I am constantly reminding myself to slow down, look both ways, stop for 2-seconds, use my blinker and turn my lights on. Oh, and don't forget about the parking brake!
Consciously, I have to remind myself to breathe and not push him or I too much, too fast or too soon. Instead of going 20+ over the posted speed, I have little signs that I am controlling and making pop up every 50 yards. These signs read anything from "Wow, good job buddy...you auto-checked in" to "You're just fine...there's nothing in the bushes." to "We'll get through this ear cleaning together...and there will be beef baby food at the commencement!" to "Thank you for "telling" me that you are uncomfortable; I will take care of it for you."
There have been several posts on this blog about the frustrations Oscar has brought me as an owner, as a dog parent, as a human being. What I wanted in him as a puppy (and asked for from his breeder) is not what I got. First and foremost, we wanted a GSD for our family. We did get that. Very true. But, I also wanted a GSD with a good temperament that would allow me to do therapy work with kids. I did not get that. Oscar has shotty nerves, a lot of fear-driven reactivity and has a hard time adjusting to new situations. Do I expect any breeder to be able to predict the future of their dogs? Nope, but I feel like I was mislead. The breeder chose him for us and I know enough now that I won't let that happen again...or if it does, it will be with someone I have a better relationship with before considering a puppy from him or her.
Aaron and I have gotten in to many discussions about this and we have gotten mad, upset at his breeder, gotten upset and frustrated at Oscar, gotten mad at each other, but we realize that getting upset/mad/frustrated will not fix anything. It is OK to have these feelings, but accepting Oscar for who he is, where he is in his life journey and continuing on together is going to get us all where we need to be.
All this said, the relationship Aaron and I both share with Oscar should be a two-way street. Oscar needs to be a willing participant in our journey together. I'm reminded of Suzanne Clothier's wonderful analogy of our relationship with dogs as a dance. It takes two partners to dance...and to have the timing, footsteps and harmony just right to feel right doing it. Two. Not one.
This week I've been doing a better job at communicating with Oscar. I have, literally, been talking to him out loud about my intentions. "Oscar, we are going to go a short walk together. I know you don't like walking too much when it is dark outside, but I will take care to make sure nothing bad happens to you or I. Then, when we get back, we are going to play a really fun fetch game with the frisbee! Sound good?" If nothing else, he is actually looking at me when I talk to him this way and it is an audible reminder for me what we are going to do...together.
The journey ahead of us will be exactly how it is supposed to be and my duty is to be a willing participant. All I ask for in return is for the involvement to be reciprocal. It's a two-way street.