Achieving Balance and Harmony

COMMUNITY

Sara Jane Brown

Cesar,

This is a success story in the making. I am 26 years old, a registered nurse in a critical care unit, and I have two dogs: Lucy, a one year old black and tan coonhound, and Sonja, a black lab who is 8 months old. Lucy was the first, and I realized a long time ago that I made some mistakes with her in the beginning - I had always started with affection (not hard with a little long eared hound puppy!). As a result, Lucy acts like a spoiled brat in some situations, and she picked on Sonja quite a bit when Sonja was very small. We are seeing some jealousy/aggression from the younger one now that she is as strong as the older one and able to challenge her. But, I remain vigilant - addressing every bad behavior - and I'm getting pretty good at recognizing the instant Sonja becomes tense (before she shows teeth or growls). I also changed my relationship with Lucy, and now she doesn't get away with anything. She is much less anxious and a happier dog as the result of exercise, discipline, and THEN affection. I always have the attitude that I am the one in control, and I am sure if I remain consistent that my dogs will achieve better balance with both their maturity and mine. I have lived with dogs most of my life, but these are the first ones I have raised, each since 7-8 weeks old. People are always commenting on how well behaved my dogs are, and ask me what kinds of classes they have had. I tell them: no classes, just the Dog Whisperer.

Cesar, I bring my dogs everywhere. They have been to several parties at other people's houses, camping, hiking, pet stores, and basically anywhere they are allowed. My dogs stay in the back seat of a car and sit calmly or sleep on a 3 hour drive with pit stops, and do not bark if we leave them alone in there. They do not jump on or mouth people. They are respectful of doors. They get along with other dogs of similar size. We are working on several issues, and I have not yet fully mastered the walk, but each time I think to myself: this will be the time. And I never give up!

Beyond the dogs, I have become a much better nurse since I began to practice calm assertive behavior. I am now one of the nurses on my unit that many look to in times of crisis, which can happen often in critical care. My dogs and I thank you for teaching us how to create balance in our home, and I thank you on behalf of the patients who benefit from a pack of calm assertive nurses. Also, how true that you get the dog you need, not the dog you want! I have inherited high cholesterol, and Lucy, as a coonhound, required much more exercise than I was used to getting. But I knew this when I chose her, and in fulfilling her needs with exercise first, I have become much healthier. Next, I will get a Swiss Mountain dog, train him to pull a cart and learn to farm and raise some livestock. I know I can accomplish it because of what I have learned from you. I love all animals, but DOGS ARE AWESOME AND SO ARE YOU! Thanks again, Sara Jane Brown, RN BSN BSE

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