A Million Dreams…

I fell in love with his drippy eyes…

Rugby came home with me on December 1, 2007 when he was 8-9 months old.  I was his fifth home, but I didn’t know that at the time.  I only knew that he had been a shelter dog, and a rescue pulled him hours before he was scheduled to be put to sleep.  When I think of that today, it makes me shudder.  I spent several hours at his foster home, carefully observing him and talking with his foster mom.  Rugby seemed very calm, but playful.  I just could not believe my luck in finding such a diamond!  Who in the world would ever have given him up and why?

When it was time to go home, Rugby’s foster mom carried him to the car, and giving him one final hug, placed him in the crate I had brought along for the journey.  I’ll never forget the feeling of joy and pride as I pulled away from her home with my little speckled furry treasure in the backseat of my car.  We settled into the three hour drive, and Rugby was as quiet as a church mouse, not seeming nervous or anxious at all.  I just remember driving along, talking to him, talking out loud to myself, and making a million dreams for this little puppy that had captured my heart from a computer screen.  It had been 5 years since I had been a dog owner, and I was so very excited I could hardly stand it!

His initial transition was outstanding in general terms.  He quickly seemed to adjust to the rhythm and patterns of my life.  I gave him time to adjust to his new home, and to learn a new routine, and a predictable new life before I started doing anything serious about training.

When the whole family was home at night we all played with him, and he seemed to really enjoy being the center of attention.  He played with everyone equally, and when one family member tired of a game, he went to the next, trying to keep all of us engaged.

My very favorite times with him were early in the morning, before anyone else was awake.  Every morning, after he had been outside and fed, we had time to snuggle in the quiet of the day.  He often had a chew bone, and he would lay across my lap and chew, while I stroked his soft head, and fingered the fluffy tendrils that grew behind his ears. He had the softest, silkiest fur, and he just loved being petted!  He seemed to be a huge love sponge, and never seemed to get enough.

It was in those quiet snuggle times that we bonded together, and I whispered my dreams in his soft, floppy ears.  I wondered if we would be an Agility team together, since he was very athletic, or maybe join a Flyball team, because he really loved to run.  He was really very smart and could learn tricks with ease! Maybe he would be a trick dog, entertaining at schools, or a Frisbee champion!  Two of my previous dogs had been Pet Therapy dogs, and I really missed being able to do that. I had no idea what he would grow up to do or be, but I loved dreaming about what could be.

Looking back, however, I realize now that all of those dreams centered about what I wanted.  I really hadn’t thought about the life that Rugby might have wanted when he came to live with us.  Those dreams were mine….not his.  It wasn’t long before I began to see another side of Rugby that would send all of my dreams up in smoke.

Rugby baby pic
One of our early morning snuggle sessions





  1. Karen Laferney says

    Can't wait to hear the rest of the story about your plans and dreams.
    I like the idea if the quick reward for work well done. I have never used a clicker before. Reading between the lines, I get the impression you do. Is that correct, and if so, why do you use it?
    Thank you for the great tips and heart warming stories!!!

    • Sally says

      Hi Karen! Thanks for your comments and great question! Dogs catch on SO much quicker if the reward is immediate and the trainer consistent, because they don't have to do additional work to sort out what we want from them through a lot of trial and error. I use both a clicker or verbal marker with Rugby. He responds well to both, and if I don't have a clicker in my hand, I can still mark his behavior. The clicker is louder and sharper in sound, and Rugby is SO highly reactive, that sometimes he just responds better to that sound for me. But I don't use it 100% of the time, and I rarely use clickers with my client's dogs, as many of my clients simply don't like them. It's definitely NOT a deal breaker in training, but it can help make things go a bit quicker for the dog. If you have additional questions, or need more clarification, please feel free to let me know!


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