This is true in any relationship, don’t you think? In the beginning, everything seems so ideal. My relationship with MoMo has been no different than when I hire a new employee. Everyone in the salon exclaims, “Oh, she is the ideal person who will fit into our team!” I always answer, “We won’t know a person’s true colors until she begins working with all of us on this team. To have high expectations will lead us into disappointment. Just remember, no one is perfect. Everyone has issues.”
Well, it’s been four months since MoMo arrived from Korea. I’ve been putting in hours every day to get her acclimated to her new life and to help her overcome fear, anxiety, and lack of trust. Getting to know her and earning her trust has been one of the biggest accomplishments of my life. She still displays a sweet disposition, polite manners, and a fun-loving personality. I felt like she was my dog and my good friend and we were stepping forward into a happy life.
BOY, WAS I WRONG!
I was wrong in assuming that MoMo has graduated from the frightened and insecure dog into a confident dog in just four months. Now I realize that my over-confidence in her abilities and skills got us into trouble. Here are some things that happened.
Scene 1: Socialization at the Dog Park
I decided that it’s time to get MoMo involved in socialization skills with other dogs. I took her to the fenced-in dog park at Luther Burbank Park. We walked in slowly and let her sniff around to get familiarized with the new environment. She seemed fine so I released the leash from her collar. She saw three big wet dogs who had just emerged from the water and playing with each other. MoMo ran up to them. They immediately saw that she was a newcomer and started to chase her with ferocious speed. She ran as fast as she could, but she was no match for them and the three dogs jumped on her. Oh my gosh, my heart was beating so fast trying to figure out a way to get her out. I finally managed to isolate the shaken dog, leash her up, and walked out of the dog park. I apologized to her for what I’ve done. What made me think that she was ready to play with big dogs?
Scene 2: Stairway Fright
One hot evening, MoMo and I came home from a walk. We went to take the elevator up to our third-floor condo and saw a sign on the elevator door, “OUT OF ORDER, PLEASE TAKE THE STAIRWAY”. I walked MoMo to the foot of our stairway and said, “Let’s go up”. As soon as she saw the stairway, her body tightened up and she began pulling away from me. I said, “Come on MoMo, you’re not afraid of the stairs are you?” She resisted me with all her might as I tried to pull her up the stairway. She is so strong when she doesn’t want to do something, she can easily knock you down. On the third try to pull her up the stairs, she was so frightened that she bit her tongue. As I saw the blood dripping out from the corner of her mouth, I knew I pushed her beyond what she was able to handle. I thought, “Oh, oh. I’m in trouble. How am I going to get her home?”. There was only one answer… It would require me to carry a 32 lb. dog up three flights of stairs to get to our condo on the third floor. I decided that I would have to do what I needed to do. To make a story short, I did manage to carry a scared stiff dog all the way up to the third floor. Whew… that was truly frightening for me too.
Scene 3: Slippery Fall
It was a hot Sunday evening. MoMo was dusty and hot after running around with all her small dog friends at the park. I saw a dog wash area where dogs were being hosed down by the water before leaving the park. I thought, “this would be a perfect thing to do for MoMo. At least she can get her feet cleaned plus get cooled off from the heat. As I walked her into the area and turned on the water hose, she got frightened and pulled so hard to get away that my feet slipped on the watery area and I fell while still hanging onto her leash! I was not hurt except for a cut on my ring finger where the diamond on my wedding ring cut into my finger. After arriving home, I realized that my finger had swelled up so much that I was not able to get the ring off of my finger. I knew that I would not be able to wait until Monday, so I went to the Fire Station and it took two Firemen to saw the ring off my finger! I got home around 11:00 PM and MoMo was waiting for me by the door. She followed me everywhere, looking at me with a worried look on her face. I knew it was not her fault, but it was hard for me to be nice to her. I ignored her but she stayed right by my side. I really felt bad but I said to her, “Do you know how much trouble you are causing me?” She had the saddest look in her eyes but I didn’t give her a pet on her head as I normally would have. Instead, I just ignored her.
I could never understand when I heard that so many people returned their rescue dogs back to the pound after living with them for a while. For the first time, I realized how much love, compassion, commitment, and hard work it takes to care for older dogs that come from abused backgrounds. They know nothing about anything. Everything is new and the learning curve is so scary to them. It was wrong for me to assume that climbing the stairs, getting wet by a hose, or socializing with others is normal and should be expected.
Going through these experiences with MoMo taught me that it is no different in human interactions. We assume that everyone should think, act, and behave like us. We must remember that we have to help others by meeting them where they are at vs. where we are at or where we want them to be. If we can experience what it feels like to walk in their shoes, we will be able to show more love and understanding in every relationship we have in life.
CELEBRATING THE SMALL VICTORIES
Here is some good news:
MoMo is a Life-Long Learner, She is doing very well in her Level 2 Dog Training Classes.
MoMo has learned to chase after tennis balls.
MoMo continues to be sweet and polite inside our home.
MoMo is quite charming in how she snuggles her face between my legs and asks for a pet and a body rub.
A BIG THANK YOU
Thank you to all who donated funds for MoMo’s mission to help other dogs left behind in Korea. We sent a check for $1,200. to Ginger’s Pet Rescue.
If you got something out of what you read, please let me know. I’d love to hear what you have to say on this topic.