Getting To Know Your Dog

As those early days of getting to know this animal, a rude awakening unfolded-when I walked her in the park or the neighborhood or anywhere for that matter, she got into fights with other dogs. It didn’t matter how big or small they were-she was a fighter. Initially, I used a choker, then a harness, then a choker, than a collar, but to no avail. She lunged fiercely at other dogs not matter what I did and even pulled me flat on my face on several occasions. I was furious with her, with my husband and most of all myself for agreeing to keep a dog that I couldn’t control. Truth be told, I succumbed a few times to my fantasy of letting her be free by “letting her run off leash”. Oh what a price I paid for that delusion!

Lady Dog has taught me some serious life lessons about commitment, consistency, patience, freedom and my responsibility to dog ownership and care that took me into new territory emotionally and financially.

Fast forward to December 2007 when my husband of 14 years and I separated. I left our house and moved in with my daughter and two young grandsons. Lady stayed at the house with my ex-husband while I licked my wounds and figured out next steps. My daughter already owned two very unruly spoiled Malteses named Coach and Prada who I didn’t enjoy being around very much. So come January my husband moves out and can’t keep Lady at his new apartment. I’ve already lost a house and a husband and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing this dog, but what about her aggressiveness and living with the two yappy Maltese????

I had a kennel built in the backyard of the house I now shared with my daughter and grandsons. It cost about $1500 with the fencing, pavers, doghouse, etc. When it was done and I brought Lady home and put her in it-she went ballistic. She barked all the time and when the Malteses came into the yard they barked at her which drove her crazy. We did this transition all wrong and my worst fear came true-Lady busted down the gate and attacked Coach and nearly killed him. All of this happened while my daughter and I were in the house.

So after the emergency vet visit to the tune of $800 and many tears later- Coach survived multiple puncture wounds and lives today minus 3 or 4 teeth. You know, every time I’ve had a “bad” experience with this dog, it’s been only myself to blame. So ok, I’m watching Cesar Milan faithfully and I’m calling a local dog trainer for help. So I pay this trainer $125 for an hour of his time with Lady-but I learned a ton! The pinch collar has transformed our walks into a pleasant time together with me in control now instead of her pulling me everywhere. I’ve lost 30 pounds since I now walk-run her everyday for nearly an hour sometimes twice daily.

So things were going better until one day when I left her in the kennel to go shopping with my Daughter. When we returned home after a few hours to find that Lady had left town and done some serious damage on her way out. Our back sliding screen door was ripped to shreds and she was gone. I walked the neighborhood and called for her-she was nowhere to be found. I was in a panic and my imagination was running rampant-did she attack some other dog? Did someone find her friendly nature and good looks to good to pass up and take her in? Was she lying dead somewhere, hit by a car or truck?

I called the pound and praise the lord, they had her in custody. A kind dog loving neighbor had called them upon finding her in their yard. I paid the $40 release fee and brought her home and tried to figure out how to keep her in the kennel. In the meantime, she ended up in the house most of the time and I had to play musical dogs all the time to keep them separated&.sigh&.


I had just taken her up the stairs after a walk when I released her leash before I got the gate open-she turned tail and ran down the street quite a ways. I was running after as fast as I could when the whole ugly fight scenario broke out. A woman was walking her little white dog and Lady headed straight for her and tore her to pieces. The woman was screaming helplessly and by the time I got there and pulled her off the little white dog had been punctured and shaken pretty badly. I can’t tell you how awful I felt-I walked Lady back to the kennel and threw a bucket of water on her bloody face. She slinked into her doghouse and I gave the poor woman my name and phone number.

So $870 later Chanel (the little white dog) recovered. Chanels’ owners had called the cops but didn’t file charges because I paid the bill. I called around to find another home for Lady, but never seriously pursued this course of action. My daughter thought I was nuts to keep Lady since she was such a risky liability and if there was another incident they would put her down.

All this happened last spring and here I am coming into September. I have let her run off leash only twice when we were in a remote wooded area. The last time she ran off and I called her for nearly an hour as I walked the path back only to find her waiting for me at the end of the trail.

Several months ago I purchased a 30 foot lead which I use to train her to come when I call, but I’ve been too inconsistent with this aspect of training. So I’m upping my commitment to be more consistent with this and do it at least 3x per week. I also purchased a competition pulling harness which I’ve yet to use. I keep thinking I’m going to buy a wagon or cart and teach her to pull it. I know she would be really good at this-I just need to move on it.

August 30th-Today I took Lady