“Sometimes it seems like all they know how to say is ‘no.’ You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve heard it, and I’ve only been in this new place for a few hours, most of which was spent taking a slumber on the cool marble floor. It sounds very simple, and yet it’s so difficult! All I wanted to do was bark at the weird round object staring back at me in the corner…and at the strange two-legged creatures walking back and forth…and at the blanket crumpled so it looks like another animal…and when I made a mess on the floor…what’s wrong with that?”
“‘No…’ what exactly does it mean? When she says it in a sharp, slightly high but firm tone, I stop what I’m doing out of startlement and a bit of confusion, and then she changes her tone immediately and says, ‘good girl.’ Is that a good thing? I think so, because then she pets me, which I really like. This creature–I don’t think she’s quite like me (my first indicator was that she did not walk on all four legs; two are flailing uselessly at her sides, and she doesn’t make the same sounds as I do)–kind of reminds me of my mom. She’s the one who makes me feel all fuzzy and warm inside when she pets and holds me. She talks to me a lot too, and most of time I just look at her quizzically, which elicits a response of ‘you’re so cute!’ in a high-voice.”
“Sometime in the evening, she takes me out of the house and into the yard. This new place is overwhelming with novel sights, smells, and sounds, so I opt to stay close to her; making sure I was a shadow and followed her everywhere. As we walk, she repeats ‘good girl’ over and over, and she looks very happy, so I’m happy too. Suddenly, as I’m prancing behind her, I am overwhelmed with the urge to urinate, so I stopped on the bed of rocks and let it go. This time around, instead of saying ‘no’ in that ugly, harsh tone, she says, ‘good girl!’ I’m a little dumbfounded, but I really like it when she says those two words, especially with that smile on her face. There’s a friendly, happy vibe when she does, which makes me happy too. My tail starts wagging of its own accord as soon as I finish, and there’s a smile on my face. Why are we all so happy? All I did was urinate on the rocks instead of on carpet inside…oh well. Back to running!”
“It’s nighttime now, and I’m exhausted. Within a couple of hours, I went from being the only one left of all my brothers and sisters to stay with our parents to riding in a car to this strange place that has the same things as my old home (there are chairs upon which I’m not allowed; there’s the smell of food I’m not allowed to eat, etc) and yet is not my old home. I wonder if all my siblings went to strange places too and met nice people like the ones who are here, especially the girl. This place isn’t so strange anymore though. I’ve already had many happy moments here and believe there are many more to come.”
**This story is based on Angie’s experience with her golden retriever, Sunny, of ten years. Based on her memory of events and behaviors, Angie speculates what Sunny may have been thinking and/or felt during the moments written about in the blog to give owners a different perspective on dog ownership and training.
Written by Angie Nguyen, Behavior Support Specialist at Sarah’s Pet Care Revolution