At the end of February, I had the opportunity to adopt a career-change dog from Leader Dogs for the Blind (LD). I eagerly said “yes”!
MiMi is a black lab and she is about 1 ½ years old. She was donated to LD and did not have the typical puppy socialization. Knowing she would need training I scheduled lessons with trainers.
First, I will admit that I had forgotten the work involved in bringing a new dog into the house! MiMi had not spent a lot of time in a home setting so initially sounds (washer, dryer, microwave, etc.) scared her. I live in a wooded setting, and I could tell that being outside was exciting and overwhelming for her. I can sum it up by saying that she disrupted most of my routines!
Now, about eight weeks later, we have established new routines. This week I realized that MiMi has taught me a lot.
- Disrupting routines periodically is a good thing (I was not feeling this way a couple of months ago). The beauty of routines is that they don’t require much thought. The downside to routines and habits is that it is easy to keep doing them because that is what we do. Changing our routines periodically is a good way to pay attention to what could use some updates (or abandonment).
- Play more. Work for a while and then play for a while. Throw in a few naps.
- Push on the edges of our comfort zone. It is comfortable staying in our comfort zone – duh. Frequently just outside our current comfort zone are good things. Be willing to explore, even when it is a bit scary. The rewards are worth it.
- Ask for help. MiMi and I have learned that when she is scared or unsure, she should check in with me to see if everything is ok. This is also a great strategy for us. Know who our people are to check in with when we are feeling unsure.
I will keep you updated on other lessons from MiMi!