Back in my riding days, I used to always end up with horses that had a workable demeanor, yet they were always testing me as an authority figure. "Why?" I used to wonder to myself. "Why can I just have one horse that is easy to work with?" The reality is that every horse that I've ever ridden, was preparing me for one the greatest additions to my life.
Three months ago, my family and I adopted our sweet Shiloh. She is a two year old Lab-Rottweiler mix with a loving and spunky nature. Despite that she has a wonderful personality, Shiloh also has a dominant side, and will put you to the test to see how much she can get away with.
The first month that Shiloh was with us, everyday felt like a battle. She would pull like an ornery horse, lunge at passing dogs/people, bark aggressively and her anxiety levels were off the chart. No matter how hard my family and I tried, nothing made her comfortable. At one point all of us were at our wits end, and questioning if she was truly the right fit for us. Then amidst the chaos, something emerged that was stronger than our frustration. It was the unconditional love that we had for Shiloh, and the unconditional love that she gave us in return. Therefore that motivated us to take authority over her, but to do it with love.
Shiloh has responded well to our authoritative but loving approach. She has learned that the world is not out to get her, has more happiness than anxiety now, and is more confident in meeting new people and dogs. There are moments when she slips through the cracks, but responds more attentively and less intensely when corrected.
However Shiloh has positively impacted my family individually, so I can only speak for myself. Shiloh has taught me that when I take authority with a loving approach, I have patience in my leadership skills, and is it better to be gentle but firm when giving corrections. I am still learning how to stay calm in stressful situations, and setting healthy boundaries. However I am a work in progress, Shiloh is a work in progress, our bond is stronger than ever and I have no doubt that we will continue to figure these things out together.
Shiloh has been a tremendous blessing, I do not know if she will move on with me as my future unfolds, or stay with my parents. However she will always have a special place in my heart, and I will always remember how she has taught me to take authority with love. I used to believe that taking authority had everything to do with being firm and standing my ground. At times, I thought that mean had to be included. However I have come to realize that despite it is important to be strong in taking authority, it makes all difference when love is involved instead of harshness.
Therefore if any of you reading this have a rescue dog, or know of someone who has a rescue dog, don't give up if they are testing you. What they really want is an alpha who will take authority, but will love them unconditionally. For all you know, they will reveal lessons that will positively change your life. Thank you for reading and may you find blessings in all that you do.