At some point in time, I made the decision that continuing to “socialize” Rugby was causing more harm than good. Even though I wanted him to be able to have fun adventures, I really had to consider the fact that the adventures I wanted to be fun for him….simply weren’t, from his perspective. I wondered if it was possible that a dog really didn’t want to get out in the world and could enjoy just having a small world instead.
I’m a bit of an introvert, I’ll admit that. I really enjoy just being home with my peeps and my pooch. I don’t need to be around a crowd of people in order to be happy. I love seeing the photos of friends who do a lot of travel and have big adventures, but truth be told, I’d rather stay home. When I travel, I have a good time for sure, but I’m never happier than when I’m walking back through the door to my house.
And while I was pondering what to do with Rugby, in those long ago days, I started wondering if a dog can be a bit like that too. What if not all dogs really like neighborhood walks? What if some dogs really don’t care about participating in dog events like “Mardi Growl?” What if he didn’t go hiking with me, or swim in the lake? Would I shortchange Rugby if he didn’t do those things? I hated the thought of not including him in my everyday life! But until I could sort that out, I felt like I needed to put a stop to what I had been doing up to that point, because it clearly was not working well at all for Rugby!
So I regrouped for many months. We stayed home. We quit going on outings unless Rugby could stay in the car. He loved that. He loved coming with me, and he really enjoyed not having to get out of the car and confront anything scary. At home, since he was making some progress with his wacky behavior, I continued to work on those things, and instead of socializing him, I put my efforts into more productive work for us.
I worked on things that I knew should build trust between us. I taught tricks. I played games. I decided to just have fun with Rugby at home, and I helped him learn that he was safe and that I would give him a predictable life. I hoped that he would eventually be able to trust me away from home, and that I would someday be able to give him outings again…and resume training outside in his scary world. But I decided that even if that never happened, I was just going to enjoy my little hot mess of a dog for being the kooky little guy that he was…and keep him at home!
Fast forward eight years, and not much has changed, really. Rugby continues to make progress here and there…always in baby steps. Rugby and I are still homebodies, happy to have a smaller world, and we enjoy our lives together in that venue. I take him on occasional outings away from home which he seems to really enjoy. Sometimes he runs errands with me, or just rides on appointments with me for a day and stays in the car while I’m training. He loves being able to go with me, and he’s just as happy as I am, to come home at the end of the outing.
We’re a good fit, my little dogger and I. We may be more alike than I realize…or am willing to admit! Rugby, like me, seems to be completely content with his life, even though it’s smaller than other dogs. I like to think that the love that we have for each other makes up for any loss of a big outside world. We’ve build a rock solid relationship because of the tough stuff we’ve been through together.
I was wrong thinking that Rugby wanted and / or needed a big outside world to be happy or to have a great life. He just needed someone who would love him and never give up on him, being open minded enough to try some different things to see what would work. And when it all comes down to it, big world…small world…any kind of world….what really matters in the end is love. And that, my dear friends, is in huge supply at my house!