But for the Grace of Dog

Monday, 21 January 2013 | Tags: , , , , , ,

I think my dog hates me. Well maybe not hate, but I'm developing a complex that she thinks I'm the least interesting person in her life. Do parents of human babies ever go through this?

When I adopted Lola the German shepherd at 12 weeks old, I did a lot of research on how to get along with my new best friend. Time and again I was told of the importance of exposing her to lots of different situations, other dogs, and people. And it quickly became clear that a well-trained dog, with structure and boundaries, is a happy dog.  Especially an uber-smart pooch like Ms. Lola.  
So I enrolled in training classes and my approach has been, I believe, loving but strict.  I also found the World’s Best Trainer to take her when I have to travel (which is quite a bit), plus I use a dog walking service during the week for those midday walks, and take her out and about with me as much as possible.
Part of what made me want a dog in the first place is I was also told that this dog will love me like no human could.  Complete, unconditional and utter devotion would be given to whomever is her master.  Shepherds in particular are known for their loyalty.  And for awhile, that’s what it felt like.

 Lola – all ears
But now, at 1-and-a-half years of age, I feel like Lola is a surly teenager about to skip town on the next Greyhound (dog, not bus), without a thanks or a high-five.  Is this what my parents felt like when I left for university?  
In the beginning, Lola followed me everywhere.  She sat at my feet while I worked, got in my way in the kitchen, and scratched at the door when I bathed.  She cried at night from her crate.  As I type this, I have no idea where in the house she is.
I was away for three days last week and after she was dropped off by the World’s Best Trainer, she seemed depressed.  Where was that sweet girl who jumped all over me and needed extra love when she came home??  
I heard she has a new boyfriend at the World’s Best Trainer’s place.  Boy crazy.  That could explain the depression.  And when I had friends over for cocktails recently, it wasn’t me she wanted attention from but rather everyone else!  Did I do too good a job at teaching her to accept others?  She may look intimidating, but she’ll gladly go with whomever wants to take her.

We’re working on going for off-leash walks and while she is getting the hang of it, she also insists on walking a few feet in front of me. And she knows “heel” very well.  Reminds me of me when I was 16.  Has she forgotten where her kibble comes from?

Lola at the beach
Anyone who reads my blog may remember when I first got Lola, I had a very tough time. She’s my first dog, and while I thought I was prepared for what lay ahead, I really had no clue what I was in for.  
She chewed up an entire room and some Dolce & Gabana shoes, she didn’t seem to like other dogs, she didn’t do exactly what I told her, every type of food seemed to give her diarrhea, and she upset my entire life! It’s true, I almost sent her back.  
I know all you parents are laughing at me right now.  But we made it through, and now she is the brightest light in my life. I absolutely cannot imagine it without her and I miss her terribly when I’m away. Yes, I’ve become one of those dog people.  I even had a party for her first birthday.  
And now I worry that I love her more then she loves me.
This parenting thing sure is hard.  Especially these teenaged years.  Will that big love ever come back?  Or, horrors, is this a reflection of my own personality?  
Right now, I’m living for looks like these…
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  • TLisa

    She is beautiful! I am also a first time dog owner. My girl Abby is now just over 2 years old and STILL a handful! I also had a first birthday for her, complete with a wheat free carrot cake for her. Spoiled!

    Do you travel a lot? Maybe she has some separation anxiety? Whenever I am away from my dog for even a night, I get the cold shoulder for a little bit after I am back.

    • Anna Wallner

      Hi TLisa, you are probably right. I am away frequently so I’m sure her behaviour is due in part to my absence. Thanks for reading & commenting!

  • Marina

    I’m a long time German Shepherd owner, on my third one, and each one has been so different. Our current dog, Kaylee we got when she was just over a year old (all our dogs have been rescues) and she is the only one who has ever given me attitude. Seriously, I swear she rolls her eyes at me when I tell her to do something.
    Lola could be responding to not being part of a pack anymore. If she spent the whole time you were away with other dogs, or just one dog she finds extra special, she probably misses being a part of the pack that was created. Dogs are, after all, meant to be part of a pack, and most thrive in that situation. She might be missing her canine family a bit. When we go camping with a family who has a golden retriever, who is Kaylee’s best friend, she goes through a slump when we get home.
    We are also loving but strict, and she responds well to that and is a very happy dog. BUT, give her a week alone with my husband, who is more loving than strict, and I really notice a difference in her behaviour towards me. It is almost like she is saying “Oh GOD, you again with all the rules and regulations. Meh.” She is two now and I have noticed a drastic difference in her activity level, and I have read that around two dogs tend to chill out a bit. Maybe the trainer she is with is just a little more lax than you in certain ways and she needs a few days to get back in to the swing of things.

    • Anna Wallner

      Sounds like you’ve got quite a character in Kaylee, Marina! Thanks for sharing your experiences. Glad to hear I’m not the only one experiencing a bit of attitude!

  • Trevor Howes

    Anna! By the looks of it, you’ve done a wonderful job raising Lola. I guarantee she adores you more than anything else in the world. She’s growing up and becoming more confident and comfortable with her new friends. (Wow, is there a lot to discover out there!) Keep on doing what you’re doing. Sounds like you both love each other unconditionally . . . what an amazing thing! Thanks for sharing your story.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sylvia.schaffler.71 Sylvia Schaffler

    A very smart and beautiful girl…I have a shepherd X who did the same thing when I was away and she did grow out of it as she got older. She will eventually become used to your routine. Lots a lovin’ is the key!

  • ronny

    I can tell you care so much for Lola, I can sympathize with you I have a Pekingese and believe it or not her name is Lola. I am sure dogs are like children and their feelings can be hurt if we are away from them. Just from your pictures I can tell that your Lola is very well taken care of and content. You will see down the road that the time you are investing in Lola will pay off down the road and she will be a good friend when you need one. The world needs more good pet owners like you Anna.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tracey.murphy.7528 Tracey Murphy

    Trust me she knows who mom is! I had a little yorkie with the same temperament, who seemed to love my mother more than me! Of course, I’m the one who took her to the vet, the groomer, obedience classes; my mom took her only to fun places and stuffed her silly with treats! But when the chips were down, when she was sick or scared, it was me she looked for, me she cuddled up to. Shes’s been gone for three years now and I still miss her. Be glad you don’t have an aggressive dog you can’t take anywhere, or who pines herself sick when you’re gone! And as she ages you’ll grow together like no other companion you’ll ever have!

    • annaandkristina

      Thanks for the tips, Tracey!