Pack Origins – Zoey

I’ve always liked dogs, even after being attacked and bitten by a stray in the 8th grade. However I never became a dog lover or “fanatic” (as some have called me) until my freshman year in college, not exactly the “correct” time in life to get a dog. A friend of mine had gotten a puppy and due to certain circumstances I ended up taking care of the 12 week old pup. A month later he was back to his owner and I was left desperately wanting a dog however nowhere near ready to own one just yet.

The next 5 months were spent researching everything dog related, breeds, temperaments, training, grooming, basically everything under the sun. By August of 2012, despite being told I’d be “disowned” if I came home with a dog, I was ready for a K9 companion. August 18th was spent in 7 different shelters/rescues however I didn’t come home with a dog. The following day, at the first shelter I stopped at, I met Zoey, a underweight, sick, 1 year old German Pinscher. I didn’t bother to look through the rest of the shelter dogs, I took her papers to the front desk and Zoey became the first member of what I thought would forever be a pack of 2, Zoey and myself.

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The next year was spent mastering the craft of what I call dog partnership. Nowadays everyone is big on being the Alpha and making sure your dog knows you are the “dominant one”. Quite honestly, there are few beings with hearts more pure than those of dogs and because of that I didn’t want to be Zoey’s “leader” or use the Dog Whisperer training techniques that were constantly on TV. I worked on being equal with Zoey; instead of sitting on the couch above her, either she’d sit up there with me or I’d lay on the floor with her, she’d sleep with me in bed, and on walks, if she wanted to roam she could, unless we were in high traffic areas. I saw Zoey as an equal and in return she listened to me whenever I would ask her to do something because she fully trusted me. Currently Zoey can: sit, shake, stay, watch me, lay down, leave it, drop it, high five, roll over, and speak. On top of that she is fully trustworthy off-leash, regardless of what’s around her. Just last night she saw a cat and started to chase after it (her breed was made to hunt small animals off farms), however after just one “Zoey, leave it.” she pumped the brakes and trotted back towards me, probably thinking “you know, had you let me chase that cat I would have caught it”. She has become the benchmark for each addition to the pack, we now try to replicate how we train our new dogs with the same style and techniques we used to train Zoey.

With how successfully Zoey was added to the family it was only a matter of time before we would want to add a second, but that is a story for my next post.

Till next time, keep them tails wagging.

 

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