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The night I met Mabel, it was an instant infatuation. I fell in love with her silly playfulness as she jumped on her foster mom’s sofa, bone in her mouth, butt in the air to be close to me while she chewed. And she let me know she liked me too by sitting on my feet as I readied myself to leave.

However, we all know the “oh-goodness-you’re-perfect,” “no, you’re-perfect-and-I-love-you” stage fades when real-life starts settling in. Mabel and I hit some brick walls this week from a crate training setback because I discovered she’s deathly afraid of ceiling fans to her chewing up her car restraints, not once but twice on her way to daycare.

When those who want to do right by our dogs, as we’re getting to know them, trying not to overwhelm them, upset their tummies, give them toys they could guard or ingest, try and fail; it’s emotionally draining. 

We have to give ourselves credit for the responsibility we’ve taken on and every action and decision that we make to help them, love them, and show them that they’re safe, and we’ll do anything to give them the happiest, healthiest lives.

I can see in sweet Mabel’s face that she’s trying to figure out the world she’s been in for 20 days. What she doesn’t know is that I know it takes a lot more time for her to adjust, and I’ll do everything I can to help her every step of the way.

So, today, I offer all of us this, let’s give ourselves a mental high-five for every early morning or late night walk we take to minimize stimuli. Let’s silently say “good job” for utilizing daycare more if that’s our dog’s happiest place in the world. Let’s acknowledge every confidence-building, low-pressure training session we build into our busy schedules. Let’s recognize our efforts. We’d do it for our dogs.

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