Tasha Tuesday: The Meltdown

Yesterday was not the best day I ever had with Tasha. When you are working hard to rehabilitate a reactive dog, the path to success is never, I repeat, never smooth. After months of steady progress toward non-reactivity, Tasha lost her cool yesterday when a very calm dog walked past the side of our house when we were outside enjoying the beautiful 70 degree weather (it’s October in Wisconsin so we have to celebrate the warmth). I mean, Tasha was barking incessantly, growling, clawing to get her way under the fence, and all in all not listening. She “saw red.” Nothing else on earth existed except getting to the dog and the obstacles in her way to do it. I was terrified that she might actually make it there.

So, after calming her down and letting her run around the yard for a little bit, I decided that I needed out of the house. While grocery shopping, I had a not-so-nice encounter with an employee at the local Piggly Wiggly and when I got back to the car, I melted down. All I could think was, “I am not strong enough to do this. We have to give her back to the rescue.” I have never truly given up on Tasha, because I know how amazing of a dog she can really be and how much she has to overcome. But, in that moment, with the tears streaming down my face, sitting in the car in at the local Pig, I nearly gave up on my abilities to help her.

Luckily for me, that’s when LD realized he needed to step up. In the past few months, he had stopped walking her, training her, and disciplining her in an effective manner. She became his little cuddlemiester, and as adorable as that is, I resented him for it. Here I was doing all of the hard work that comes with a dog who has problems, and he would come home and take a lot of the good things that come with dog ownership. I just didn’t realize how much I resented him for it, until I was sitting in that parking lot with the tears streaming down my face. It isn’t that I didn’t mention these feelings prior to the meltdown. I think they just didn’t they registered with LD. In marriage, oddly enough, communication gets worse.

However, LD has realized how much I need his help with Tasha. He even woke up early this morning to walk her before I even woke up. If that’s not love (for both the pup and me), I don’t know what is.

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About Danielle Beranek

Life can get away from you when being young, married, and still fairly fresh out of college. Taking on a pet, student loans, going back to school, and soon a new house is enough to leave ones head spinning. For me, life is crazy, but only on the outside.
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4 Responses to Tasha Tuesday: The Meltdown

  1. You, your dog, and your husband sound very sweet.
    I don’t know if you are looking for advice, but I’ll tell you what worked with our dog in case it helps. We took our dog to training and taught her the command “leave it” to refer to objects and animals she should ignore. It worked great with objects but seemed to irritate her further when she was barking at a dog. So we took the advice of another trainer and started saying “that’s enough, thank you”. I guess our tone changed and that command works better. If she is going crazy in the house barking out the window, I now speak nicely to her and say “do you see the nice dog? I like that dog.” When she calms I praise her and give her a treat. The idea is to teach her to have a calm and happy reaction to seeing other dogs walk by. So far, it works:)

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    • Thank you so much for your advice! At this point, our dog is very good at leave it and every other distraction below a certain threshold. It’s those moments where she gets super focused on something in fearful aggression that nothing we do works to snap her out of it. It only happens about once a month now on about a 7 or 8 out of 10 in terms of intensity, which we can (with work) get her back under control, but yesterday she hit a 10, which we haven’t seen for at least 7 months. When we first got her, she had been bounced around at a rescue after being abused on the streets of an inner city throughout her puppyhood. When she is at a lower intensity, I usually have to just give her a look to get her to stop. However, having a reactive dog of any kind is a total emotional drain. I just hit my breaking point yesterday of feeling like I was in it alone. I would have loved to get that advice when we first got her a year ago! I struggled those first few months until I hit upon that advice.

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  2. Beth says:

    I just found your blog. I know it isn’t easy to foster. Thank you so much for spending your time and energy to help Tasha!

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    • I would actually love to foster once Tasha is more adjusted, but we actually took the plunge and adopted her even with knowing all her issues. She is a challenge, but she reminds me of me when I was younger. Thanks for reading!

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