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If you’ve been following my blogs at all you might already know that I have a 6 1/2-year-old shepherd/pit mix dog named Frisbee who is the love of my life but unfortunately, has fear aggression.
I wrote an 8 part blog series sharing our journey with Frisbee that was met with an overwhelming response. If you haven’t read it you can start with part one by clicking here.
Jump ahead to this moment in time and where we are in our continued journey with Frisbee.
Nothing different happened that caused me to seek out a different method of training but the every day living with an unpredictable dog was causing us so much stress and anxiety. You might even say that we were being held prisoners by our dog.
We have to limit our vacations because we can’t board him anywhere or hire a pet sitter.
Our middle daughter wants to vacation with us with her new husband but that will never happen because she’s the only one who can come and feed Frisbee when we are out of town.
Our everyday living consists of always being worried that someone didn’t shut the front door, or the auto shut, dead bolt gate wasn’t shut properly. Or maybe just worrying constantly that one of us would make a human mistake that would put Frisbee’s life on the line as well as possible get someone hurt.
I was exhausted.
I love Frisbee. He’s like a son to me and I will never give up on him.
So, while I said nothing really happened that caused us to look into some other training, you might say I lied.
Okay, maybe a white lie.
Here’s what really happened…
It was a Tuesday morning early. I got up early to make sure Frisbee was fed and had time to go to the bathroom before our cleaning lady arrived. Frisbee is in a crate while she is in our home so I need to make sure all of his morning rituals are handled before she arrives.
It started like any other Tuesday except for one thing.
Frisbee was agitated about something. What? I don’t know. He just kept growling at nothing. He laid on his pillow in the living room and just kept growling towards the front door. No one was at the door so I couldn’t figure out what was unsettling him.
I sat with him on his pillow and pet him but I can’t say I was entirely comfortable knowing he was agitated.
This is where the first human mistake was made.
Are you wondering what that mistake was?
Here it is.
I should have put him in his crate pretty quick when he was acting agitated. I should have removed him from the environment that was clearly upsetting him.
But I didn’t. I don’t know why I didn’t especially since I’ve worked so much with trainers and that’s what I would have been told to do.
Instead, I just kept petting him until my little sweet, blind, deaf, diabetic 13-year-old Shih Tzu, Macie, started walking towards us. I noticed that Frisbee’s food bowl still had food in it so I thought it might be a good idea to move it. I didn’t want Macie to get too close and have Frisbee get protective of his bowl even though that wasn’t typical behavior for him.
But remember, he wasn’t behaving normally so all bets were off.
I got up to take his bowl to the kitchen and I heard him growl and Macie yelp. I am guessing Macie just got too close or bumped into him or whatever and Frisbee didn’t like that.
I yelled at Frisbee and he stopped. Macie didn’t appear to be hurt but I felt really bad that I let that happen.
Typically Frisbee and Macie got along just fine. They didn’t necessarily play because of the size difference and Macie’s illnesses, but they got along.
When my husband heard me scream at Frisbee he came running down the stairs. Mistake number two is about to happen.
He ordered Frisbee to his crate while at the same time Martha, our cleaning lady, was ringing the doorbell.
I went to let Martha in and thought Peter was securing Frisbee in his crate. I came back in and Martha went about her routine and about 5 minutes later I decided to give Frisbee a bully stick.
What I saw made my heart sink.
When I walked into the office I saw that Frisbee was in his crate but the door was wide open. I literally gasped.
I shut the door of the crate and latched it and took a minute to catch my breath. It was then I realized we made two big mistakes that morning and those mistakes could have gotten Martha hurt and Frisbee in trouble.
You see, when I look back at the situations we’ve experienced due to Frisbee’s fear aggression there is a common pattern.
What’s the common pattern?
Our mistakes were putting Frisbee in situations where he would likely fail. We were setting him up to fail. Not intentionally of course, but it was happening nonetheless.
What happened next?
Stay tuned for part 2 where I share how fate managed to step in that day.