I had always dreamt of sharing my life with a dog. I wanted a dog to take on hikes, runs, play fetch with, and be my travel companion. When I reached a point in my life in which I knew I could care for a dog I brought Tobin into my home. At eight weeks old the mixed breed puppy weighed in at 17 pounds. Tobin quickly began growing and before I knew it he was within ten pounds of my own bodyweight.
Tobin was an unruly puppy, but I thought he was just that, a puppy. Walks with Tobin were a horrible experience. He took every inch of leash I gave him. At the site of another dog Tobin would throw a frantic tantrum in an attempt to get near the other dog. He was totally obsessed with other dogs. I had been dragged across streets, parks, mud, and had the bruises and road burn to prove it. Despite Tobin's eagerness to meet other dogs not all dogs (or their owners) were always as excited to meet Tobin. Frequently I was yelled at to "Control your dog!" or worse would get the nasty dog version of "Back off buddy, I'm not interested." Each day slowly became more challenging than the last and Tobin did not seem to out grow his "puppy stage". I began avoiding areas where other dogs may be. I only walked down streets that gave me more than one way to exit should another dog walker chose the same route. On top of Tobin's poor canine manners he rarely listened to any commands I gave him. I soon found myself using run down, fenced in tennis courts to exercise my dog. Using the tennis courts allowed me to let Tobin run without fear of him bolting for another dog and since he was confined I didn't have to worry about him not coming back when I called. When I was ready to leave it would only take me an additional 20 minutes of chasing I could usually get his leash back on him. My dream dog was turning my life into a nightmare.
Now you may be thinking, "Why didn't you do something about this?" I tried trainers that used the following solutions: clickers and treats, gentle leaders, slip collars, choke collars, pinch collars, noise distractions, water corrections, physical leash corrections paired with guttural growling. Nothing worked. Tobin was becoming a burden to my daily life. To be honest, I looked forward to business travel when Tobin had to be kenneled. It was a much needed break from the constant frustration, anger, and anxiety.
As Tobin neared his third birthday I felt I had 3 options to consider. 1. Continue on the isolated, avoidant, stressful path we were on. 2. Find a farm Tobin could live on so he could potentially have a better quality of life. 3. Try one last trainer in the hopes that a new method would work for us.
I chose the third option. I am so grateful I gave Terry a chance. From our very first meeting I saw more than a glimpse of hope for life with Tobin. Tobin responded to Terry's simple, direct training system right away. It was as if we were able to communicate in terms we both understood. The life Tobin and I lead is so far from what it used to be it was actually difficult for me to draw up all the bad memories to write this article for Terry. I no longer have to yell, growl, or use physical corrections to obtain obedience. Each day is an absolute joy with Tobin. We share multiple walks/runs each day. We play fetch off leash in open fields. We hike, we swim, we engage in activities in public places...with other dogs! I get compliments on a regular basis, "Your dog is so well behaved," "What a splendid dog," "I wish my dog was like that..." My dog, that's my dog people are talking about! My expectations and hopes have been completely exceeded. My only regret is that I did not find Terry sooner. If you have any hesitations about working with Terry or her methods, don't. It was the best decision I have made for the well being of my dog. Tobin and I are now living the dream.