I apologize that it has taken a week for a new post. I am at a loss for words to truly describe this journey but I will try my best. I was not prepared for the range of emotion, the wonderful moments of joy and pride paired with feeling sad and detached. I have a new respect for these military men and women, their wives, husbands, and children. I am now even more passionate about my vision seeing it transpire into a reality.
The last day of ‘training’ we planned on a long evening at Jamey’s home, with Shawna, Cooper and Abby. Abby had not yet met Tiger (so much pended on this meeting) but they both were very familiar with each others scent and things. We were all nervous and excited. We took the time (about 30 minutes) to properly introduce them. They immediately were aware but not threatening, both dogs are very passive and non dominant. Tiger and Abby both have such similar personalities that they will wind up having a very good relationship! I can say that after a week of living together, Shawna reported this morning that Abby actually laid down right next to and on Tiger and took a short nap together.
My Uncle Mike Barnett died this week at his home in Little Rock Arkansas. He was a Marine Corps Sgt. in Vietnam and while he never told stories or talked about his time there, he was incredibly proud to be a Marine. The family has asked that donations, in lieu of flowers, go to our organization Stiggy’s Dogs, or another Veteran organization. We have received donations already, and they will be used to provide therapy dogs for all Veterans and their families. My Wife Jennifer and I are in Jacksonville, North Carolina at Camp Lejeune delivering a dog to a Marine Sgt. who served with Ben so we will not be able to attend the funeral which makes this an incredibly emotional time for us. As we complete this final stage of the last year of work, we are even more motivated to put the support and funding that we have received to good use by tirelessly helping Marines, Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen from our armed forces. Thank you for all who have donated, and keep checking back with us to see how your support is making a difference in the lives of our Veterans who have served and now need a helping hand.
Thank you Uncle Mike. Make sure you and Ben don’t drink all the beer before I get there!
I think everyone was a little nervous for this meeting, it was a big step. Tiger was going to meet Jamey’s wife, Shawna and their son Cooper for the first time. I talked with Shawna earlier that day to explain how tonight will go and I could hear the emotion in her voice. It brought out even more of the reality of this situation, and how much this affects the whole family.The best part of the conversation was that Shawna was nervous that she was going to do something that might ruin what we had already taught Tiger. Her love and determination to make this work is exactly why it will work!
Jamey met us outside when we pulled up. Tiger and Jamey went for a walk, to get reacquainted with each other before Jamey introduced him to the family. Jamey admitted when he walked away with Tiger that he was nervous, which is precisely why we wanted him to take Tiger for a walk! Joe and I went inside to talk to Shawna and Cooper as we waited for Jamey and Tiger to return. The walk did wonders….you could see it on Jamey’s face the second they came into the house. Chills ran up my arm at that moment, just visually seeing the affects Tiger is making already!
The first time you introduce your dog to your home is a great opportunity to set the limitations/rules, before you need to correct them. By that I mean, never just open the door and let the dog plow right through the house! For Tigers first visit we asked that just Jamey be in the home. Jamey’s wife Shawna ( son Cooper and their dog Abby) has been very patient through this process!
We had Tiger ‘sit’ at the front door until he (and everyone) was calm. We walked in first and then invited Tiger in. Now this took some time to get Tiger to calm down, he was excited to see Jamey, but also excited to get to those new scents that were coming from inside. One of them was the smell of Bacon they had for dinner, this was the best place in the world for Tiger!!! (Did they do that on purpose?)
It is very important when bringing a new dog home to your environment, to walk your dog around the neighborhood before entering your personal domain. This is precisely what Jamey and Tiger did today. We met in his neighborhood down the street and when Jamey was walking towards us (at about 20 feet away) Tiger recognized him. Tigers body language changed: ears perked, tail mid high and wagging. They were both happy to see each other.
I explained to Jamey the need to walk the dog around your neighborhood, so Tiger can smell all the smells, listen to the sounds and get to know his new environment. Jamey and Tiger were practicing their loose leash walking from the day before, but this time in a setting with more distractions. I handed Jamey the leash, said goodbye to Tiger and Him, turned around and walked away. As I turned the corner, before they would be out of sight, I looked over my shoulder, like a mom watching her child leave on the school buss and doesn’t want him to know she is watching. Well, Tiger knew, he was turning to look for me. Which was all the more important of why Jamey needed to walk Tiger through this himself. This was another step toward building trust.
They took a good long, hot walk around. I watched them from afar as they approached down the street. Tiger and Jamey, step to step. As soon as Tiger saw me, he broke his ‘connection’ with Jamey and came toward me. I then immediately took Jamey and Tiger through some commands and training. Tiger needed to put his focus back on Jamey and respect him as his owner. Jamey went through basic commands with hand signals. Some commands took a couple of tries, but Tiger and Jamey worked through it. The video is of Jamey having Tiger ‘Sit’, then lay ‘Down’ and ‘Stay’. Tiger is to ‘Stay’ put until Jamey says “come”. The first try Tiger ran to me-not acceptable- however, it only took one more try for Tiger to follow the command from Jamey.
Another good day! Tomorrow we introduce Tiger to Jamey’s home. One step closer, and soon it will be Tigers home too.
"The experiences and lessons I learned from working at a Humane
Society, motivated my future. I have spent the past 4 years trying to
make a difference. Dogs listen, love us unconditionally, are loyal and
can be life saving. I am passionate about my goal of helping one dog at
a time, and now one soldier and family at a time. I am proud to honor
Ben and determined to carry on his legacy of helping others through
Stiggys Dogs." Jennifer PetreFounder - Stiggy's Dogs
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