I tend to wonder what my rescue dogs would be like if I had gotten them, socialized them, and trained them from puppies. Tatum is the one I wonder about the most. I think she would be a complete confident terror if I would have gotten her at 12 weeks old from a responsible breeder who had also taken steps to expose her to everything possible when she was little. She is still pretty afraid of new situations and places she has never been to before. At the agility trial, her tail was up and she was curious about everything. Checking out people and dogs and not having any issues. When we walked to another building on Saturday, she changed to ‘scaredie dog’ and tucked her tail and wanted to dart away.

If she had been exposed to all these things as a puppy, she would face everything with confidence in herself and curiousity to explore. Hopefully I’ll be able to fix her, I hope completely, of her fears. Only time will tell.

I also wonder about Muffit. He’s about 4 years old, and I get to fix his pulling on a leash, his yapping and barking when I leave him crated, his frantic behavior when he’s over stimulated. He is, also, a broken dog that needs fixing. Granted he is not as bad as he could be… he’s not aggressive at all, and he’s not as fearful as Tatum. But he’s very under confident and he rolls on his back for approval and acceptance.

Chase does some of the approval seeking too. His tail wagging, his jumping up on people.. he’s just saying “will you like me please?” and Muffit is the same way. Tatum is not, but she’s a girl collie and she has that sassiness typical of the female collies in her. She doesn’t pawn and fuss for approval, instead she just wants to make sure she’s not in any danger and no one will hurt her or restrain her.

Of course even puppies from good breeders can have issues. Some they are born with, some us handlers give to them without even knowing it. And yes I admit to that, too. That is just part of life. Just like people tend to mess up their kids, us handlers can mess up our young dogs, too. But that’s neither here nor there. The rescues have it worse off. They didn’t get a good start, and they need a lot of extra understanding.

I swear sometimes I think 70% of people who have dogs, shouldn’t. Having a dog companion is not something to make a rash decision about. It’s serious caring for another living being. And even if you don’t totally understand how dogs learn and think and behave (like dogs, they are not people in suits), you still have to accept them as dogs, as individuals, and work with and learn from them.

The experience of having a dog companion is unlike any other in the world. It’s amazing and enriching. And I feel bad for those people who will never experience it.