by Heather Herrera (Aug 26 2016)
I have always had a mad love for animals. I had been asking for a dog for a couple of years, to no avail. I grew up with many dogs, got my first cat (without asking) at 14 years old, and had been hankering for a pup of our own. My husband Carlos, not a natural born animal lover like me, always liked animals…from afar. Not long after dating me, he brought home a kitten he found emaciated in the street. Slowly, he started warming up to the idea of a dog. My son Dylan wanted a Husky, Carlos wanted a Frenchie, Old English Bulldog or a Pitbull, and I wanted to save a life. As we talked more about getting a dog, both Carlos and Dylan insisted on getting a puppy. Knowing how much work a puppy was, I tried to convince them an adult dog can be good too, they were not having it.
We decided we would get a puppy at end of spring so that Dylan could spend the summer bonding and taking care of it. Like with all aspects of my life, I have to overdo everything and jump in feet first and basically think of nothing else. I started looking at rescues, city shelters, signed up for email notifications of (husky) puppies brought in -this was supposed to be Dylan’s puppy after all; I spent endless hours looking. NKLA got an adorable litter of Pitbull puppies but they were gone in no time, of course. Plus, it was too early in the year…we weren’t ready, so why was I looking?? If we went through a rescue, we would have be ‘approved’ but I found out quickly, they were too strict on their requirements for our yard, our house, etc. I was getting discouraged and sad reading about all of the animals needing a home and I really wanted to save them all.
In early March of 2015, Best Friends got a female Pitbull puppy but didn’t upload a photo. I checked the website daily and ALMOST went to check it out. It was too early, we weren’t ready, what am I doing?? Over a week later, the listing for ‘Penelope’ was still active, still no photo. Tired of listening to my angst, my husband dragged me to Best Friends that weekend. We walked up and down every isle, no puppy. I finally asked someone working there, do you have a puppy?? The girl told me, they did have a puppy but they had to warn me, she may have medical problems. I asked if I could see her – we were led to a small indoor room with a wall of kennels for puppies or cats. The little puppy, mostly black with big white front paws, was all by herself. I was told to put on gloves and not get her too close to my face, they thought she had ringworm which could be contagious. I knelt down and the puppy pounced at me, downward dog with her little white-tipped tail waggling in the air. Soon she was all over me, there was no stopping that for sure. Not knowing enough about ringworm and my concern for Dylan and the elderly cats in the house, we left her there to think it over and do some more research. Of course, I couldn’t stop thinking about her that night, that poor little puppy all alone in that room. I was so sad, I didn’t sleep at all as my heart was hurting for her. I wanted her and we would just have to deal with whatever she was dealing with. The next day, a full 2½ months before we thought we would be getting a puppy, we got a puppy!!
We scrambled to get a crate, food, bowls, leashes, and a collar. She didn’t even have her own name yet – Penelope didn’t fit her so for her first week with us, we called her ‘puppy’ or JAWS because she nipped, A LOT and hard. Since we wanted Dylan to be a big part of her life, we said he could name her and he decided her name would be Hope.
Being first time dog owners, with a crazy biting little Tasmanian devil of a dog, I immediately signed up with the first private trainer I found online. It went downhill from there; Hope was aggressive and biting all of us. The trainer was in over her head and Hope’s behavior got worse after only a few sessions. I then went to Petco and signed up for Puppy 1 & Puppy 2, which was fine but had very little exposure to real life experiences, plus Hope was still acting out with her aggression and Dylan became one of her constant focal points. We had the Petco trainer come to our house, which helped a little but not enough.
Feeling a little lost and more than a little discouraged, I stumbled upon LARPBO in one of my many hours spent online looking for answers. I signed up for our first class in July but wasn’t able to start attending regularly until October. Once we started going to class every Saturday, I got better and more confident and Hope got better and less aggressive. I learned to read and understand her; she wasn’t the alpha female as I had been told she was, she was a social opportunist and wanted to see what she could get away with. She wanted to play, be silly, and have fun and when the fun stops too soon for her, she would act out to get her way. As her training progressed, she learned that I was fun and when she was good and obedient, she got rewarded by having fun and playing. Once we had this understanding, her obedience exceled and she passed her CGC (Canine Good Citizen) on March 26th, 2016 – just over one year after adopting her.
Hope (or Hopey as we call her) is such a character and still has her brat moments but with LARPBO’s help, I understand her and love her more every day. I am just as excited as she is to learn new things and go on new adventures.
These days, we look forward to class every week and the long deserved naps after class. We enjoy pack walks with her pup friends and other opportunities in the community to show how strong our bond has become and how much LARPBO has helped us.
Where there is Hope, there is LARPBO <3.
To join our classes or free pack walks, visit Meetup.
Meet LARPBO Dogs & Peeps
These stories illustrates LARPBO’s part in keeping dogs home and out of shelters AND guiding owners to help dogs reach their potential. Please help us continue making a difference in the community. Click here to donate to our Shelter Intervention & Prevention Program so that we can continue our mission.
- Bodhi: Better than a Doodle!
- Cali: It’s All About Cali!
- Cathy & Isaac: A Note to LARPBO
- Dexter: There’s No Stopping Dexter
- Frannie: How Did this Happen?
- Grace: An Addict, a Pit Bull and Grace
- Hope: Where there is Hope
- Houston: From a Dog No One Wanted to Therapy Dog
- Jane, Moses & Andie: A Human-K9 Pack
- JJ: Capturing the Heart of a First Time Pit Bull Owner
- Lacy: What’s in a Name
- Lisa: LARPBO and My Journey
- Lynwood: The Chick Magnet
- Miles Woo: So You Think My Dog is Good?
- Ollie: LARPBO Dog Becomes Therapy Dog
- Rusty: Discarded “trash” to therapy dog
- Samson: Samson is Family
- Tito: LARPBO Speak!
- Wesley: Following Wesley