In the beginning of 2018, I adopted a rescue dog named Mumbai from the wonderful Street Tails Animal Rescue. I really had no idea what the future would hold. Unfortunately, many dogs with behavioral issues are either abused or sent back to shelters because people don’t know how to correct a dogs negative reaction to inside and outside triggers with positive reinforcement. Thankfully my vet, Dr. Cohn from Fishtown Animal Hospital, assured me that whatever Mumbai was going through could and would change if I made the correct training decisions. I didn’t believe her at the time. I had my doubts and knew it would take a ton of patience and dedication to train him. I Googled, “How to train a Terrier?” The first thing that popped up was “Terror Terrier!”. I cried. But I couldn’t and wouldn’t give up. Although, the constant whining, barking, and sometimes biting made me feel worried, sleepless, and insane. My Mother would call and hear everything in the background. She’d say, “Are you sure this was a good decision?!” I definitely doubted myself. Especially since my neighbors could hear him bark. I really didn’t think apology cards and bottles of wine was enough for them. But really….when somebody has a baby and it’s constantly crying do people ask them if it was a good decision? Do the parents who live above me with the crying kid that hammers the floor care about the person living below them? Na. I compare myself with breeders(not dog breeders) only because I’m 40 years old and never felt like I needed to marry and have kids. I love kids, don’t get me wrong! I have amazing nieces and nephews. And many of my friends have fabulous kids. But what I’m REALLY hinting at is….where was my “new dog” shower? That would’ve been nice. (Laughing)
For five months I tried an Adaptil collar, Adaptil plug-ins, NutriCalm pills, calming soft chews, Rescue Remedy, Pet Calm, a Thundershirt, CBD oil, and Mumbai had a professional dog trainer from Philly Unleashed. Her name was Kelsey, and she did a fabulous job helping us understand clicker training. My friends who walk ACCT dogs, Millie and Anne(also ceramicists), gave me a ton of emotional support and training hints. It was nice knowing that friends understood what I was going through, and they tried to put me at ease reassuring things would change for the better. I also had friends come over and practice knocking on the door so he would welcome them in a calm manner. He still has his moments, but the daily dose of CBD oil, time, and socializing with many walks has helped with his anxiety. Now I look at that adorable face and have already forgotten how horrible his behavior was(Not really). And I’m writing about this because I lost many days and evenings in the art studio. For reasons that were truly worth it. In addition to my ceramic sculpture, my goal for the future is to start training dogs with or without behavioral problems. I’ve learned so much and I want to continue training other dogs and their owners. I love all animals and have always had them in my life. They complete me.
I’m making new work for POST Open Studio Tours at 1241 Carpenter Street Studios. So stay tuned!