Last September, our family adopted a 4 month-old mixed-breed puppy from the Rochester Humane Society. At first, Mollipop was as sweet as her name suggests. As she grew a bit older, though, she exhibited an excessive amount of hyperactive energy and was constantly in motion. She never paused to cuddle and wouldn’t nap unless we crated her. She often resorted to mischief to cope with her nervous energy, and we were convinced she didn’t know how to relax. Mollipop surfed the counters regularly, stealing anything she could reach. She shredded mail, homework, instruction manuals, etc. She destroyed three pairs of our daughters’ prescription glasses, a universal remote control, several shoes, and eventually some furniture. She lived for the game of chase that ensued after this naughty behavior in order to stop her, therefore creating a frustrating and expensive cycle of negative attention. We realized quickly we did not have the tools to train this puppy effectively. We were exhausted and desperate for some relief when we learned about Canine Academy.
I enrolled Mollipop in the Beginner training class and day-training twice a week. This combination of training definitely helped curb her destructive behavior, but I could tell we had bitten off more than we knew how to chew with this pup. You see, Mollipop was a 45 pound mix of pit-bull and boxer. In addition to being extraordinarily cute, she was very strong and very stubborn. I’d leave the one hour class exhausted from wrestling her into position. While I couldn’t deny her slow but steady progress, I knew we didn’t have the the kind of time necessary to devote to training to guarantee her success, and the inconsistent use of commands at home from my husband and our three teenage kids was terribly confusing for all of us. Mollipop’s training was admittedly an afterthought because of our crazy schedules, and her bad behavior was taking a negative toll on our family.
I felt bad for Mollipop. I had wanted to give her a loving home with a family who adored her. Instead, the chaos she created caused our stress level to go through the roof and we began to resent her because she seemed like constant work. So instead of enrolling her for her the Intermediate Class, we opted for the Off Leash training program.
At the time, it seemed like an exorbitant amount of money to spend on a dog. We had some very real concerns: Would she remember us? Would she be mad at us for sending her away for 6 weeks? Was Mollipop even capable of being a GREAT dog or was this a hopeless waste of money? If it worked, would she still be playful or would she lose her personality? We agreed the time and expense was worth the risk. We dropped her off in Oxford and wished the staff the best of luck. At 8 months old, we were pretty certain Mollipop was going to give their trainers a run for their money.
Week 1: I won’t lie - we didn’t miss Mollipop AT ALL. In fact, her absence felt pretty amazing. The house stayed clean. We didn’t miss the cold trips outside to take her potty. The stress level in the house lowered dramatically. The break from her mischief felt like a breath of fresh air.
Week 2: Mollipop started to make some pretty impressive photo appearances on Facebook via the Canine Academy blog. She was sitting. She was staying. She was obviously LISTENING to commands! This was very exciting to see. There was hope! She was doing it!
I called to check on her: I about fell out of my chair when Lindsay told me she was doing great and everyone loved working with her! She wasn’t driving them crazy?!!! Amazing.
Week 3: Photos of Mollipop all over town started to pop up on the blog! Videos demonstrated her ability to calmly stay in one spot even with the distraction of strangers and other dogs surrounding her! Our hope for our puppy quickly turned to PRIDE. We started to remember all of the fun things about Mollipop. How she was always so happy to see us. How much she made us laugh. How we named her because she would “pop” her little butt up in the air when she was excited. We began to miss her terribly and couldn’t wait to see her!
I called to check on her: She was ahead of schedule!!! How could this be possible?!! There’s no way we could have done this on our own!
Week 4: I now checked FB every day for more amazing photos and videos of our trained dog. She continued to surface - inside classrooms, stores, nursing homes, etc. But I noticed something very different now. Her ears appeared relaxed and borderline floppy. Her demeanor was calm and relaxed. It was obvious the work was no longer hard for her and she was enjoying herself. Our dog rocked and we couldn’t WAIT to bring her home!
I called to check on her: Mollipop has gained confidence and is beginning to understand that humans and training keep her safe. The feeling of “safe” is comforting so she looks forward to commands to avoid danger!
Week 5: Mollipop sightings continue via the Canine Academy Blog. We anxiously prepare for her arrival. We buy her a welcome home basket of toys and treats and talk about her incessantly.
I didn’t call to check on her: I know she's in GREAT hands and doing just fine!