The same week we moved into our first house, we adopted Chico. Thinking back on that time, our lives where quite complicated. Our first home was a fixer-upper, and the first thing that needed to be done was the daunting task of updating our extremely old and barely functioning bathroom. We learned quickly that Chico is not sound reactive. He took to the noises of remodeling in stride. Open holes in the floor, no big deal, and the remodel crew shouting and tearing out the bathroom, no problem for Chico.
The remodel was a success and I was glad to finally shower in a heated room rather than a cold unfinished basement. The best part of the remodel was decorating a bathroom fit for a princess. While at a local shop, I found the neatest little framed sign. It said the simplest message that struck a note with me, "Faith, to hope for things which are not seen, but are true." I purchased the sign and hung it in our new bathroom. At the time, I had no idea how much this saying would come to mean to me.
True Dog, Chico
Around the time I hung the sign and decorated our new bathroom, I began to notice that Chico was becoming more reactive. His reactivity seemed to come out of no where and it was shocking to my novice naive abilities. I was desperate to understand what was happening to my shy, submissive, loving boy. Of course I didn't know anything about reactivity in those days and I continued to take him out and expose him to situations he wasn't comfortable with.
One morning, I had Chico out on a run, and this in itself was out of character for us, I normally run with Chico in the evening. On this day, I came to a intersection when a man surprised both Chico and I as he stepped around a corner. The man was too close to us and Chico became very panicked. Normally I would have moved out of the way, but I didn't see him coming and I was preoccupied with picking up after Chico. The man didn't seem concerned with Chico's barking and lunging, and kept walking towards us. Hindsight tells me I should have told the man to stop moving forward and gotten Chico to the other side of the road even if it meant physically picking Chico up and moving him. But I didn't do that, and Chico continued to bark and lunge towards the man, who was getting uncomfortably close. This incident really frightened me. This moment, complied with all the other reactive moments that Chico was having towards bikers and runners, had me terror stricken. I was desperate, disappointed, sad, and confused. I was sure that I was in over my head with a dog who was terrified of strangers.
Border Collie, Chico taking a break from a run and drinking
Faith: To Hope For Things Which Are Not Seen, But Are True
These summer days were the darkest I had ever had with Chico. I was petrified by his behavior and I didn't know what to do. My trust and love for him told me that he was a good dog and wasn't aggressive, but the reality was, outside of the house, Chico was completely uncomfortable and out of control when we confronted other people. During these stormy summer days, I remember going into our newly remodeled bathroom and crying, desperate tears, wondering what to do with my wildly reactive dog. I searched for the courage to do right by Chico. When I picked my head up, I read the little sign, "Faith, to hope for things which are not seen, but are true."
This sign was quite fitting, really, the quote was taken from a bible verse. Although, I must admit, I don't consider myself a religious person in that I rarely attend church, and probably couldn't recite much from the bible. With that said, I do consider myself a spiritual person. I see God everywhere in nature, and I see his work particularly in animals. I revel in the beauty that's been created on this earth. When I look into my dogs eyes, I see a creature that God has touched and sent to this earth to be the most honest and true animal of all.
Border Collie, Chico has faith
We've come a long way since those dark days. Chico's reactivity is now managed through behavior modification techniques, and with the aid of the herbal supplement L-Theanine. If there's any doubt how far Chico's come, I think back to those days and see the truths.
I continue to have endless amounts of "faith" in Chico. Time is proving that Chico has achieved and conquered more than I could hope for. I've always known my beliefs in Chico were true and he proves it everyday being my True Dog
I have the "Faith, to hope for things which are not seen, but are true," for Chico, for Rue, and for your dogs. I'd love to hear about your stories. Do you have faith in your dog, to hope for things which are not seen, but are true?
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*The quote from our bathroom sign is taken from the bible verse (Heb. 11:1, Alma 32.21). Source