Tika is a good dog. Given her background, upbringing, and temperament, she’s pretty much the best dog she can be. Every family has an eccentric aunt or uncle in their family tree. You accept the idiosyncrasies and maybe roll your eyes and laugh. Tika is the good-natured goofball in our canine family.
But it wasn’t always this way. Living with Tika for the last two years has been a test of my dog owning endurance. When I got her, she had every behavior problem in the book. She piddled on the floor every time she got near anybody, she jumped on people, she chewed up the house, she chewed on herself and was in constant motion all the time. I took her to two obedience classes where she was utterly mortifying. My classmates looked scared; the instructors looked sad. I continued to try every training method I could find information on. Suffice it to say, the first 6 months were pretty rough. Most of the time I was angry, exhausted, and depressed.
Given all these behavior problems, many would have returned Tika to the shelter post-haste. But through it all, Tika was still my dog and she loved me. Passionately, vigorously, and completely hyperactively, but she loved me. I’m not an exceptional dog owner, but in Tika’s eyes I was. So I vowed to make good on my commitment to her. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t inexpensive, and it wasn’t convenient. Working with her required a lot of time, a lot of patience, and help from my veterinarian and a behaviorist. But it was worth it. Tika is now a dog we can live with and enjoy. Of course, Tika still isn’t perfect and I’ll never be able to do a lot of things with her just because she’s a high-energy dog with a brain chemistry problem. But I can accept that. And as Tika rests her big gold snout on my leg and looks up at me with her liquid brown eyes, I accept her too — lovable, silly goofball that she is.