Dogs on Drugs & The Book of Wonder

Starr started taking behavioural medication (AKA her “drugs”) during the second to last week in August of this year.  Since then she’s been both a wonderful brat, and a stressed little girlie; but I like to think that we’re starting to get somewhere with it all.

After she’d been on drugs for a week or so, I took a problem discussion point to the Facebook Recallers group and got so many wonderful, and brilliantly supportive comments from all around the Facebook Say Yes community.

I had used her tugging as an example of the way she seemed to be “losing drive” – she’d gone from a tugging maniac to a dog who could take it or leave it, even at home.

I got lots of great suggestions, and resources posted on my thread but most of all I was reminded to take it easy.

Starr, taking it easy (on the coffee table!)

I love my dogs, and would never push them into something they couldn’t cope with, but in wanting to unlock all that I know Starr can be, I wasn’t giving her the time she needs before she can give me her all and work alongside me.

I was rushing her, I realised, like a pushy-pageant-mom.

This did not make me happy, so we stopped.  I’ve stopped worrying that she’s mostly “untrained”, and I’ve stopped worrying that she doesn’t really enjoy training (yet – hopefully!), and we’re just going to play, have fun, and worry about all that other stuff later.

One thing that’s helping me with this is writing down all the little things that Starr does, all her little “personal” wins.  Of course, I’ve noticed these things since last December, and I’ve been happy when she’s won at something new or difficult, but I’ve not been recording them, and that means I’ve been forgetting things, or mis-remembering them.  So I decided that I should start writing  down all the great things Starr does, so that I have a record of how brilliant she is that I can look back on – either when she’s having a “bad” day (to remind myself it’s not her “normal”); or when she’s winning lots of ribbons and trophies (to remind myself how far she’s come).

Enter “The Book of Wonder”.  This is a special notebook just for writing down all the things that Starr either does, or doesn’t do that make me proud, or help me to know know that she’s becoming less anxious/more confident.  Things like “didn’t bark at a delivery man”, or “willingly approached auntie June and didn’t flinch when she moved her hand towards Starr”.

I try and find something to write each day, but the nature of life means I might not always get the opportunity, although I know that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s not progressing (sometimes quite the opposite!).

This past couple of weeks, I’ve been thankful for having a such a wonderful support network – whether that’s people I see every day, or every week, or even just a couple of times a year, or if I may never actually see them in real life!  I’m also thankful for Susan Garrett, her brilliant courses and all the wonderful people they attract!


8 thoughts on “Dogs on Drugs & The Book of Wonder

  1. Your attention to details about your animal is heart-warming. I have come to the conclusion that having an animal is just as time consuming and expensive as having a child…who is going to college. Our Graice, who is a golden retriever, is our love…and she truly is golden…for she has had two leg surgeries and is finally recovering at age 10. There is nothing we would not do for her…and believe that she will be our last dog because it is most likely a commitment of years to everyone’s life. We have had two other golden retrievers that died of cancer. Blessings to you as you continue to search for the right thing. Life is short, especially for them, and they need all the care you have to give. Nancy at

    • I think I can agree with you there, it can certainly feel that way some days – but then they come and snuggle into you with those big brown eyes and you’d do it all again for them.

      I’m glad to hear Gracie is recovering, she sounds like a fighter having two leg surgeries!

  2. I’m adding a new acronym to my daily life…BOW..”Book of Wonder” happily joins BAT, Big Adventure Time. It’s wonder full to read about your journey. Thank you!

  3. I like your idea of a BOW (and love the acronym just as much… how fitting!). I’m trying to be patient and celebrate small milestones with our newly adopted dog. Some days, he’s golden. Some days, a disaster. A BOW is a great way to mark accomplishments and track our bond.

    • I know exactly what you mean! I definitely think writing things down is helping me to be more positive about what’s going on and realise that the world isn’t actually crashing down around us because something happened lol

  4. Pingback: Record Keeping | Pawsitively Training

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