I am no saint.I have had horrible thoughts, but* Ernie is a special dog and I have done what any other Lab owner would do.
Two things happened that convinced me I did the right thing. One was the time I wanted to give him away and the other is the hole in the wall story.(Separate stories as they are too long.)
Two trainers told me I would never be able to cope with Ernie,but I couldn’t afford a full time trainer, so gave it my best shot. I also didn’t want his fragile spirit broken, if someone was too hard on him.
I started with small reachable goals such as toilet training, trusting people and giving him confidence. A few weeks went by and he slowly relaxed more. Noises still frightened him. His previous owners always called him the “scaredy chicken.” He sat in the corner of the room and if people came to the house he wouldn’t look at them or go to the door. As he relaxed he slept in the corner. As we bonded he sat closer to me. He now sits on top of me, and is first at the door with a destuffed toy. I had extra gates put in as he always ran away. Now he goes to the door and will not go further unless he is on the lead. It took 6 months for me to be able to walk him a block without him trying to flick his collar off and run away. He spent 3 years perfecting this trick so was good at it.
He has been hard to deal with so I had to bribe, cajole,or beg to get family to take him when I went on holiday. He spent one weekend in the kennels and they asked me not to bring him back. Once again I was very embarrassed and even though I defend him I felt I failed him. I am sure owners of naughty dogs feel failures more often than not.Especially when people keep telling you how naughty your dog is.
Mentally and physically Ernie is very strong, and determined. I found the best way to deal with him was outwit him and be more determined. If not he fights back and turns into a frenzied monster. Once when I asked the vet to be gentle with Ernie he ignored it and ended up having to sedate Ernie.(I don’t let this vet near Erns now) For the last few months they don’t use a muzzle on him. I hated to see this.* Another time he managed to escape from the vets. They call him "Ernie the delinquent.” Or lately “ the delinquent”.
We have all fallen for the butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth look. No matter how many times I tell people don’t trust him they do and soon regret it. Several plumbers and tradesmen will tell Ernie stories for years.(yes will tell these stories).
I can take Erns to lunch with me and he sits quietly plotting and planning. People stop and say what a gorgeous dog and isn’t he so obedient. “Oh yes” I say (if only they knew lol ).I am sure I see my boy wink.
Ernie is a totally different dog to what he was a year ago. He will never be the most obedient dog. He now understands words, has more spirit, a sparkle in his eyes, loves life and makes me laugh. When he looks at me with those beautiful brown eyes that say I love you I don’t care, that he has terrorised the plumber, or shredded my new curtains, eaten the dinner off the counter, had me chasing him down the road wearing a bath robe and gumboots, crawling through hedges to get him, jumping into the sea for the third time in a week because his hip popped out, or wakes me at 3am so he can snack on hidden poop.
Earlier this year I stalked the house when Ernie went through some health issues and a second xray showed his hips were worse than first thought. I was devastated and cried for days when the vet suggested I get a puppy and let Ernie go. My precious boy and I have been through too much to give up that easily. Unfortunately his hips aren't doing as well as we hoped, but Spring is here and Ernie and I have work to do.
If only there were more people like you in the world. Ernie's one lucky labby.
You both deserve each other
Ernie is such a lucky boy to have found you.
Thanks for sharing these stories...I am really enjoying them.
Oh Chris - that sparkle in his eye is because of YOU!!!! You gave life back to that boy, as well as some structure - which he DESPERATELY needed.
I don't think things happen accidently.....he came to you for a reason. I don't know....maybe to help you heal after Kass?
Whatever it was, sure was a good match. Give Ern a big hug.
Brenda from Connecticut
Ernie is such a special guy. Thank you for sharing.
A match made in Heaven! Ernie obviously needed YOU, and I think that you probably needed HIM, exactly as he was. Thankfully, you found each other.
You and Ernie have a heartwarming and encouraging story. You belong together. I'm so sorry about Ernie's hips...I'll keep you both in my prayers.
Teresa, mom to Brigetta and Prudence
I enjoy hearing about Ernie. You could probably give Marley a run for it in the story telling.
Ernie is lucky to have foudn you.
Dani, Rider & Rookie
SHR Watson's Safari Rider, JH, WC, CL1-R, RA, CGC, TDI
SHR Endeavor Put Me In Coach, RN, WC, CGC
Member Since 6/2003
Thanks for posting Chris. I am sure that you have given other owners a lot of encouragement for dealing with their "difficult" ones.
You have truly made a difference in Ernie's life.*