We would love to share this blog by a client of our good friends Curtis and Meredith Craig of The Calm K9 in Tennessee. We could not argue the case for balanced dog training any better. Curtis and Meredith changed Leah’s and her dog Bruiser’s life forever. We always tell our clients that nothing can replace strong leadership, rules, boundaries and structure.
I try and stay off of Facebook and Facebook comments, because we all know the consequences…you see a post that upsets you, you comment, WWIII starts, and no one changes their mind. I am pretty good about staying away, but about once a month I see something I just can’t pass. This morning, I’m looking at a picture of a precious dog and then I see it. The comment that I can’t pass. The one that hurts at my very core because it attacks the only thing that has saved my dog’s life.
“That goes to show you that aversive “training” tactics lead to negative behavior and positive training leads to positive behavior!” I crumble. I crumble because I am instantly taken back to what I could only imagine were some of the darkest days for the most precious thing in my world. I think of all the dogs that could lose their lives because of these statements. I think of the 5 years that Bruiser was forced to stay chained, then confined. I go back to seeing him try to attack my husband. I feel all of the feelings of hopelessness that I felt when I was faced with the reality that Bruiser may be too dangerous to ever know love, family, and happiness. I am overwhelmed with guilt for confining him, resentment for those who wronged him, and sorrow for the dog that deserves the world.
I can’t count the amount of tearful phone calls that took place or the amount of people I asked for help. A year later and I can barely remember how many times I kissed his face and told him I was sorry. I don’t know exactly how many people told me to give up or how many professionals told me a dog like him isn’t worth it. What I do remember is the one person that said “I can help you”.
I am not on one side or the other…I am on my dog’s side. I am his advocate, owner, and the first person that ever showed him kindness. I will choose the method that keeps him alive, but even more than that…I will choose the method that keeps him happy. What keeps Bruiser alive, healthy, and happy is a prong collar and balance training. This method reached a dog no one else wanted to touch and the others couldn’t help. This method gave me one of the best dogs I have ever had and gave my dog a chance at life.
The best way I can describe Bruiser today is liberated. He is free to lay with my husband or lay with his brothers and sisters. He is free to go on walks each morning. He is free to be a family dog. Bruiser has been liberated from the abuse, neglect, and solitude he was forced into and he has been given the life that I always hoped and dreamed for, but never believed was possible. Bruiser has been liberated from being euthanized due to aggression. He has been given a new life and I will forever be thankful to those that gave it to him.
Unless you know us personally, you cannot even begin to imagine the pain we went through for over a year or the ridiculous happiness that we are experiencing now. We have so much pride in our boy and in ourselves because we fought for him. We have incredible amounts of gratitude for every single person involved in his life and in his story and when we look at him, our hearts are so filled with joy that tears are impossible to hold back.
This November, he turns 8 years old and we not only celebrate his birthday, but we also celebrate the day I officially made him mine. He is my favorite story and he is one of the most beautiful examples of redemption, liberation, and education.
Bruiser completed 8 weeks of intensive training at The Calm K9. He was our family’s 4th dog to send to the Craig’s and he now lives in complete harmony with his 4 siblings and human mom and dad. He is a registered service dog and travels with us as much as possible.