Dogs, dogs, dogs…it seems like dogs are the only things I talk about these days! But, in my eyes, better than talking about other people, especially negatively.
My facisnation for these creatures grow, as I continue to immerse my life in dogs to the fullest degree.
Life at Boulder’s Camp Bow Wow has been semi-chaotic, as I often forget that just like every other institution, or business, there are aspects to the job that are completely dysfunctional. Unfortunately, the chaos behind closed doors has begun seeping into the dog yards, creating even more chaos and dysfunction than usual.
The chaos, stress, emotions, anger, frustration, etc., have been picked up by the 130+ dogs that our company takes care of. Dogs are very sensitive creatures and smarter than they appear, and they continue to amaze me, by showing me time-and-time again how sensitive and delicate they are.
As a result of this tension and semi-chaotic time, the dogs, who rely on us humans to provide them love, happiness, and health, are finding themselves lost in the chaos, stress, anxiety, anger, etc., and reacting to our lack of presence, both mentally, physically, and emotionally, in the dog yard, by falling into aggressive, chaotic, and stressed out behaviors, as a result of our mood. Our moods, energy and intentions all carry over into the dog yards, and the dogs are the ones that can sense it the most.
While I take pride in being present and mindful when I am on the clock, I have found myself distracted, stressed, frustrated, and vulnerable in the dog yards, rather than excited, calm, patient, and loving. Instead of leaving the baggage at the door, I have allowed it to affect my work and my job duties, as this job truly requires individuals to be present, to be aware, and to be mindful. Laziness is just not an option in this job!
Many dog fights have occurred, especially more frequently during this time of change and chaos, and a handful of these altercations have occurred in my own dog yards. While many of the fights were easily broken up, with little injuries, I recently experienced a semi-severe dog fight, which resulted in a dog bleeding from the injuries of the dog fight.
These incidents do not feel good, as controlling your dog yards is the main duty that my job requires. Similarly, dogs, just like humans, do not like fighting each other, or getting in altercations. In addition, being apart of a dog fight can truly traumatize a dog, resulting in behavioral changes in even the most friendliest of dogs.
This last week one of my favorite dogs, Nitro, was attacked by a much larger dog, who often struggled with engaging in aggressive behavior at day care. While Lilu, the other dog, is not really a bad or aggressive dog in general, day care for many, if not all these dogs, is extremely stressful. When dogs are thrown into very stressful and very stimulated situations, their reactions truly differ and it is truly difficult to predict when a dog may snap.
Nitro is one of our best dogs (at least, he is in my mind). In addition, Nitro is one of the only dogs that truly loves doggy day care, does not engage in any aggressive behavior, plays extremely well with other dogs, brings an amazing energy to day care, and gets along with a variety of dogs. He is one of the sweetest dogs to both humans and to dogs! Nitro is just one of those dogs that you WANT in your dog yard, as he does not do any wrong. This dog fight came from nowhere, and left Nitro very shaken, as I was informed that post-fight he was shaking.
The day after the dog fight, Nitro attended daycare, and while I did notice some very subtle behavioral changes, I did not think much of it. As the day began to progress and the dog yards slowly began to grow in number, I slowly began witnessing Nitro engaging in protective and semi-aggressive behavior when other dogs got too close to him, or acted too abruptly around him. Nitro never barked at other dogs and Nitro also never isolated himself from the other dogs in the dog yard. All these small behavioral changes became more exasperated with the growing number of dogs in my dog yard. These behavioral changes are reactions that Nitro naturally developed after experiencing a traumatic event with another dog, and it was made very clear to me that Nitro seriously needed some love on Friday and some extra attention. A dog that was once carefree, worry-free, so friendly, and full of love, fun, and charismatic energy now has become a guarded, full of worries, and is now very easily triggered by other dogs that may get too close to him, or behave in any ways that he associates with the dog fight. I almost did not recognize the dog that was in my dog yard on Friday, as it was very evident that this dog fight truly took a toll on him.
These last few shifts at work have truly been eye-opening for me, as I truly realize the damage that can unfold before my eyes if I am not present, in a good mindset, and ready to love all 130+ dogs that I am responsible of taking care of. My bad attitude, my lack of patience, my inability to bring a good energy into the yards, and my ability to show compassion, love, etc., puts the lives, as well as the livelihood of these precious dogs, in jeopardy, which is not what my job duties ask me to do. Similarly, it is extremely important that when I am in one of our six dog yards that I continue to utilize my knowledge of the dogs in my dog yard, and the dogs in the other dog yards, to make calculated and smart decisions about trading dogs from other dog yards, knowing when to put a dog in time-out, etc., in order to keep my dog yard calm, cool, collected, happy, and healthy.
One aspect about this job that I often forget is the general importance of truly getting to know all the dogs that come into our daycare. I definitely know about 400+ dogs in around the Boulder County area, however, I have formed strong relationships with only about a quarter of the dogs that attend our daycare. While I may have general knowledge about the other dogs, I have yet to form a true relationship, based on trust, time spent together, and comfortability, with every single dog that attends our daycare. I would idealistically love to have a strong, unique, and inpenetrable relationship with every single dog that has ever attended Camp Bow Wow Boulder EVER. That would be incredible!
While I am still working on getting to know every single four-legged freak, the number of strong, unique bonds with the dogs of Camp Bow Wow Boulder has only increased with every month that I continue to work there. Sometimes, you do not even realize how excited some dogs get to see you. Sometimes, you may even wonder why a dog even gets that excited to see you, because you did not think, or even recall, becoming friends with particular dogs.
These last few shifts I have also found myself spending an excessive amount of time with the smaller dogs that attend our doggy day care. While the majority of my time spent at work I am interacting and taking care of the needs of the bigger dogs, I have found myself spending more time with them than usual, both because I did not have a choice and because I wanted to. Many of the big dogs that attend daycare are there for reasons, such as to be socialized, to get exercise, or to have an outlet to get their energy out. The small dogs that attend daycare are generally there to be coddled, loved, and spoiled, as many of the smaller dogs are definitively companion dogs that are meant to be cuddled with. It is important to spend time with these dogs, as I find that loving them, showing them affection, and suffocating them with love is extremely therapeutic. Instead of spending time worrying about whether or not a dog is going to end up hurting another dog, or if two dogs are playing too aggressively, you are able to focus completely on giving love and affection with the small dogs. While the small dog yard can be extremely overwhelming, with 30+ dogs trying to climb into your lap to receive love, attention, and pets, these dogs are some of the easiest dogs to make connections with. I am so estatic about my new relationships and friendships with some of these smaller dogs, and genuinely enjoy spending time in the small dog yard, as the small dogs love to give and receive love, creating a loving and caring energy that continues to encompass the small dogs. Their needs are quite simple and you could end up with multiple companions just after 10 minutes of hanging around the small dog yard. While many people do not enjoy the company of small dogs, their existence and their company is so important and vital to this world. You can never ignore small dogs, because they exist and they will bark at you until you willingly, or unwillingly, acknowledge their presence. Their huge personalities and their loud barks make up for their small bodies!
Despite the chaos that is occuring outside of the dog yards, the dogs continue to remind me that they may just very well be the only good things left in this world. The other day I found myself gazing into the eyes of a dog, reaffirming how special they were and that they were the only “good” left in this universe.
While I cannot say the same for human beings, I know for a fact that I never have to doubt a dog, as I have found myself struggling to be patient with some individuals in my life. In addition, while human beings lack consistency with their behavior, emotions, personality, and life, dogs are the definition of consistent and continue to restore faith in me that though human beings are far from consistent that they are not ALL BAD. I crave the consistency that dogs display in my life, in fact, consistency is something that every human beings deserves to experience at least once in their lives. Beyond this, the dogs have inspired me to display more consistency within my life and have learned to begin teaching me how important and beneficial consistency is! I have always been an inconsistent person, and while I am still far from perfect, I have learned that dogs, as well as people and myself, enjoy consistency, as consistency makes it easier for people, dogs, and yourself to trust yourself, for people, dogs, and yourself, to rely on yourself, and for people, dogs, and yourself to enjoy your presence and love your presence. Similarly, consistency is a quality that can bring one lots of happiness, love, and success.
These dogs consistency remind me to smile often and that you should always be proud to show off your tongue! Suns out, tongues out!
We all have flaws, or bad weeks, or bad days, or bad moods, or bad SOMETHINGS, and this is okay and simply only naturally. Humans were created to be flawed and to make mistakes. These mistakes, or flaws, that we exhibit while only natural, are the things that create chaos, unhappiness, and inconsistency within our behavior, and we should try to help ourselves out as much as possible. I strive to grow, expand, and learn every day in life, even when things are embarrassing, difficult, tough, stressful, smooth, good, or bad. There are always things that I can improve on, in order to be the best possible version of myself and live my best life. Working on things, recognizing things, becoming aware of things, learning to navigate through your flaws, and legitimately working on these flaws, behaviors, etc. that are ugly, is much easier said than done. Learn to be patient with your personal growth and realize that NO ONE, including your idol or the prettiest girl that you know, is perfect, or even close to being perfect.
Understand that even though you may actively be engaging in self-growth and improving yourself that not every day is going to bring the results that you may be hoping for, and that even in these moments, you can very well find yourself engaging in these flawed behaviors, or you may find yourself frustrated that these changes that you have made may not have produced results that are particularly noticeable, or even produced results that you are proud of.
Be kind, expect little, but reward often!