Helping rescue organizations to rehabilitate difficult dogs is one of the many things I do to keep myself sane. With all the chaos of running a business, sometimes it’s easy to lose track of what’s important.
Kristy, the director of Buffalo Paws and Claws Animal Rescue, brought me a dog named Tobin, a shepherd mix, a few months ago because he was displaying some pretty serious food aggression.
Kristy and I worked together over a few sessions so I could give her some strategies to overcome this problem. The aggression however, proved to be too much for her to handle on her own, and she was growing increasingly afraid of Tobin. If Tobin couldn’t be rehabilitated, there was no way Kristy could safely adopt him out, so failure was not an option.
Together, we decided that it was best to enroll Tobin in my Boot Camp program.
Under the supervision of myself and my staff, Tobin turned into a model student. In fact, while he was here, he even helped us train other dogs.
At the end of a two week bootcamp, Tobin was showing no signs of aggression and, as the stars aligned, there was a human ready and waiting to adopt him.
I told Kristy that on the adoption day I would meet her and Tobin out at the new adopter’s home so I could show her the exercises that we had been working on, to ensure a smooth transition into her home. Everyone agreed, and as a team we were ready for Tobin’s big day.
I arrived at Tobin’s new home at 3:00 Friday afternoon, it was a gorgeous sunny day; the perfect day for an adoption. I peeked into the backyard and saw Kristy and Theresa, Tobin’s new mom. Tobin saw me and began dancing around on his hind legs, as if he was saying “Thank you!”. I looked around the yard, and was blown away. Tobin literally hit the Jackpot. Theresa’s home was equipped with a giant yard enclosed by a picket fence, a waterfall, a pool, beautiful landscaping, and Tobin even had his own dog house. Once we were all there Tobin began sprinting around the yard at top speed with a smile on his face that I had never seen. I took one look at him and said “He’s happy because he finally made it home.”
We brought Tobin inside, and prepared some food for him. I briefly demonstrated for Theresa the exercises that we used to help him overcome come his food aggression, using a balance of reward and correction. I explained that he had a lot of rehearsal in the past of being successful with acts of aggression, and although he was doing great, I wanted him to have more rehearsal of doing it the right way before he could be completely trusted around food. Theresa understood, went through all the exercises like a pro, and Tobin showed nothing but his gentle side. Kristy was blown away with the progress in just two weeks, as the last time she saw, he was snarling and biting if you came anywhere near him while eating.
Sometimes owning a business can wear you down, it’s easy to lose track of yourself. I am so proud of Tobin. I left Theresa’s house with a giant grin, grateful that I was able to be a part of Tobin’s life. These are the days that drive me. Thank you Tobin for breathing life into me.