It’s been two years since Rocket came to our home, and while he was a nightmare for a long time, we enlisted help, and we’re thankful we did. We’re giving you an update on how our rescue dog is doing now.
When we first adopted Rocket it was a huge adjustment, and one I was pushing against.
He was wild, into everything, he chewed shoes, barked at everything and drove me crazy. Just watch the video here.
When you adopt a dog, you want to make sure you’re his forever home. Admittedly, I had doubts I could do it for him. I was so overwhelmed by this dog that I felt like I was going out of my mind.
The worst part about Rocket’s behaviour was the separation anxiety. He freaked out every time we left his sight. It got worse when we left the house.
He’d bark like crazy, jumping on everything and caused neighbours to complain.
We gave it a good shot. I mean, a year and a half of rushing home, buying all the things that promise to ease his anxiety and spending hundreds in doggy daycare. We even left a friend’s wedding early to be home before the neighbours could call bylaw on us.
Then Janet from Waterdogs K9 Center walked into our lives and I’m forever grateful for that day. And for her. For her incredible approach to training and her immense patience.
For 6 weeks he did the board and train program (3 weeks longer than normal because he was a hard case to crack).
We needed training as well.
Now that we’ve come through the program, our lives are so much better. The overwhelm is gone and I can honestly say there’s harmony in our home again!
Here are things we’ve learned from the process, and if we could go back in time and right the wrongs, believe me we would.
If you’re ever thinking of bring a dog into your home, I hope this helps.
Know Who’s Boss
I used to say all the time, “he’s not my dog,” or “ I didn’t want a dog”. I’d try to avoid contact with him or push him away. I would force my family to do the work with him instead of me.
When Janet met Rocket she knew right away he was attached to me and I needed to get over myself. Stop avoiding the inevitable. And she was right. Since I stepped fully into that role, there’s been a lot more harmony.
He loves to sleep in his bed by my desk while I work. We run together on the trail. He cuddles with me constantly too. He’s my dog and I actually really love that.
Find as Much Background as Possible
One of our biggest regrets is not asking more questions when we adopted him. We met the Foster family at a Petsmart and took him home that day. They said they wanted to make sure we were the right fit and they determined that within 5 minutes.
Um, I can’t decide on anything in 5 minutes.
It wasn’t until we were home, we realized we had a lot of questions, like why he was neutered at 4 months. How many families had him? Why was he surrendered? They didn’t even have his breed right!
Ask the questions, not to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but to make sure you understand what his past was like and what you’re in for.
My gut tells me he had a rough first four months and it makes me really sad for him.
Remember, He’s a Dog
This one might be controversial but hear me out.
I would feel bad for being hard on him. Or for putting him in his crate while I had to go to work. I would feel guilty if he only went for one or two walks a day instead of the three.
This dog was running my life, when he really should have just been complimenting it.
Janet made me realize this. He’s a dog. Not a Kardashian.
I know people love to spoil their dogs, and I get it. But I needed to put myself and my mental health before the spoiled furball. He’s still loved and spoiled, but I’m in control, not him.
Make it a Family Job
I think the reason why I was so overwhelmed is that I felt like it all fell to me to care for him, but we’ve made it a family effort.
We all walk him together pretty much every day, which is so good for all of us and our health. Cooper is responsible for feeding him and playing with him. I am the master cuddler and I take him for runs on the trail (although he really does affect my time!).
He still gets up through the night, and that’s my husband’s job.
Honestly, the team effort has truly helped.
Don’t Stop the Training
The biggest thing Janet helped with is the anxiety in the crate. He still shakes a bit, but the barking and panting has improved.
All throughout the day we’re working with him and forcing him to use his brain to find food, earn food and so many other things.
There are days when I am tired, but he needs to be stimulated and that can’t take a break. He’s looking for it now and he’s paying attention to us better because of it.
Don’t Care What Others Think
Remember that neighbour who complained? We don’t care anymore. The most important thing is to make Rocket know he’s safe and loved.
We e-collar train him too, which is controversial, but he’s well trained and that’s what matters, not other people’s opinions.
We’re just scratching the surface on things that we have changed, but the main take away is that he’s doing so much better. And so are we.
We’re having fun with him every day and showing him love. For a rescue dog, that’s especially important.
While he’s been a lot of hard work for us and for Janet, we’re happy to say he’s worth it.