I recently posted a question to Facebook looking for some ideas for inspiration. A kick in the butt to get writing again. A friend posed the question, ‘How have animals changed your world? ❤️❤️❤️ How have YOU changed since Landon entered your world?’

How have animals changed my world? I’ve always loved animals. Growing up I had a pet bird and a pet rabbit. And I always wanted to have a dog or cat, but was never allowed. My mom is allergic to cats (and so am I) and she was deathly afraid of dogs. So, neither of those were able to be a part of my childhood. But I had family and friends that had pets, so I got to play with theirs and I was happy. I always loved animals. I’d look for them while we’d go on road trips to visit family, I’d point them out any time I’d spot one. Buffalo were a huge thing for me and we always saw them on our way to Vermilion, when we’d pass Elk Island Park.

When I turned 27, I decided that I wanted a dog and was going to finally get one. My mom and I own our house together, so out of respect for her, I asked for her blessing. When I happened upon Landon’s picture on Whitecourt Homeless Animal Rescue Foundation’s (WHARF) website, I knew he was the dog for me. Something about his timid little puppy face spoke to me.

Dog
The picture that sealed my fate!

I just knew that I had to meet him! So I hit the inquire button and filled out my info. His foster mom contacted me that night! I set up a meet and greet with him and had my mom come along. I wanted her to meet him to see how comfortable she was with him. I was in love instantly with this beautiful, terrified puppy (he was seven months old at the time). My mom said that she had felt so bad for him because he was so scared of us. On our way home (we wanted to chat first before making any decisions) we were making a list of all that we’d need and have to do for his arrival – we looked at each other and laughed. It was official! Landon was coming home with us! We called the foster home and set up a time for a few days later (had to get supplies!) and we brought him home.

To be honest the first night and the next morning were rough. I thought I had a HUGE mistake. See, when we got Landon home he would NOT leave our backdoor area. He was shaking and wouldn’t budge. So I set up a blanket for him and while slept there overnight, I slept on the couch in the basement so that I could keep an eye on him.

The next morning, I went to let him out to potty and he ran right into our greenhouse and hid underneath some benches for an HOUR AND A HALF! I couldn’t get him out no matter what I did. I was crying and upset because he was so scared and I didn’t know what to do. When I finally got him out and he did his business, I calmed down and was able to get him back inside the house. Later that morning, we went for a two hour walk around the neighbourhood. That actually went well and I was so relieved. Afterwards, he decided to cool off in some plants in our backyard.

Dog in garden
“Ok, Imma hang out here for now!” 

We stayed outside for a bit and then headed inside. Landon actually followed me down the stairs to the living room! So I took his blanket and laid it on the floor. He made himself comfy and I laid down next to him. We napped for a few hours and then after that, he wouldn’t leave my side! Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me!

The next nine years have held many ups and downs in my journey with Landon. The first few years especially. I pretty much knew nothing about owning a dog and we had A LOT of trial and error when it came to training and learning what we needed to about each other. Because Landon was always such a fearful (and fear-reactive) dog, I had to try and find ways to make the world less scary for him. I didn’t really know how to do this and in the beginning I made TONS of mistakes. However, these mistakes lead me to the decision that I wanted to learn all I could about dogs and I wanted to learn to help dogs like Landon. So I decided that I was going to become a dog trainer. I looked into a few options and found an online course that I was able to start right away. This course also had an internship portion where I was matched with a trainer and had to observe, assist, and eventually teach classes as a part of my training.

The trainer that I was paired up with also owned a doggy daycare and they happened t be hiring at the time. I thought that it would be a great opportunity to put what I was learning into action and also a great way to learn all about dogs. How can  you not learn about dogs when you are surrounded by them! I got hired and the rest, as they say, is history!

Landon has taught me so much about patience, learning, loving, and hope. He’s taught me so much about myself and what I want out of life. My outlook on animals changed completely since having him in my life. I wanted to do more. I became a vegetarian (I try to eat as closely to vegan as I can, but it’s not always possible for me (more on that later).

How else have I changed? Well, I think it’s safe to say that I am constantly evolving and a huge part of that is thanks to the animals I have and have had in my life.

Landon & Lyla
My furry kids!

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