by Christina Wong (Oct 18 2015)
Overheard at LARPBO Sherman Oaks:
“See that dog sitting over there?”
“Yea, the pretty brown and white guy? Oh, he’s so good!”
“He wasn’t always like that! We used to call him “Seal Boy.”
Yup, Seal Boy. That’s our dog. He got that nickname because when we first brought him to LARPBO class we couldn’t even get him 30 ft near the class without him losing his shit pulling on the leash and making this god-awful, horrific sound out of his mouth — which can only be described as a drowning seal being strangled. He was like this when we took him for walks around the neighborhood and out in public any time there was a dog in our vicinity. It was awful! It took us 4 weeks of walking around the outside perimeter until Miles could even join the class.
To all the dog parents out there who have extra “vocal” dogs, I feel you. We had no idea what Miles’ screams meant. Did he want to play with the other dogs or did he want to attack them? We didn’t know what to do. Do we yell at him or give him leash pops or console him and tell him it’s okay? Mostly we were embarrassed and didn’t know how to handle our 75 lb. beast on a leash.
We tried to take him to do happy dog things. Once at Dana Point Harbor an old mean man told us that our dog was out of control. We almost paid $600 to a “pitbull trainer” named Cinnamon who guarantees a transformation with one day of training. I’ll let you decide which part of that sentence is the most ridiculous.
Instead, we found LARPBO and figured for $15 a class, it was worth a try. We went to class every week, and slowly Miles didn’t lose his shit anymore when other dogs were around. Even though “railroad tracks” was the most confusing concept on Day 1, now we know how to use it to redirect Miles away from the distraction and back to us for a reward. We tried every leash and do-hickey training aid collar out there and eventually ended up getting ecollar training with LARPBO. It was the best tool for us to communicate with Miles. The alternative was yanking on his collar yelling “COME! COME! COME!” looking like crazy people with a crazy dog.
2 years after adopting our “Seal Boy,” he passed his Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test, and we’re in the advanced class aiming for the Advanced CGC. We still have setbacks and occasional seal moments, but that means the training never ends. We’re better, more informed owners who know how to read Miles’ body language and respond accordingly. He’s blossomed into an amazing dog that we couldn’t have even imagined was possible that first day of LARPBO class. To think, Miles was abandoned at the shelter and almost met his kill day but was saved at the last minute by his fosters. We almost gave him back because we didn’t know if we were the right home for him, or if he was going to eat our cats.
Saturdays are now our “school” days and we look forward to seeing our LARPBO friends. Sure, there are plenty of other things that we could be doing, but school is what’s best for Miles so we make that commitment. In return, he’s given back to us more love and joy than our hearts can hold. LARPBO and the community they’ve built is full of supportive people who are pretty amazing.
Now I smile when I hear the dog at class who sounds like a screaming goat, say hello to the owners of the small dog that has a bark like a freight train, and tell Miles’ story to the new members who look mortified that their dog is barking out of control and leaping in the air like a wild stallion. Yup, been there. Screaming dogs unite. Everyone at LARPBO understands, please don’t be embarrassed. That’s why we’re here. Don’t give up.
I’m sharing Miles’ story because even though you see him from a distance and think “wow, he’s so well-behaved!” you have no idea. He started 30 ft away from class as lunatic Seal Boy. Now we can take him to do happy dog things confident that he’s a LARPBO ambassador.
Follow @milesthepit on Instagram to see more of his adventures!
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 support TEAM LARPBO by donating to our October 2018 Race for the Rescues goal. Donations benefit LARPBO, as well as various shelters and rescue organizations.
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