Lessons from Linus the Highness
Life lessons come about in the most surprising ways. It was almost a year ago that my wife and I spent 15 minutes trying to coax our new dog Linus into getting into our car. He was no longer an abandoned puppy at the Longmont Humane Society (which by the way is a phenomenal facility that makes these abandoned-to-rescued transitions as easy as possible on the animals). He was now going to have a loving home and every dog toy known to "man"... or at least every toy in petsmart that my wife thought was "cute" (full disclosure—now I'm the dog toy fiend, getting everything that will make him tail-wagging happy). With his one-year rescue anniversary upon us, I really wanted to reflect on the experience and share all the things I learned.
I've never owned or raised a dog in my life. So I mistakenly went into this relationship with the belief that I had to train him and I could stay exactly the same without changing. Little did I know that like any relationship, it truly is a equal partnership with both sides needing to grow. It was I that needed the training more than he did. Yes we were responsible for making sure we trained him for success, but we as parents had to take the first step.
The one thing that was going to take the most time was Linus' fear. He was extremely scared about everything. Even a ballon attached to a mailbox or a letter from the mailbox would put him into a fit of terror. I thought that I was a pretty strong individual (former New England division 3 pentathlon champion weighing in at 200 pounds), but when that UPS guy came to our front door holding a treat out in this hand, a fully sprinting 80 pound Linus pulled me on the grass swan dive style and I slide for several feet. I think all three of us were surprised (the UPS guy was apologetic, but gasped in amazement). This was not a healthy way for a dog to live in this world, afraid of everything around the corner.
I quickly found myself with a new favorite morning show (It's Me or the Dog with Victoria Stilwell) and going to Petsmart for a crash course (I was sold in one day at how responsive he could be with his training). And although I had many frustrating moments along the experience, I can honestly say that Linus the Highness (one of our many quirky names for him as he prances like a prince when he's happy) has taught me so much in life. Probably more than I've taught him. So I plan on sharing these stories and insights because they are important to me personally and they may provide others with help when taking in a new doggy member of the family (first tip: daycare is the best thing ever! More on this later...)
And most importantly, I'm using this a reinforcement to myself to keep on learning myself so that I can be the best parent possible. Because if I can't learn these lessons and be the best role model I can be, how can I expect him to be the best dog ever (which he arguably is!). I've had my fair share of lapses (mostly out of ignorance), but I keep picking up where I left off and moving forward—just like any other area in my life where I still have a lot to learn and grow.
Feel free to share any stories as well. I'd love to hear them.
About Rick Manelius
I'm a Drupal Ninja (brown belt), an aspiring author, a personal development fanatic, and an overall explorer of life. I own SoundPost Media, LLC— a Drupal agency that works with small to medium sized media compaies looking to improve their presence on the web. Stick around by subscribing to my feed, following me, or simply leaving a comment below. I appreciate you stopping by!