Happy Adoptiversary, Reggie Boo!
We’ve just returned from a long weekend camping adventure, our first as a family of three. Reggie earned the nickname BBQ Bill after jumping onto a picnic table to consume an entire plate of unoccupied meatballs. He’s spent today, his makeshift birthday, in various positions trying to find comfort in his meat sweats. Nothing like breaking his strict raw food diet with spicy meatballs. He’s paying for it though, and perhaps even feels a hint of remorse. Just a hint.
It was on this day, one year ago, that we raced home from our last weekend of freedom to get the apartment puppy ready. We spent the afternoon picking up a crate and tidying the place up, as the foster was going to drop him off later in the afternoon. She left us some provisions and this little scruff ball of cuteness. It was such an ordinary day, made extraordinary by the arrival of the third member of our little family.
All photos by Jenna Hill Photography
He came into our lives with many quirks. I mean, every dog is bound to have something to work on, but the list sure was especially long with Reg. Those first few months were extra stressful.
As most rescues initially are, Reggie was terrified. Poor little pup didn’t know or trust us yet. He was so anxious that he refused to eat his meals and would spit out treats we tried to give him. Which, anyone who has ever trained a dog knows that without food motivation, obedience is nearly impossible. Every noise in the apartment was scary. He would growl at anyone entering the building or in the hallway, or just any loud noise in general. The days around Halloween were especially tough for all of us.
He was VERY Leash Reactive. Which, is a term for those dogs that start going barking mad at other dogs, cats, squirrels, and for some dogs, people, whilst on the leash. Reggie would bark and growl and wind himself in circles at the sight of ANY dog. Walking Reggie wasn’t fun for us at all. In fact, we kind of began dreading them.
Not only were walks challenging, but thanks to his abandonment, he suffers from Separation Anxiety. His SA isn’t as severe as some, but with our strict building rules, and in order to keep him comfortable, we didn’t have the option to leave him alone in the apartment. This stripped us of our free time completely. I look back, and don’t know how we survived the first six months. I worked from home almost every day. Adam and I had to do everything separately, down to the grocery shopping, and check in and carefully plan out every evening and weekend to make sure either one of us is staying home with Reg, or arrange for a sitter. No joke, this dog is the textbook definition of a fur baby. Beyond his inability to be left alone, Reggie also couldn’t handle car rides. He would get sick every single time we drove him somewhere, no matter how short the trip. I think his motion sickness largely comes from his journey to BC from California, which must have been so scary for him.
The lifestyle change hit us hard. Spontaneity was a foreign word to us, we had to plan out every minute of every day around the darn dog!
Though he came with a laundry list of items to work on, it was always apparent that he had such a good heart. His sweet nature would shine through, even when he was trying to act his toughest. His aggressive snuggles and ability to adapt to new situations wins people over all the time. Okay, his wire hair does the trick too, thanks to his slight mohawk and wild grey beard.
In order to make it through this past year, our tribe stepped up big time. The amount of support our friends and family provided still baffles me. They offered to dog sit, and even those who aren’t dog people or allergic, let us bring him into their homes. We enlisted the help of an AMAZING trainer, which was an absolute game changer. She helped us get him to eat, ease his general anxiety, and provided a support to us that we desperately needed. Her tools for Leash Reactivity were impressively effective, making the experience of walks now enjoyable for all of us. The biggest help was getting Reggie’s social skills to the point where he could go to daycare. Since January, he has consistently been attending dog daycare and it has saved my sanity and improved his ability to interact with dogs.
His progress is incredible, he’s like a completely different dog than last year. Little BBQ Bill loves food, probably a little too much. Though he remains a svelte 15 pounds, he eats a ton, loves exercise and playing with other dogs (though, let’s face it, he’s still hilariously awkward when playing). So far, he’s not much of a swimmer, but we’ll see about that by next summer. He’s so full of personality, he makes us belly laugh at least once a day. And even when he’s driving us nuts, he’s just so cute that it melts our hearts. His Leash Reactivity and anxiety are relatively in check, though there’s still the odd day that he seems rattled by everything.
At the moment, we are actively working on his Separation Anxiety. We are up to almost 40 minutes of alone time for him, which is huge. The amount of work that needs to go into desensitizing the triggers of us leaving is exhausting. We need to pick up keys, shower and get ready, or put shoes on without leaving. We have to hang out separately in the apartment and close doors whenever possible. We need to leave the house for short periods of time. These daily tasks require effort each day, but we’re up for the challenge. My ultimate goal is 2 hours by November. That way, we could do short errands together or maybe even go out for the occasional dinner again. Wouldn’t that be glorious?!
I know I’ve made dog ownership sound like a lot of work, but for us, it really has been. I believe we’re all given the dogs that we can handle though, and with my flexible schedule and our eagerness to make Reggie comfortable, he really is the perfect pooch for us. We’re obviously obsessed.
It’s hard to remember what life was like before little Bubbs, but I can tell you that it certainly wasn’t as fulfilled. He has brought so much joy to us and those close to us. We love him so much and are beyond grateful that we are lucky enough to spend our days with him. Excited for him to turn 3…ish. Even if his greying fur makes him look 80!
A huge thanks to Jenna Hill for capturing these photos of our little family. We cherish these pictures so much, film photography is legit the best!