Terrissa Jing Shang and Alexis Longo in NYC adopted the 2.5year old Korean Jindo dog, Getty (TT) about 4 weeks ago. Terrissa shares a few stories of what she has learned after adopting Getty. Here is Part 3.
Learning to be a parent
On the second day, he started throwing up bile. I got extremely worried, I didn’t know what to do. He wouldn’t walk to the vet, wouldn’t let any one touch him, wouldn’t take medicine, etc. It was an impossible situation. I attempted to trick him into running with me so that we could get to the vet faster. We ran around the corner, 100 feet short of the vet and he froze. He would not move, his tail retracted and he wanted to go back to his haven. I felt helpless, I didn’t know what to do. I called the vet, two of them came out, trying to help, he snatched at them and started barking out of fear. Then I called an animal behaviorist, I tried all her suggestions, but one thing that I failed to do, is stay calm. I was worried, I was panicking, I was frustrated and he sensed it. If it was my little dog back home, I would have picked him up and brought him in, but this was a 50-pound dog. So, I told them that I needed to reschedule because I didn’t want TT to lose trust in me. I then called up various home vets. Some were unresponsive or didn’t care, but I finally found one that was so helpful, understanding and caring of the situation. I was in tears when I talked to the receptionist and she put Dr. Jonathan Leshanski on the phone and he completely calmed me down and told me that everything was going to be okay.
“It’s probably nothing, dogs, like humans, need time for their stomach to adjust to the new bacteria in the environment. Puking is just one of the symptoms. As long as he’s eating, drink, peeing, and pooping regularly, he should be fine.” Dr. Jonathan said in a calm and reassuring voice. My tears ceased, my breathing returned to normal, and TT stared at me thinking, why is she so worried?
The small rewards
At one point during the week, I was so stressed with him that I thought to myself, why did I get a big dog? Why didn’t I get a small one? Or one that’s friendlier? What did I get myself into? Being a 20-something year old in New York City, I should be exploring the city that never sleeps, but instead, I am at home taking care of my baby, TT. I have to walk him in the morning when my eyes barely open, feed him before I leave for school, come back home right after class, and walk him at night when the wind is piercing through my bones. He also proclaims his presence when I enter the house with a thunderous bark. For the first couple of days, I was terrified of entering into my own home where I felt safe and comfortable. One day, I cried to my roommate. And the next day, he surprised me by not barking at me when I came back home. And the day after, he started greeting me at the door with a wagging tale and a radiant but stinky smile. When I was worried that I couldn’t pet him outside to calm him down, he instinctively knew and surprised me the following day by letting me pet him as we took our daily walks. People always have said that dogs are human’s best friends, but they are our child, and although its hard work, seeing them grow and change is worth every tear and worry.
Now, if you ask me how I trained him… I didn’t and couldn’t. This dog is not food motivated. He does not care for compliments, he knows what he wants to do, and he does it. So, all we could do, is respect him, learn his body language, and try to understand him. And, I assume that he did the same for us. His body language became more apparent to me, I know when he is bored when he lays his head on his two paws and stares at me with half drooped eyes. I know when he isn’t comfortable when he lowers his head and timidly signals me to go home. I know when he is happy when he smiles and wags his tale. And I know when he’s about to hunt something down when he lunges forward and intensely stares at his target. But the act that completely changed his timid and anxious behavior was when we put away his kennel. The moment we put away his kennel, his tail unclenched, his body relaxed, and he became trusting of us. This was a way of showing him that he isn’t going anywhere, he’s home and now he knows it.
Written by Terrissa Jing Shang.