My Training Inspiration

I had half of this post written thinking I knew who my training inspiration was. I wrote about Mauja and Atka and how their pyr nature pushed me to be a better trainer. I wrote how they forced me to learn new techniques, change my habits, and get creative. I went on and on about them until it hit me: they weren’t my first training inspiration.

Kaeto was.

If you’ve been around here awhile, you know a bit about Kaeto. Kaeto was the first dog my husband and I got together – he’s what truly made us a family. After moving across the country and away from family, we knew we couldn’t be without a dog. So, we headed to the local shelters and immediately fell in love with Kaeto.

It's Dog or Nothing

His different colored eyes, his freckles, and his half floppy ears – I couldn’t resist that face. He was extremely malnourished and had obviously had zero training. At about a year of age, he didn’t know how to sit or even his own name. He came home with us later that day.

Over the next few weeks, we slowly started to realize the extent of his “issues”. While the shelter told us he wasn’t leash-reactive, he definitely was. They also told us he was great with other dogs, which he wasn’t. He was far too excited and didn’t know how to handle his emotions, which often turned into aggression. He also had terrible separation anxiety and chewed his way through a metal crate in less than a half hour.

I quickly realized why he was relinquished by not one, but two families. However, I knew he wasn’t going anywhere. He was ours and ours to stay.

It's Dog or Nothing
If he couldn’t sit on my lap, he would nap like this 😉

Since we had just moved and were only supposed to be in that location for 5 months, I didn’t get a job. This gave me ample time to work with Kaeto. I knew how to teach basic commands, but Kaeto’s needs went far past that. I can’t even remember the number of books I read and hours I spent online researching and learning.

We were out and about every day. Kaeto taught me how to exercise a dog on a bike and just how much energy a dog can have. He taught me how to be patient. He taught me how to get out of my comfort zone. He taught me more than I can possibly say.

Kaeto lived with us for less than a year before he very unexpectedly passed away. I still remember that day like it happened in slow motion and am tearing up as I write this.

It's Dog or Nothing
Kaeto and Mauja <3

Thanks to Kaeto, I learned how to work on so many skills, including leash-reactivity, over-excitement, separation anxiety, and overall socialization. He pushed me to my limits and there were days I cried and cried because I was so overwhelmed.

But thanks to Kaeto, I now have the confidence to take on “tough cases”. I’ve built a foundation for dealing with difficult behavioral issues. I can help save more dogs.

So, here’s to Kaeto – my true training inspiration. We miss you every day <3

14 comments on “My Training Inspiration”

  1. First I’m so sorry he passed away unexpectedly -that’s horrible. Thank you for sharing this post as there are so many of us with similar experiences. I have two dogs that are leash reactive. Shermie at about week #2 after being adopted also presented his true colors on leash and there we were – living for the first time with a leash reactive dog… I get it… lots of management for sure.

  2. Thank you for sharing his story. And I love the pic of him curled up in your legs. We had a very special dog pass away too soon. It’s nuts to realize the dogs we have now have been with us longer than she was, but she left such a mark! I’m sorry you lost Kaeto, but know he’ll always be with you.

  3. It sounds like he was a wonderful inspiration! I’m sorry that your time with him was so short, but I’m glad he left such a lasting impression on your life!

  4. There is something so special about needy dogs. They push us beyond what we thought we were capable of and even in the short time you had Kaeto you obviously learned so much. I admire your commitment to him, though I’m so sorry your time with him was so short and ended suddenly.

  5. What a great post, Kelsie! Like you, I consider my first dog, Chewie, as my inspiration… he was anti-social, leash-reactive, overprotective and stubborn beyond measure. He taught me so much about patience, consistency, dog-safety and dog-behavior. While he didn’t make much progress in some areas (stubborn!), he came a long way and I became a better dog-owner for all the time we had together. I could NOT have rescued 2 Pyrs without the lessons I learned from Chewie.

  6. What a beautiful story, & a wonderful tribute to Kaeto! He was so beautiful, that sweet face. He was lucky to have found you, although brief you gave him all the love, Patience, and understanding he needed to leave this earth knowing he was loved,valued and appreciated. Kudos to you for saving him!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  7. What a sweet dog, and so sorry he suddenly passed away. It is always hard, but unexpected makes it even worse. I think each of us dogs has inspired Mom to get better and better at training. We all train her but let her think she is training us!

  8. I’m so sorry you lost him so unexpectedly. I can only imagine. I love that you described that experience as a foundation to give you the confidence. It sounds like Kaeto was a lot like my Lucas, and those dogs change you forever. Thanks for sharing such a personal story.

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