In our house we don’t celebrate birthdays. That’s because I don’t know when my dogs were born. Instead, we celebrate a far more important day: the “gotcha day,” when that dog officially adopted me and I signed the papers promising to be their Forever home.
Four years ago today I officially adopted Layla.
I never would have guessed what a wild ride she was going to take me on!
In that time we’ve dabbled in agility, weight pull, rally obedience, CFF freestyle, and disc sports. Now we’re also learning competition obedience together – I make more mistakes than she does by far! She has earned her level one and two titles in APDT rally and has her first Q towards a level three title. We have several agility Qs, but a bad back has limited her ability to do the active dog sports. Our level 2 freestyle routine is to a piece from Riverdance, and she looks like she’s trotting to the beat.
When I use her as a demo dog for Beginning Obedience or Puppy Kindergarten orientation, someone invariably comments “she’s so calm!” (and is confused when I laugh).
She has inspired me to bring the Control Unleashed program to the Rochester area, and taught me to trust in my dog and the relationship we’ve built up together. I’ve learned to trust her off-leash and she’s learned that she can’t kill and eat every small furry thing she sees. We’ve worked on her prey drive using nothing but Premack, despite the fact that so many people claimed only a shock collar could stop a truly predatory dog.
She’s gone from a dog who was on some days nearly impossible to live with – always busy, always pacing, anxious, obsessive – to the perfect house dog. She sleeps under the covers at night and is calm and relaxed during the day. She delights at getting Duke in trouble and loves to roll blissfully in the smell after we spray Febreeze on the furniture. She’s an incorrigible chapstick thief. This winter we’ve played “find the squeaky ball” approximately 3,912 times when it was too cold for enough exercise outside.
Happy “Gotcha Day” Layla!