Puppy classes

Dana and I got a puppy last summer. He’s a three year old terrier that doesn’t like other dogs. He was picked up as a stray in Arizona then shipped to Minnesota because Minnesotans like to adopt pets. It worked out for Milo, because now he’s home.


We thought with enough love and support he would get over his distaste for other four-legged fur babies, but after nearly 6 months we’ve made little progress. So we buckled and started going to doggy socialization classes.

Last week was the first class. We went into a room with seven other frightened pups from varying sizes and breeds. The largest was a Great Dane two stalls away. The loudest was a terrier in my posession.

Milo’s story is of course a mystery and always will be. We have no idea what horrors he went through in his short life before he found his way home. All we can do is figure out a way to rewrite the next chapter in his life to find some semblence of security and safety for him. The first step is to take him to class, build trust in his humans and hope he can one day play well with others.

When I step back I realize that the unfortunate pup isn’t the only one with socialization baggage. How many times have I thought and rethought and overthought a situation that happened six months ago trying to figure out if so-and-so thinks I’m an ungrateful jerk? How many times have I felt like a kicked dog and cowered in the corner because someone said something mean to me twenty years ago and I’m still dealing with insecurities?

Being a writer forces these questions on me every day. Is my writing good enough? Do I really have what it takes to be a successful writer? What does “successful writer” even mean? Maybe I should just give up. Find a quiet hobby where I don’t have to invite the criticism of smarter people and better writers. But that doesn’t really work. Life isn’t about keeping myself safe. If so, I’ll just end up barking and growling at anyone within a 20 foot radius of me.

Tonight is day 2 of the six-week course. I’ll give you an update in a month and let you know if my terrier is any less terrified. Hopefully my dog learns something, too.


  1. Our dog is also a rescue dog. That, she made abundantly clear from the start, did not mean she had to spend the rest of her life in grovelling gratitude – or even the next ten minutes, come to that. After three years with her she has finally sobered down as much as, I am told, her breed ever will, and I am forced to the conclusion that she has actually trained us. It has taken her a long time to acknowledge we are ‘for keeps’ and now she is very obedient: maybe mostly just for the quiet life, although I like to think there is love in it somewhere.


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