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October 29, 2020
I love pulling the curtain back to learn more about the true connection between pups and their humans.
This month, I reached out to Sarah and Trudy. While I didn't know much about about their background, I could tell they shared a special bond and thought it would be fun to learn more about our new Instagram friends all the way across the country in Pennsylvania.
Without further ado, let's get to know them!
I have been wanting a dog for a really long time. However, my husband wasn't so sure. A few years ago he decided to surprise me by agreeing to get a dog at around the holiday season. I had finished my dissertation a couple years prior and the timing was good for us to FINALLY do it! We spent quite a bit of time searching. I knew that I wanted a golden retriever. I have never had a golden retriever growing up or anything, but every golden retriever I had ever met while I was out on walks or out hiking was the sweetest dog I have ever met.
Interestingly, while we tried to adopt from a few different rescue organizations, we had a really hard time. One of the biggest barriers we found was that we live in a neighborhood that some rescue organizations said was unsuitable for one of their dogs. Our neighborhood is lower working class and has a high proportion of minorities. It was then that I realized that foster and rescue organizations have embedded racism. The excuse used was often that the yard was too small (we live in a townhome with an average sized yard for a townhome - about 10 by 50 feet) but I knew that these organizations were giving dogs to people who lived in posh downtown condos. It was really frustrating. So, we ended up going the breeder route.
We looked at a name day calendar on the day we went to meet her! On the way home, we were discussing names and I looked up a name day calendar. Gertrude was listed for that day, and something about it seemed so perfect. We say her name is Trudy McTrudester as a nod to her Scottish heritage (which her mom shares).
Trudy is so good at living in the moment. She teaches me to slow down and appreciate what's in front of me.
She is SO loving and SO gentle. She is genuinely excited to see me when I walk in the door - even if I've only been gone for 3 minutes. She is also sensitive and gets scared. She really FEELS the world strongly - all its goods and bads - and that really speaks to me.
We joke that I'm a dog person and she's a people dog (for me, dogs > people while for her people > dogs). Otherwise, we're so similar! My husband especially jokes that her stubborn steak comes from me ;)
Cuddling. she is the best cuddler EVER.
It's so much better. It brings me such joy to spoil her and she makes me feel so needed and loved. I can't imagine life without her (I'm so sad just thinking about it!), but she's definitely taught me that I'm more of a dog person than I thought :)
We wake up and relax with coffee (me) / stick (her) by the firepit. Then we toss some hiking gear into the car and go to a new hiking spot (ideally one with a stream for her). She would find a good mud pit to roll in before we went home. We'd end the way we began - next to the fire with wine (me) and a stick (her).
She does have a superpower! The amazing ability to make everyone smile.
The first time she got into a pit of mud I nearly died laughing. This white floof rolling around in mud living her best. damned. life. She zoomed all around and had the biggest smile. She's done that a few times since (she seems to have a built in gravitational pull toward mud), but nothing beats that first time!
Walmart greeter. She always wants to say hi to everyone!
We taught her how to say please (she just pulls her paw up into a begging motion - not something she naturally does) and it's so cute. But since we worked on it so much, she will sometimes combine it with other tricks (like balancing treats on her nose).
I somehow knew within a month or two after we got Trudy that she was dealing with anxiety. She has BIG feelings, but they hadn't manifested in the way that anxiety does for many dogs (such as separation anxiety, reactivity, or aggression.) Instead, when she gets overwhelmed, she'll completely stop and refuse to go further (on walks for example). This used to be so bad that even a strong gust of wind could stop us in our tracks. No amount of food motivation will help her in those moments. We even got lunchmeat slices to toss in font of her to try to get her moving again (and we've been vegetarian for over 20 years) to no avail! She also had no ability to settle in new situations (again, even with food treats to try to redirect).
When she was a puppy everyone (including our trainers) insisted she would grow out of it, and I always had my big doubts. But we kept taking her to training and practicing, practicing, practicing. We went through puppy training, level one training, in-home training, and multiple one-on-one sessions. Finally we visited a behaviorist who is now using a combination of medication and training to help. And my god has it helped!! She still has trouble sometimes, but she clearly feels so much better and more confident now.
As a non-dog owner, I used to think anxiety drugs for dogs were a bit ridiculous. Unless they were being abused or something, what could they possibly have to be anxious about?? My thinking has come a long way on that - I don't know why I didn't think of it as a physiological/brain chemistry issue just like with us, but I wasn't thinking that way. I still strongly believe that drugs should be a last resort and that we should do everything we can do with positive reinforcement and training, but sometimes it just isn't enough. I'm so grateful for our vet, behaviorist, and trainers who have helped her feel more confident and ready to take on the world. She's still a sensitive soul, but so much more brave than she was before.
If you'd like to follow along on more of Trudy's adventures, you can find her here:
And if you'd like a chance for your pup to be featured in an upcoming post, shoot me an email and let me know at jenny @ wagtheory.com!
My heart aches to think that such a loving and fit family could not be placed with a rescue pup. It is yet another important reminder how racism and discrimination shows up in our daily lives where you might not even realize it, and I'm so thankful to Sarah for bringing awareness to the situation. The pet industry notoriously lacks diversity, and any and all actions toward inclusivity will help us turn the tides. From supporting Black owned pet businesses to calling out issues like this for awareness, it is our responsibility to make change so that all people who love animals, regardless of race or geography, can share the amazing bond of a pup.
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