Meet Chance. He’s the new addition to our household. After researching pits and Staffys online, in person, at meet and greets, and talking to different “dog people”, Chance came into the picture.
As a dog from the Hawaiian Humane Society, we don’t know much about him or his background. We know he was found as a stray, is between 2-3 years old, and is possibly some kind of terrier mix (we’re hoping his wider chest/stance means there’s some pit mixed in). He is VERY affectionate with people, and not afraid to ask for more petting from anyone he just met, meaning he probably had a home in the past.
We’ve had Chance for three weeks as of this writing, and I can’t imagine not knowing him. He lives in the moment, instead of worrying about how dirty he’ll get walking through dirt and mud. He has patience I don’t have, and stubbornness that I completely understand. I feel the life in him when I walk over the carpet and feel the warmth of where he was just laying.
The first 24 hours were not the easiest. I doubted my decision of getting a dog, I had anxiety, I cried, I didn’t sleep, I lost my appetite. All this, and we started crate training. The first few times in the crate were smooth, easy experiences. The next day however, was another story. Chance decided the crate was the worst thing ever, didn’t want to go near it, and didn’t even want to drink water from a bowl that was once in the crate.
After talking to a friend who worked with dogs for years and was even a trainer, she told me that he’s testing me, and if I give up now, it could be the start of a sick relationship. He’ll know exactly what to do anytime he doesn’t like something. If you’ve ever had to pick up a 40+ pound dog, and try to outsmart and out-muscle them into a tiny space, you understand the stress and frustration.
Over and over again (on the hour):
Give the command phrase.
Throw in a treat.
Fight and struggle to get him in as quick and emotionless as possible.
Give lots of praise and treats for being in.
Wait a few minutes until he settles and relaxes, then let him out.
Finally, something clicked on the second day together (it felt a lot longer) – he willingly went into the crate with just the command phrase. Later that night, he even went in to rest without ANY command phrase given. From then on, he calmly walks in with the given command phrase, or when he’s tired at the end of the night and wants to rest.
It’s amazing how fast you bond with another being (a dog, a cat, or a person). Recently reading about Benny Pointer, a dog and his last days alive, broke my heart (it’s a real-life story that went viral). It reminded me that even though Chance is still young, and only three weeks old in our home, he probably won’t have 50 or 60 years with us, much less, even 20.
It feels like I learned a semester’s worth of “New Dog in Your Home 101”, in just a matter of two weeks. I am touched and beyond grateful for the support I’ve received from others – from advice on vets, training, and food, to rescheduling and relocating meetings, because I can’t leave Chance alone at home for too long yet, to covering for me at work, to teaching training techniques, and gifting doggie items. Besides just bonding with the dog, this experience gave me the opportunity to bond even more with the people in my life.
Chance is now getting a second chance in a home, with a new family, but more so, he is giving us a chance to experience life with a dog.
For anyone who hasn’t read Benny’s Story, it’s a really touching story that was posted on Facebook from a dog’s point of view, that recently went viral. Click HERE to read (grab some tissues first).