I have met a lot of dogs during my time working at a doggie daycare and boarding facility. While there have been some dogs that definitely test the last of my patience, I still love them. There is one particular pup, a chocolate lab (I’ll call her Cocoa Loco) that makes many of us release a deep sigh when we see her parents’ car pull up. She is a good girl at heart, she’s just young, defiant, rebellious, and has the worst case of selective hearing I’ve come across yet. But I still love her. Even when I have to say, for the 20th time that hour, “Cocoa Loco, leave it!” and she just runs away with that rock or chunk of wood in her mouth like it’s all a game, she is lovely.
Dogs are incredibly sensitive and intelligent animals. Studies have shown that they have the mental abilities of a two year old child. As a caretaker, it is my responsibility to keep this at the forefront of my mind, especially when losing patience with one of my dogs. My trick is to just take a moment to detach myself from the feelings of irritation that go along with Cocoa’s problem behavior and just look at her eyes. I think dogs have wonderfully emotional eyes. They are indeed a window into their souls. I can do this with dogs who know and trust me, because looking a dog directly into their eyes can also translate to a threat in Doggo Language. But with Cocoa Loco, this loving peek into her beautiful amber eyes reminds me that there is a wonderful dog behind them. She loves her family, she has placed her trust in me to keep her safe while she’s away from them. She wants to have fun, to play and be accepted. She wants to avoid pain. She deserves compassion. They all do.
The next time your pup pees on the rug, chews up your underwear, or seems not to listen during training, take a moment to look at those beautiful eyes of theirs. They are not a lost cause. Seek training, earn each other’s respect, and you can build one of the strongest relationships to another living being you could ever imagine.