If you have been following this blog for awhile, or catch glimpses of our life on social media – then you know Bessette world is 100% Quinlan and the rest of us are just living in it! Even during our early years dating we ALWAYS talked about our future dog. I would venture to say more than we even talked about our own kiddos. Growing up dogs were big part of both of our families so when we dreamed of a future life together there was no doubt that fantasy included a dog.
For many years I was pretty certain we would end up with a Chocolate Lab named Ottawa. It was a type of dog we both really enjoyed and the name had turned from a joke (hockey fans to the tenth degree), to a pretty good name for our future pooch! Fast forward a few years, throw a couple left hang rings in there and a shared last name…. and we were ready – only problem, we were apartment and condo people. We had been married for three years once it was time to get serious and our homes had always been on the smaller side. Pretty quickly our Chocolate Lab dream faded…. and in its place, this funny little fox like dog Danny had seen on a run in Old Town a few years earlier, a Shiba Inu. It was a great size dog – 20-35lbs, did not seem like a “girl dog” and yet it was clean and considered “aparment friendly”. And the search for our own Shiba was on!
As most hopeful pet owners we dreamed of the puppy stage – and as we exchanged pictures and videos of Shibas, that breed was particularly precious as wee ones, and we started the research for a pup of our own. Well all of the breeders we found were unbelievably expensive and several states away….so the next best thing, we would rescue. Daily Danny and I were refreshing DC Shiba Inu Rescue for a red shiba of youngish age. Long story short our perfect match “Sanji” came to be and we began the process of adoption. A few applications and interview calls, plus one home visit later and we were in the running….. and able to meet him. That visit about melted our hearts and we were dreaming of the day this doggy would be ours!! Since it was right around March 17, and considering our own Irish descent we settled on Quinlan, Irish for “little bear”.
Our first few months at home were pretty easy. He was not a chewer, completely bathroom trained and although he was not very friendly with other dogs, he got along with our parent’s golden retrievers so we were happy enough. This dog moved into our home and as silly as it sounds – right on into our hearts! Before we knew it – we had one spoiled rotten pup on our hands. When we had first gotten him, he had been removed from the only home he knew, put in a shelter, fixed, and then taken out of the shelter to a foster home with another pup in a matter of days. It is safe to say, he was shell shocked! But as he become more settled, he was more confident to show us he was alpha dog. We had some unfortunate run ins with a few poodles and by the time we moved to our new house we were known as “those people” with the out of control dog. Sigh.
The sad part was 80% of the time he is really good and happy…..but once you mix in that other dog, whether on a walk or just barking outside our house, he loses his marbles. That added with a few anxiety things he has developed – like losing it every morning when I go to say good bye to Danny before work – we wondered if it was time for help. In our own world we have adapted – but the unknown of getting worse is still very real, and as we consider transplant time even more so – Quinlan may be a guest in some other homes…. so no time like the present to get him in school!
After a lot of research, talking with friends, contacting our vet, and a few interviews we choose Bark Busters. We felt of those we met with this group was the most committed to getting to know the dog and their family – in search of a successful training experience. Two weeks back we had our first lesson and signed on with the lifetime package- where the trainer will came back throughout the life of a dog to work on anything that should arise. For an anxious dog who is prone to being easily unnerved -we were sold.
Our first day of training we worked on introducing training aids, basic commands, and following the leader. Both Danny and I were pretty sure Quin would start off strong – but as even his playtime goes, once he was done or bored it would be over – with a battle of the wills for any chance of pushing him. Well we were shocked. By just a few new techniques, the encouragement to be “pack leader” – as a way of showing Quinlan he does not have protect us, because we are his masters – and we saw a HUGE change. Quinlan was engaged, following to a T, and focused on hearing all of our instructions. We always knew he was smart (Danny has taught him to give a hug, army crawl and wave all in a few days), so we weren’t surprised he could follow through with the commands – but we were surprised in his demeanor and overall interest in obeying.
This day ended with Quinlan a little unnerved and shaken up due to so much focused time around listening and following our lead. In fact we were a little nervous as to how long this sense of uneasy would last. Lucky of us the fear seemed to fade, but his respect for our commands and serious tone only seemed to strengthen. He would not walk in front of us on the leash, and never dared to go up or down the stairs without our approval. He followed the leader without a leash and even become calmer with outside noises. We were becoming the leader and even seen a more playful side of Quinlan, that enforced what he trainer said – our pup does not really want to be in charge, he wants to follow us.
As we prepare for session two this coming weekend, we are continuing to adjust his behavior so that Danny and I are pack leaders. Quinlan is to follow our commands, accept his new role, and we, as a family, are to learn to be a little more consistent. So far I would give us a 80%: we have a pup open to learning, we have several patterns set, and some exercises to practice. The downside – as life is busy it can be hard to stick to the rules on a consistent basis. But our progress certainly outweighs the difficulties and we are very excited to continue with our training. Happy School Days Quinlan – Mom and Dad are proud of you!!
Thank you for reading and remember to make it a great day!