Once upon a time, we had a perfect dog. Well, she was pretty close to perfect. When she died, we grieved that loss for quite some time. Then a couple of years ago, we decided it was time to bring another furry companion into our home. Enter Shep.
We got him from a breeder of mini Australian shepherds, who had received him back, after the first owner decided he would not be suitable to herd goats. So Shep is not quite a rescue, but we’re glad he was rescued from a life with scary farm animals. Whatever happened to him in his first few months of life left him with some critical emotional issues.
I don’t know how far Erik Erikson’s Developmental Stages can be applied to dogs, but the “Trust vs Mistrust” phase was definitely damaged. He was frightened by everything. It has taken a long time to build some trust and help him develop a bit more confidence. We just take it slow and don’t push.
Shep has radically changed our lives. What were we thinking? A sixty-something couple probably shouldn’t get a high-energy Aussie puppy in the first place.
He’s torn up every pillow in the house, but they needed to be replaced anyway. He’s chewed up three pairs of my husband’s glasses. They didn’t need to be replaced. He swallows a certain kind of rocks from the yard, as evidenced by x-rays. Paper is another favorite. (The dog literally ate my homework.) The vet didn’t diagnose him with Pica disorder, but I would. This is not from a lack of toys and chew treats.
I could go on about his challenging behaviors, but I won’t. In spite of all that, he is sweet. He’s funny, smart and willing to learn. And he loves us and seems grateful. Have I considered getting rid of him? Of course, but I know small adjustments are hard for Shep, and a home change would be much harder.
We also feel the commitment we made is important, but it’s not just a grim obligation. He has brought life into our home and so much joy.