As we near the one year mark of having taken on the challenge of rehabilitating a seriously damaged dog I've been beating up on myself for my role. The costs of living with Finna go beyond food, veterinary care, and other basics--including training. There is a large emotional cost to living with this dog. Because we have Finna we do not have friends over--not that we were ever social butterflies holding parties every weekend but now no visitors. In fact when a friend does drop by we keep them outside the fence because Finna is not trustworthy. We used to take off for an occasional weekend and take vacations but that's not an option with Finna in our lives. It used to be that the whole family would go to my mother-in-law's house to lend a hand with whatever she needed. But Finna can't go with us and can't be left alone for more than seven hours so only my husband and daughter go to visit her (it's a three hour round trip). Our lives, to a large extent, revolve around Finna and her problems.
Every member of the family pays the price for life with Finna and I'm well aware of that which is why I've been to trying to take as much of the Finna care and training upon myself as possible. What I was forgetting is that we've all chosen to keep her. We've been holding regular family meetings about her fate since we first realized how damaged she was/is. Every time we've held one of these meetings about Finna's fate we've all refused to give up on her. I've been forgetting that and it's had some bad consequences.
The more I've tried to spare the rest of the family from Finna the more important I've made myself in Finna's world. In fact I'd made myself so important that I'd become Finna's chief resource to guard. It was developing into a serious problem; a problem about which I asked our trainer. Her recommendation was that I stop being the center of Finna's universe and that the rest of the family take my place. It's so obvious when you think about it but so hard to see when you're in the middle of it. We implemented the suggestion at once and it has been very good for Finna. As she realizes that others can also meet her needs the extent to which she resource guards me has diminished significantly. And with that diminishment she's also becoming more relaxed. Knowing that every member of her family is committed to her and her needs is incredibly important for Finna. She is a dog that grew up believing that human beings were untrustworthy and unreliable.
Finna remains very much that high performance car that I described in an earlier post. She has gotten better, her brakes and steering don't start getting dicey until almost 50 mph now but she's still designed to be running at 120 mph so there's a very long way to go. And it very much feels like anytime we get one thing fixed it reveals half a dozen other problems. There are many days that I despair of ever getting her to a functional state where she's reliable and there are many days that I see significant improvement and think that we really might succeed in rehabilitating this damaged dog.
Next month will mark the one year anniversary of her adoption. But I'm not looking that far ahead. I'm just waiting to see what tomorrow brings.