November 27, 2019

Giving Thanks For Challenging Pets

Author: Jennifer Houghton

Despite griping about the weather, the challenges at my day job, and the general obstacles that life throws my way (yeah, I’m talking about you chipped-from-a-rock windshield), I’m extremely fortunate. So, when Thanksgiving rolls around, and we as a country pause to count the blessings of our comfortable lives, I probably name off the same general things everyone else does: family, friends, and the abundances in my life. 

But, I gave it some thought and have to admit that I’m not going to do that this year.  This year, I’m giving thanks for the gift of challenging pets.

Everyone who sees my dog, Ginger, tells me how sweet, cute, well-behaved, or any other variety of complimentary adjectives she is. And the pictures of her on social media are along the same ilk. But, you don’t see the moments that try my patience (of which, I will admit, I have very little to being with):

  • The mornings I’m asking her if it is really necessary at 18 degrees to make this the day she wants to leisurely explore the neighborhood when I don’t have gloves on.
  • The times a noise scares her (and that encompasses a wide variety of things) and she pulls me like a sled dog being chased by a bear back home.
  • Or the times she has panicked over, let’s say a picture in a window that she’s walked past 200 times before without incident, and knocked me off my feet.

I could list another 100 items that drive me insane. Mostly, it’s her fear of other dogs that challenges me. It is those trying days when I don’t know if I can do this any longer; when I tell her half-jokingly that I am going to trade her in for a cat; and when I’m close to tears missing my easy going, no issues, heart-of-my-heart dog that I had before her. I have to take a deep breath and remember what her regular vet told me nearly 7 years ago.

“For the rest of her life, everything will have to be slow with this dog. She loves you and she wants to make you happy. But everything will have to be done slowly.” In essence, let her blossom in her own time. 

And that is a lesson that I need to hear not just at Thanksgiving, but every day. So, in a strange way, she’s like a constant Thanksgiving blessing. 

So, indulge me, if you’ve never had a pet like Miss G. And if you have had one like her, please join me in a moment of gratitude.

Thank you, Ginger, for putting up with my frustrations and never being upset with me for them. Thank you for trying every day to do what I want even though we speak different languages. Thank you for growing and becoming a more well-adjusted dog. Thank you for being so ridiculously cute that you win over other people and dogs. Thank you for reminding me that the trick to all problems is generally patience, effort, sometimes treats, and always love. For every day that I have doubted my ability to be the pet parent you deserve or need, you have interacted with someone who then tells me what a lovely dog you are, what a great dog you are, or how incredibly far you’ve come from the initial days in my home after leaving the fourth shelter in two month’s time. Thank you for being the challenging dog that teaches me what potential my heart has to love, and grow, if I just give it time.

May you have the best Thanksgiving possible and may your floofins bring you the moments of joy that make each day a little bit brighter. 

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