I am a volunteer dog walker at a local animal shelter and this past June I fell in love with Charlotte (~1 year old Vizsla mix) and had to bring her home. She was super affectionate and adorable and I knew we were meant to be.
My first big challenge was getting Charlotte in my car. She was not willing. I finally got her in and started driving. It was a 95 degree day so I rolled down our windows what I though was a safe amount, and she JUMPED OUT OF CAR WINDOW. It was one of the scariest moments of my life – we were close to a busy road and she could have easily been hit by a car. After somehow managing to catch her and get her back in the car we made our way home, just a few miles away. I was really shook up and yelling at myself for being a terrible owner to give her the opportunity to jump out of the car – at this moment I knew that maybe I’ve made a mistake.
We got home and Charlotte was not comfortable. She wouldn’t willingly go up the stairs and in the house, and she was circling the car in the garage for a really long time. She was really scared. She would not go in her kennel even with very high reward treats, and I was afraid to leave her out because I didn’t know if she would destroy my house. So, for the next week, I was a prisoner in my own home because I couldn’t leave her for fear of what might happen. I ended up getting a tall gate so I could keep her in my kitchen/front entry area, which she still didn’t like. I was crying on a daily basis – for about the first week and a half, thinking I made a huge mistake taking on a fearful dog that I didn’t know how to make comfortable. I cried to my mom on the phone, what have I done?! I didn’t want to take her back to the shelter! I wanted my life back. I researched all kinds of training techniques online – I was willing to try anything – from shock collars to prong collars – nothing seemed right – I didn’t know what to do. After a visit to our new vet (who Charlotte did NOT like – she freaked out and had to be muzzled) my vet recommended Kari and I called her right away. I’m sure I was crying on the phone with her. I was in desperate need of HELP.
I met with Kari and she quickly knew that Charlotte was an anxious and fearful reservation dog. She came from Houston and was not really used to people and not used to being indoors. Charlotte had no confidence around most people and being inside, now she is being forced to deal with both. We had a journey ahead of us. Kari suggested some immediate changes which were HUGE. Anti-anxiety medication in conjunction with behavior modification helped right away. I changed her diet and started giving her a job to keep her mind busy. I started to notice a change in Charlotte pretty quickly. She was gaining confidence. She was getting comfortable. I knew we were on the right path.
We just finished our 3rd session with Kari and I’m SO happy to share that Charlotte is a completely different dog from when I first brought her home. She is happy, comfortable, confident, puppyish, playful, extremely affectionate, and THE LOVE OF MY LIFE! I couldn’t imagine life without her- She is doing so great! She still has her moments of being fearful – she is not a fan of sprinklers or the dishwasher, but we can definitely deal with that. We have come so far since just 3 months ago when I thought I would have to take her back to the shelter?! I even took my 1st vacation and left Charlotte with an in-home dog sitter a couple weekends ago, and she did great. I thought vacations were a thing of the past! I am so proud of my Charlotte, and I don’t know what I would have done without the direction we received from Kari – truly priceless. Kari’s method of positive reinforcement is the ONLY way to go. I am positive that nothing else would have worked.
Kari, THANK YOU – I don’t know what I would have done without you. You are EXCEPTIONAL at what you do.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Jamie R. and Charlotte