe Bently was a fluke.  Finally Stella slowly started to make progress. First with the drive way. She started to leave and actually enjoy rollerblading. At this time I had been  taking Stella to a secluded dirt path and doing off leash work with her. I let go of my anxiety and trusted her, something I hadn’t been able to do before. This is when things really changed for me. I believe that dogs work off energy. They can feel energy and react to it. Don’t believe me, think about the last time you tried to get your dog to listen to you while you were angry. It never works as well as when your calm and collected. I truly believe that she could feel that up until then that I didn’t fully trust her and it was keeping us from properly bonding. Today Stella is a well-behaved ambassador for whatever breed she is. Most people comment on how well-behaved she is and are blown away to find out she just turned one. She is definately one of the hardest dogs I’ve ever personally owned. Stella is a prime example of a tough puppy that with hard work and discipline has transformed into an amazing dog.

Opieandbell

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StellaLilly

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