Teddy’s Story

Some of you may be wondering why Teddy doesn’t join me for more of these hikes – he LOVES the mountains and is a far better hiker than I will ever be – but unfortunately, he doesn’t love people so much.

When I first adopted Teddy 5 years ago, I had all kinds of expectations of how our life together would go and the dog Teddy would be – hiking partner, running partner, and all around partner-in-crime for everywhere I would go, and everyone I would see. And that’s largely how life went with Teddy for the first six months – I took him everywhere, and he loved every person he met during that time (and still does to this day).

But slowly as Teddy settled into life and established that I was his mama bear, he started to show signs of anxiety and reactive behavior – first with children, and then increasingly with any new person he met. I was in total denial for another six months – oh, he just doesn’t like children – oh, he doesn’t like that person because they’re not a “dog” person. I would find any excuse, because I didn’t want to face the reality that he wasn’t the “perfect” dog. And so I kept forcing him into situations that he was increasingly uncomfortable with – which was completely unfair to Teddy, who so desperately wanted to be a good boy.

Things got worse, and eventually I couldn’t deny it anymore – Teddy needed my help. So, I found the best local behaviorist there was, and worked with her to better understand what was going on with my pup and how to manage it. What I quickly realized was that it was more about training me than anything, and she quickly taught me my most important lesson:

Your dog is a living being just like you – with all the fears, emotions, and traumatic crap that you carry around – and he will never be your “perfect” dog, so YOU have to manage your own expectations and the situations you put him in.

It was a tough pill to swallow, but once I did, things got infinitely better for Teddy.

Flash forward to today, and life is far different for Teddy. We leave him at home when we go to large gatherings, we board him when we host parties or go out of town, and he hikes with me only on trails that I know will be sparsely populated.

Sometimes I wish I could talk to Teddy and know what happened to him in the first year of his life before he came into mine – but I suppose it doesn’t really matter. Because giving up on him was never an option, just as those who love me never give up on me – despite all my fears, emotions, and ALL the traumatic crap I carry with me.

Because – to me, at least – he is perfect.

Happy 5-year “Gotcha Day,” pal.

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