My sister, Rita, and I chose a Labrador Retriever because of their good nature and also knowing they are an active dog. On March 22nd our Chocolate Lab was born and we picked him out of a litter of 11 because he seemed to be the most laid back of the bunch. Little did we know what lay ahead!
Arlo was seven weeks old when we took him home on May 10th and ten days later he was diagnosed with puppy strangle. Within a time span of three days he was unable to walk and we certainly thought we would lose him to this disease, which attacks the immune system. But Arlo turned out to be a fighter. He survived his ordeal and six weeks later started making up for lost time.
Being home all day, I innocently thought that training him to be a good puppy would be relatively easy because Labs are smart, docile dogs. We had put his kennel in the front hallway and made a makeshift barricade, so that I could also attend to other things without having to watch him constantly and at the same time give him some freedom without having to put him in his kennel. Well, after chewing up the walls and baseboards in the hallway, he began ripping up newspapers, magazines, toilet paper and anything else he could get his baby teeth into. We’d have to keep his leash on in the house in order to catch him. It was time to get Arlo into puppy obedience class. We wanted him to pay attention, listen and obey us. When the eight-week session began Arlo was five months old and when he graduated by the skin of his teeth we were disappointed because Arlo was still pretty much doing his own thing. Nevertheless we persisted with home training because we still had hope that, in time, we could get Arlo under control. Fat chance!
In the house Arlo did not have a moments rest and therefore neither did we. He was always restless and on the go, he never laid down for a nap unless he was put in his kennel. And putting him in the kennel was a feat on its own so cookie bribes were always needed to get him to cooperate. I was constantly telling him ‘off’ (the couch, counter, me), no biting, no jumping, no barking … On the long run he was more in his kennel than out of it, or we’d put him on the front porch with his leash between the door.
Our daily walks consisted of his jumping on neighbours (who were very understanding) and their dogs whom we met on our walk. Arlo also wanted to run after the cars, trucks, and buses that passed us while we were walking. He tugged at the leash all the time and seemed oblivious to the choker chain, even when his tongue turned blue. And Arlo loved to play ball in the backyard at his own terms – he had to be bribed with treats to let go of the ball and I did finally get him to sit. However he cultivated more bad habits like jumping up to get the ball out of my hand and nipping my arm and tearing my clothes, but I figured that was all part of the training process. He had great fun running and playing and I enjoyed throwing the ball. That didn’t last long.
Arlo was getting bigger, stronger and his new teeth were very sharp! He was ‘nippy’ outside when we were playing ball but he brought his bad habit into the house. At first we thought it was a phase, but it got worse. My arms were black and blue and at one point Arlo went into attack mode. Gone was the jumping and nipping, in came the attack and don’t-let-go mode!! After it happened twice on one day I was afraid of the sweet docile puppy we had adopted, who was now seven months!
Arlo was neutered on November 12th . We discussed his bad behaviour and my injuries with our vet who recommended we start a one-on-one training program with Arlo immediately since this was not acceptable behaviour. The bruises on my arms were still noticeable and in the meantime a sprained finger and knee were added to the list! I told our vet that we were at the end of our rope and had already started regretting our decision to adopt a puppy and contemplated giving him away. The vet suggested we contact Jeff at Sit Happens.
November 15 th was our first meeting with Jeff who was subjected to the full extent of the “Arlo experience.” Imagine our surprise when Jeff told us that Arlo was not a lost cause or a hopeless case! The method Jeff introduced us to was simple to follow. There is no shouting, leash yanking, pinching choker chain collars. We were so reassured by Jeff and his fail-proof system that we immediately became Sit Happens members for life.
Arlo’s first training took place one week later. I dreaded having to wait one week but was also relieved to know that there was light at the end of the tunnel. Arlo last dragged me into a ditch – literally – on November 20th. We had a private 90-minute training session with Jeff on November 22nd and the next morning was the very first time since we got Arlo home that he was sitting quietly next to me at the breakfast table.
Goodbye to the days of bruises, sprains, frustration, restlessness, raising your voice, cookie bribes, chasing vehicles, barking and being dragged through ditches! Hello to the days of peace, quiet, joy and rest! And all that happened in a matter of just a day. Arlo is a very happy puppy now and only in his kennel at night or if we’re running an errand. He’s very relaxed in the house playing with his toys or snoozing on his place. We truly believe that Sit Happens has literally saved his life.
At the last obedience class in December, nine-month old Arlo was off leash the entire time. Another first for us!
Although Rita, Arlo and I still have much to learn, we have peace of mind that we are able to control any situation that may arise. Our weekly training sessions for the rest of Arlo’s life are lots of fun for all of us. We took Arlo to relatives over the Christmas holidays and they were amazed that he stayed on his place in the living room while we were dining in the kitchen. Yes, Arlo has come a long way in a very short time span and we feel that a miracle has happened!
Sit Happens is our miracle and we wholeheartedly recommend Jeff to anyone who wants a dog they can live with.