Uh, yea. What she said.
I have long annoyed family and friends with my tendency to relate everything about parenting to raising and training dogs. Raising and training dogs used to be something I was fairly good at -- not great but fairly good. My dogs were dogs you could live with. I had some learning dogs (no doubt!) but once I figured out what I wanted in a dog I did a good job teaching my dogs to do what I wanted.
My mother-in-law annoyed the hell out of me when she told a pregnant me that I wouldn't have time for the dogs when I had kids. Not have time for them? Ha! How could that be. I was working three jobs, raising 7 dogs, going to dog shows, and having the occasional litter of puppies. I did crafts, was active on several mailing lists, and had a small business website about dogs. Puhlease. I can handle a child on top of all that.
Or not. Today, I have one job, am going to school, have two great kids, a good marriage (leaving out the fight we had this morning), a filthy house, and am a terrible dog mama. Terrible!
And, I watch The Dog Whisperer. And, I feel guilty. I KNOW his stuff works because enough of it is stuff that I used to know to do that I can tell that ALL of it works. Now, please don't think that I was a Dog Whisperer Before The Dog Whisperer -- far from it. I could train my dogs for me to live with them but they all had serious flaws that made it difficult for anyone else to live with them. Flaws I allowed because they didn't bother me that much. I also lost my temper with my dogs a lot. Not good. Calm assertive energy is Cesar's main message. I'm rarely calm or assertive.
Dooce, in the article linked above, talks about her post-partum depression days and what a terrible dog mama she was. Well, I can relate. Most of the terribleness of my terrible dog mama stuff now goes back to my own bout with depression. Following 9/11, we had moved into a new house. I had no job. No close by friends. My husband left the house at 6am and came home at around 9pm most days. The kids were small and demanding. I was totally overwhelmed and totally unprepared for it.
The scariest day of my life was when I was starting to come out of it and told my sister and sister-in-law that they didn't need to worry anymore because I was getting help and getting better and they looked at each other and looked at me and said, "We didn't know there was anything wrong." I thought they were my lifelines who were getting ready to intervene and they hadn't noticed anything was wrong. OH CRAP!
So, something had to give and it was, sadly, the dogs. I hate it but they are more forgiving than small children.
But, I'm watching the Dog Whisperer and learning and changing. My beautiful old girl, Rosie, is doing great. I still know that I must find a new home for Gander. He's wonderful but he's not the right dog for us and he deserves better.
Anyone want a wonderful but untrained black lab who has the occasional epileptic seizure and needs lots of calm, assertive energy in his leader?
For now, I'm putting the Cesear Milan lessons to work in the rest of my life. As Dooce points out, calm assertive energy helps YOU too. It helps my kids. It helps my students. And, boy, would it have helped me this morning to avoid a fight with my husband.