Warning: This is going to be one of those posts where I feel sorry for myself...I feel that I can do this from time to time, right?!
UGH. Today was one of those days with Oscar where I didn't feel any connection what-so-ever. The dumb ass neighbor with his beagle came out this morning and while Oscar jumped on the fence to peek over, he didn't bark at the guy or his dog (a big YES! in my book). Aaron then left to take him for a walk and as they were going down our driveway, one of our neighbors was passing by and stopped to chat with Aaron. Oscar did well, but for whatever reason he barked and lunged in the lady's direction after they were talking (I wasn't there, so I don't know what the hell happened). Then Oscar had another episode when Aaron was picking up his poop. Aaron's back was to Oscar while he was picking up the poo and during that time, a lady with her two dogs came out of their house and walked directly at Oscar and Aaron. Oscar made his presence known. In my book, this was excusable. Oscar is bred to alert to S.E.C.'s (sudden environmental changes). The good news is that Aaron and Oscar saw the same lady and dogs later in the walk and both of them did fine.
Then there was this evening's extravaganza. The stupid neighbor takes his dog out again and Oscar, jumped on the fence. No barking again (AWESOME!). But then I didn't hold on to him long enough (or simply remove him from the backyard!) and he charged the fence again, jumped on it and barked a few times. This time the stupid neighbor faces his dog and says, "Boss, say "HI!" Boss, say "HI!" Well, then his dog barks and Oscar gets amped up and starts barking at him with a lot more gusto. Yay for that! UGH!
It's embarrassing having a dog that is reactive. Plain and simple. The majority of people out there don't realize the time, effort, patience and perseverance it takes to work with such a dog. All they see is the dog who is barking/lunging/growling. They don't see the dog who is exhibiting self-control in situations that are scary/nerve racking for them. Today was one of those days when I doubted why I even got a second dog in the first place...and, especially, another shepherd. I love the breed, but Jesus, they are a lot of work.
Oscar has pure moments of brilliance at times...and lately they have been far outweighing the butthead moments...but still, today I so desired that I could come home to an EASY dog. A dog that wouldn't have me walking around the backyard or neighborhood with a treat pouch on. A dog that doesn't need to be on anti-anxiety meds. A dog that doesn't need a ridiculous amount of home-cooked food each day. A dog that happily walks over to our fence to greet the neighborhood visitors.
I know I sound incredibly selfish when I type this, but why me? I give so much effort to both of my dogs and admittedly, the majority of that is to Oscar, and I feel like I get nothing in return. I would throw myself in front of a bullet for this dog. Doesn't he know that? The blank looks I got from him today. The inability to hear me when I was talking with him. It's incredibly hurtful to have moments with your dog where there is only one being present. (Here I go again...almost starting to cry!)
Yet I also know this is part of our journey, our dance together. Today was not Oscar's day to shine. I know he was doing the best he could, but what made him feel so unsafe that he had to act that way? I'll never know...I can only look forward and move that next step toward making our life together better. Dwelling on this won't help, but it is incredibly therapeutic to (once and a while) sit alone in the dark and just say, "Why me?"