For those of you who are not familiar with what Wiggle Waggle is, it is the yearly fund raising walk for the Pasadena Humane Society that I have attended for several years. It is held at the Rose Bowl and I have always enjoyed bringing my dog and seeing every type of dog imaginable, while taking a nice stroll on a Sunday morning around one of Pasadena’s most well-known landmarks.
My last two dogs, before Kody (Chelsea and Samantha) both came from the Pasadena Humane Society. I have taken dog training classes there and I think it is one of the nicest animal shelters I have ever seen. My support of the PHS has not changed. What has changed is my love for attending the actual event.
I had an epiphany this week and that was, if I were to attend this year, I would have to go alone. No dog to walk with me. Just me. Why? Because Kody would be miserable if he came with me.
I had planned to drag him down there, telling myself he would be fine when he got there, which is what I did last year.
He wasn’t. We weren’t even out of the parking lot before Kody broke away from the D-Man and tackled a dog behind him to the ground. Luckily, the dog surrendered and the only thing hurt was the other dog’s pride, but I realized at that moment, that his issues with other dogs was very real. After that experience, I did what I always do when an obstacle to what I want presents itself. Put together a plan and set a goal. Kody would be darn ready to go see hundreds of dogs and LOVE IT by Wiggle Waggle 2017!
I proceeded to get help from a wonderful place called The Zen Dog. They have currently been getting a lot of press because Lena Dunham had to surrender one of her dogs to them. Matt, the owner, did home training with us. Kody continues to visit The Zen Dog for play dates and some boarding time. But Matt had told me from the beginning, it was a process and he might never be the life of any dog parties in the future. I held steadfast. He would be ready for Wiggle Waggle 2017!
After being pulled to the ground and tearing up my leg two different times while walking him and having him see another dog, I took another class. Reactive Rover at the PHS. This was more about changing how I reacted to him, while we continued to work on his issues at The Zen Dog.
I have seen progress. He can see another dog across the street and not lose his mind. When we do pass another dog close to us, he still reacts, but recovers from the episode almost immediately, instead of me ending up with massive cuts and bruises. When he goes for play dates at The Zen Dog, they have several dogs he can be near, instead of just one or two. But is he ready for Wiggle Waggle 2017? Not by a long shot. I have come to the realization that he may never be attending Wiggle Waggle. An instructor at PHS compared being a dog afraid of other dogs to a human being afraid of snakes. If you were afraid of snakes and someone put you in a room with a hundred snakes and said, “It’s ok. They won’t bite you.” Would that make you less afraid of snakes?
Wiggle Waggle, to Kody, is a room full of snakes.
From the day I brought him home, he stared at me like I was the most beautiful human he had ever laid eyes. He loves watching HGTV and “Nashville” all curled up on the couch with me. Or maybe he just pretends and would really rather watch ESPN, but he never lets on. If I get frustrated with a work meeting, angry at my computer or upset at the Packers, he runs into the room and puts his paw on me until I cuddle him and tell him I am fine. He lets me brush his teeth with a toothbrush. He dutifully follows me to my room every night, even though he would rather sleep in the living room, because I would rather he sleep closer to me. His love for me is eternal.
We spend a lot of time teaching our dogs things. Sit, stay, lay down, come. But they teach us many things too. I had hopes for him, things I wanted him to be, that he will never be. He is Kody, a dog who is far from perfect. Yet, he still manages to be a tolerant, loving brother to a crabby cat named Kato and can stay in the house for twelve hours without any damage or bathroom accidents.
We have the same hopes and dreams for the humans in our lives. We want our children to be football stars, rock stars and marry someone of the opposite sex, ready to produce two perfect grandchildren. We want our mates to be wildly romantic, wonderfully attentive and still make six figures. We want our friends to be loyal and put our issues before their own lives.
Instead, our children get regular jobs, love someone we don’t approve of and pursue a life we never wanted for them. Our mates forget to bring flowers on our birthday. Our friends forget our birthday all together. But yet, when push comes to shove, our children love us, our mates and our friends stand by us. When we really need them. When it really matters.
Our dogs are not perfect. The people in our lives are not perfect.
That is what our dogs teach us. They never expect us to live up to high expectations. They love us for who we are, where we are, what we are.
We owe them the same. Maybe we owe all the people in our lives, exactly the same.