I am often reminded that my animals are amazing in many regards. They are kind, loving, honest, authentic, compassionate, non-judgmental, and most importantly ALWAYS happy to see me! It's like I'm a rock star or something.....
I rescued both my animals - one from the Humane Society and one from a local horse rescue. Neither of which seemed like the best the choice to outside observers. My dog Clyde is a rescued Pit Bull who was 14 months old when I adopted him and had come from an abusive home. I mean a PITT BULL!?!?!? Hello? Seriously? What was I thinking? Well to be honest I had spent a moth researching Pit Bulls daily which included talking with Animal Control officers Insurance agents as well as Humane society Staff AND I read everything that I could find about them before I ever met the first one. I firmly believe in research.
The other was a 17 hand high 13 year old off the track Thorough Bred who had been scheduled to be put down because he was overly aggressive. Oh and he was my first ever horse AND all he knew how to do was go really fast around an oval to the left. Apparently my belief in research was on vacation during this time..... But this is next weeks topic.
When I met Clyde he was totally shut down and afraid of EVERYTHING and I do mean EVERYTHING! He had spent the last year of his life living outside either in the back yard or in a kennel. He had an inch long scar under his chin and tooth mark wounds all over him. He was almost completely shut down, it was like he had completely given up on life. I wanted a black dog that had been in foster care, knew basic commands, crate trained and was house broken. Clyde was none of those things AND he was white! Even though he was the complete opposite of everything I was looking for he was perfect I knew because my heart told me so.
My family, friends and clients ALL thought that I had lost my mind when I adopted Clyde and now they are all head over heels in love with him because he is SUCH a good boy. He has nothing but kisses for those he meets, in fact I'm pretty sure that my clients like him better than they like me. He gets SO excited when my clients arrive for their session - it's like Christmas. I mean every single time they come. Talk about making someone feel welcomed!
Within the first few weeks that we had Clyde we took him out for a walk one night and during the walk he found a reindeer Beanie Baby which he picked up and brought home. It was filthy so I washed it adn gave it back to him. He carried that baby around with him and cared for it by preening it and making sure that it was safe. Remember that we are talking about a Pit Bull here. One night he got up in the middle of the night and left our room, came back and then went out again my husband and I both thought that Clyde had taken one of my slippers or something. In the morning I found him in the living room all snuggled up with his Beanie Baby. That was the moment my husband began to trust Clyde and I think that was the moment he fell in love with Clyde. I fell in love the first moment I met him.
I began a training regime that included lots of love, patience, snuggles, walkies and treats. The end result was a confident (mostly) loving, outgoing dog who loved pretty much everyone. The exception to this day is aggressive dogs. He cowers in fear, hides behind me and immediately lays down to show his submission. It showed me first hand the power of what loving something (or someone) unconditionally and consistently not hitting them will do. They begin to believe that life isn't really all about pain.
It's heart warming what being consistently authentic can do for you. One day one of my clients (she was convinced that I had completely lost my mind when I adopted Clyde) and I were walking in Bridle Trails State Park when we came upon a couple of women on horse back. One of the women began chiding me for having such a viscous animal in public - she had never actually met a Pit Bull in person but was an 'expert' because she had read all the media reports about them. Well my client got down on Clydes level and began loving him up and defending him as if he were her own. She proceeded to tell this woman about all of his many attributes and virtues and all I did was stand there and felt overwhelming gratitude for her and pride for him.
You see all Clyde had done over the years was be himself, a loving, honest, compassionate, authentic being. Yes I have spent many, many hours training him but there's no way to train what's already inside. You can help those around you have more confidence and self esteem and provide an environment to let those personality traits come out. I loved him and believed in him when no one else did, not even my family. Funny how that works.... I wonder what would happen if all of us had someone that believed in us and loved us unconditionally?
I learned from Clyde how very important it is to be consistent, you see when training a dog you have to use the same exact command each and evey time. otherwise they get confused and don't know what you're asking. And dogs are fantastic for teaching humans about boundaries - at least if they are if they don't want the dog ruling the house they get good at boundaries! I have found that dogs really, REALLY want to please their humans and will try as hard as they can to do what you're asking which is why it's so important to be clear with what you're asking.
Clyde has taught me to be clear with what I'm asking, to be clear with what is and what is not acceptable, the true meaning of unconditional love and acceptance, trust what my heart tells me and most importantly the power of unconditional love. He is also the best workout buddy I've ever had! He is ALWAYS ready, willing and able to G-O for a W-A-L-K or a J-O-G even if he's already been on one. I have barely scratched the surface and plan on sharing more lesson I've learned but not today. What have your animals taught you? I would love to hear your stories because stories of love are the best ones to read.
Next week I'll be talking about my horse Theodore James Bear or Teddy for short.
To Your Health, Wellness and Happiness,
Jennifer Malocha CEO of Fun at Wuhoo Fitness