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Triggers, timelines & expectations....lessons from a shelter dog.

It has been 7 weeks today since we brought Sami home.....and he is a completely different dog.

When he first walked in this house, he was scared of everything.

Every-time the furnace came on he jumped up and ran around.

I thought he was not interested in food, thus not food motivated to train, as he did not eat for 24 hours (I was so wrong, he loves his food).

He would not nap at all, so we had a scared, tired and somewhat cranky dog by the end of the day.

He was also super sweet, very cuddly and eager to learn and please.

And he did!

In 7 weeks he has taken the express lane through training and has impressed me so much. This little dog is the smartest thing I have ever worked with, and I have worked with a lot of animals. On Saturday I was telling my husband that in 7 weeks this little shelter dog has made the progress of 7 months. We are just thrilled.

And then Sunday happened.......and the meltdown!

He has been walking on the leash in our neighborhood nearly every day. He went from not being able to take him out of the yard to 60 minutes walks where he is the perfect little gentleman. We also finally got him to relax in the backyard, lay around an enjoy the views and sounds and come every time we call him.

So we popped him in the car and took him to our cool little downtown area for a walk.

Where a train runs through the middle of the area, every 20 minutes.

Well, 60 minutes and 3 trains later, we had a frantic, triggered, scared little shelter dog to take home. And it only got worse from there.....

He went crazy in the backyard.

Chasing every sound and bird.

Not hearing us at all.

To barking at cars from within the house.

Running circles every-time we got up off the couch.

And on and on.

By the end of the night, all 3 of us had wrecked nervous systems.

I was drinking tequila.

Joe was simply worried about me.

Sami looked like the dog we brought home on day one.

We were all ready for the day to much so he went in his crate without instruction and was like, "put me to bed." (win here!)

What did I learn?

What I already is not linear.

We do not make progress and never look back.

Expectations suck and make everything worse.

We often ask too much of ourselves, other people, and little shelter dogs.

We must take it slow.

Triggers are real, fear learning is real, and sometimes you just have to ride it out.

Nervous system regulation is everything.

And the big one, again, life is messy!

This little dog has taught me so much.

I see so much of myself. and others, within him. The eagerness to do more, try new things, and then my inability to say NO which leads us to meltdowns.

Life isn't about walking a straight line of progress, not a straight line of perfection.

Life is about leaning into what comes our way, having amazingly great days AND having complete meltdowns and then getting back up the next day and moving on....which is what we are doing this morning.

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