Tootsie Turns Two

We’re celebrating Tootsie’s second birthday today. The exact date is unknown. I went with the 9th because the shelter said her monthly flea pill was due on the 9th–a few days after I got her home–and June since she was eight weeks old.

We’ve had our challenges. Several months of one-on-one training helped. The trainer said Tootsie is super smart and, consequently, easily overwhelmed. Forcing her to go for walks made things worse. Everything freaked her out.

According to the trainer, the fear was just a phase that would hopefully pass at around 18 months old. Or not. When it didn’t, I though she’d stay fearful.

Instead of walks, we play in the yard for 15-30 minutes once or twice a day. Playing too much is not possible. All the livelong day, she brings me a toy to kick or throw and quickly brings it back for another turn.

Ignoring her makes things worse. She whines, raises all kinds of hell, and either pokes the toy to show me where it is or pushes it closer. Going all crotchety on her doesn’t help.

Then, she changed. We’ve always had good and bad days. Took a while to notice we’d had a record-breaking streak of good days.

We started going on walks again several weeks ago. She hides in her kennel when she hears me say “walk,” so I have to trick her into going. Once we’re out the door, she’s fine. Garbage trucks, weed eaters, and other loud stuff still freaks her out, but she’s much calmer and far less likely to react to passersby or kids playing.

She’s also figured out that patiently waiting for me to throw her ball gets better results than whining. When I don’t want to play, she’s happy in my lap, on my chest, or nestled up as close to me as she can get.

Truth be told, Tootsie is more dog than I wanted. Had I known how much work she would be and how long it would take for her to settle down, I would have kept looking.

Good thing I didn’t know. Despite the challenges, Tootsie is exactly the dog I need. All she really wants is my attention. Constantly. Her persistence sometimes gets on my nerves, but I’d be lost without her.

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