On Relationships: not my best friend.

I have grown a number of really important relationships recently. After I became more myself, I began to take stock of my life and the relationships in it. I found new passions, I met new people, and I realized the importance of old people. Key people. I have been working on these relationships and have been blessedly successful.

That written, I do have a terrible plague of a relationship in my house.

My dog and I are not friends. We co-exist. She doesn’t listen to me and I tend to resent her.

When we brought her home, The Hellhound was my pup. She tailed me, wanted my cuddles and love, and wanted to please me. Not too long after that, as she grew into canine adolescence, she shifted her affections to my husband. That’s okay, he’s a pretty special person and I can see where she’s coming from. He also has a notoriously great relationship with dogs (German Shepherds, specifically). I didn’t resent that.

Bitter sweetly, The Hellhound is an exceptionally intelligent animal. She’s a pure bred German Shepherd from working lines with schutzhund champion blood. Even in her personality, she’s a working dog, not (ever) a family/lap dog.

Our problem, The Hellhound and I, is that she needs to be working and I don’t give her jobs. (I should note that no one does. We made promises of greatness, but after initial obedience and tracking training, we fell off the bandwagon. Hard. So while this is a group failure, I’m not going to speak for anyone else. And truth be told, Husband still has a good relationship with her. She still listens to him. …because she’s an asshole.)

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed this, but it is the first time I’ve had a different schedule that may allow for some training/re-training and relationship re-booting, and it’s the first time that I’ve been really motivated to give this a(nother) go.

So.

I’m going to try to rebuild my relationship with my dog. I’m not sure what that’s going to look like just yet, not wholly, but I am enjoying the insights I’m reading in The Dog Listener (Fennell)*. This book, more of less, describes some of the psychology of dogs (especially as it pertains to their feral wolf counterparts and their group dynamics) and how that ought to fit into our (human) lives. That is, we (again, humans) may want to stop trying to humanize dogs. They just don’t work the way we do. They have a different structure, different priorities, and a different way of communicating. I think, once I get a handle on some of that, things might start to go better.

Along with that, we’re working on walking/hiking regularly. My dog needs more exercise (and so do I). I would also like to work in some agility, as she really dug that in obedience classes and it would help to work her brain as well as her body. With that, she’s a great swimmer, enjoys the water, and also needs to think hard when she’s neck deep in, so I’d like to bring her to rivers and lakes (of which we have many in my area). I am also planning to get back into tracking, another brain and body work out (which, just like my toddler, is the most tired-making option). Shit, she might even make a liar out of me and inspire me to start running.

What I need is twofold: a) encouragement, support and to be kept honest – help keep me on track, please. And b) help. I need ideas. I need ideas for jobs, for exercise, for ways to bond with her and gain her trust and affection back. I want this to work. She’s a beautiful, motivated, intelligent creature and I don’t want to keep letting her down. And, let’s face it, it’s going to help me to be a better me. This is a great relationship to build and maintain, I need the exercise as well, and it’s great for my brain, too.

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Queen – You’re My Best Friend

UNT.

*I’m a fucking hippy in my advance age. Good grief.

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5 thoughts on “On Relationships: not my best friend.

  1. Laura Matheson says:

    You’re on the right path; I think it’s a respect thing, not a “like/love thing.” You know she’s not a typical “family” dog, and her needs/wants are pretty different than the proverbial retriever next door. Maybe start with something like daily exercise-you’ll get in your steps, and she’ll lose some pent-up energy. It needs to work for both of you to be sustainable, and that’s part of the key: lasting change. I really admire that in the midst of looking after wee ones (and dare I say a “bigg’un”?), and trying to take scraps of time for yourself, that you are working to mend a relationship of the canine persuasion. “Hats off” and leash on…then off:-)

    • Hah! All of this, thank you. I’m hoping. We’ve been pretty consistent with the walking, which has been great for everyone. And there’s been some research into brain games for inside/yard time, which is also great. She’s actually been pretty brilliant on walks lately, really well behaved. That’s lovely. Still not listening, but we’ll get there. (There’s just not enough time in a day. Ugh.)

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