I was never a dog person growing up. My family always had cats and my two most memorable experiences with dogs were being bitten on the bottom and being chased down the street by our neighbor’s dogs. It’s safe to say I was scared of dogs growing up, mostly because I didn’t understand them.
Four years ago I had a strong desire to start volunteering at a local shelter and overcome my fear of dogs. It took only three shifts for me to to discover the unconditional love dogs have to offer us and how wonderful it is to feel a dog’s head in my lap as they fall asleep. A year later I went to a shelter and picked the saddest, sickest looking pit bull I could find and took her home with me. I named her Didion and thus began my journey of dog ownership, training and the rescue world.
Things were not easy from the beginning. Once Didion began feeling better she became very playful and mouthy. She chewed on things and jumped on everything. She would destroy something every time I used the bathroom or took the trash out. She would play very rough with me and leave me with bruises and scratches. I was actually a little scared of her (ashamed as I am to say that now).
I seriously considered returning her to the shelter and actually took her there with me to meet the behavior consultant. After they told me she would most likely be euthanized if I surrendered her I knew there was no other option. I had to learn how to manage and train my dog! Through a combination of books, the internet, private dog training and training classes I have helped Didion learn how to be a dog and overcome her fear of just about everything in the world. Almost immediately after beginning training with her almost all of her “problem behaviors” disappeared and she and I fell in love. My life will never be the same again and I have Didion to thank for that. She has taught me unconditional love, forgiveness, patience and resilience. It breaks my heart to think I ever considered giving up on my best friend and I want to help other people keep their furry friends in their homes instead of shelters as well.
There are so many amazing dogs, like Didion, in shelters all across the country and a lot of them end up there because of “problem behaviors” that are actually very manageable.
“My dog won’t stop chewing on the furniture.”
“My dog barks too much.”
“My dog can’t walk on a leash so how am I supposed to walk him?”
“My dog jumps on strangers and scares them.”
“My dog has too much energy.”
These are all reasons people surrender their pets to shelters and they are all behaviors I can help with along with many others.
My passion is now helping other people learn how to form a bond with their dogs in order to create an unbreakable relationship that can survive even the most frustrating bad behaviors. A relationship that can be used to understand their dog and why they do what they do. Why they bark, mouth, chew, jump and break house training. If you can understand and communicate with your dog these “problem behaviors” will disappear just as quickly as they appeared.
I currently live in Bellevue, Pittsburgh PA with my husband Sam, two dogs (Didion and Dudley) and two cats (Harper Lee and Truman). I work a full-time job at Carnegie Mellon University and volunteer with a local pit bull rescue organization.