Ready, Set, Go! Pet Parenting- Are You Ready?

We had wanted a dog for several years and I’m not entirely sure why we hadn’t adopted earlier, but maybe it was because our dog “readiness” and our future canine companion hadn’t intersected paths. The word “readiness” seems very presumptuous to me now- I mean we were willing to adopt a dog, but never felt fully prepared. Like having a child, is anyone ever fully prepared? We have three adult children and even after all of these years- I can honestly say, NO. Sure, we had read the books, talked to the doctors and listened intently to countless parents, but it’s not until that baby is in your arms do you really start learning what it is to be a parent. The same is true with our pets.

Emmylou was a loveable character found wandering the streets of Chicago. She was placed in a shelter, the “come love me” picture was posted, Sarah McLachlan was playing in the background and the stars aligned. I was smitten immediately and had to meet her. It was Christmas Eve…classic storybook tale.

She had a noticeable leg limp, which was later determined to be a dislocation and lil’ Emmy Lou had surgery. Within 2 days, this sweet little dog was in our home and as a foster and it was our job to assist in her rehabilitation and recovery. WHAT? Seriously, what did we know about dogs- never mind their rehabilitation.

We read all of the articles, visited the blogs, spoke to the vet and muddled through. Within 6 weeks, our formidable and very resilient dog was jumping into our laps, jumping over fences and not to sound too cliché- had jumped into our hearts. Foster fail 101.

It wasn’t until months later that I discovered the wonderful world of canine massage and pet parenting classes. How I wish I would have attended one of these remarkable classes during our dog’s rehabilitative journey. What a difference it would have made in our dog’s recovery as well as for our confidence in not only handling a post -surgical dog, but in parenting a dog in general.

The Chicago School of Canine Massage had developed a class, which was very hands-on and provided all of the basic tools needed to assess my dog’s body and behavior. I had never heard of low-stress handling before and the class was invaluable in teaching me ways to reduce anxiety and work with my dog. This would have been so helpful to me as I was helping Emmy Lou recover. Imagine being able to understand the dog’s communication, help decrease her stress and thus facilitate her recovery. It also taught me techniques I could use to relax her and to soothe overworked and sore muscles. Most importantly it taught me how to assess my dog’s body which I will continue during her lifespan to look for anomalies- whether it be a lump, a tender area or a more serious injury. The class has prepared me to work with my dog differently. It’s made me truly look at all dogs with a keener sense and YES, has readied me to be a better pet parent. Has Emmy Lou seen or felt the difference? She sure looks happier!

If you’d like to learn more about the class, please visit the website. The next class is Saturday, February 21, 2015 from 10:00am to 12:00pm.