Lucas is a remarkable dog.
He’s well-trained, playful, and downright silly. He’s brilliant and loves to learn; his only limitations are physical ones. He’s happiest when he’s running, top speed, ears flapping, or wrestling with his brothers. He loves to have his ears rubbed and his butt scratched, and when you settle in to watch TV or read at night, he places his massive paws on your thighs as if to say, “I’m here for you, lady.” In short, Lucas is a gem.
But, unless you’re someone who’s spent much time at our house, you would never believe me. If your only encounter with Lucas was to stop by once to, say, drop something off, or you saw us walking down the sidewalk, or you saw us training in the park, you wouldn’t see any of those sparkling, gregarious, joyful parts of his personality.
Instead, you would see a nervous, skittish, possibly snarling and lunging, unfriendly dog.
Or, you wouldn’t even see us at all because we would’ve spotted you, done an about-face, and hauled off the other direction!
What you wouldn’t see, though, is the miracle behind the fact that we’re even out working in the park at all. You wouldn’t see the dog who was afraid of the TV, of plastic bags, of bikes and strollers and cars. You wouldn’t see the dog who couldn’t make a full lap around our city block without completely losing his head, snarling, snapping, and lunging at the end of his leash trying to get at the dog that was at the other end of the block.
You wouldn’t see the hours and hours we’ve spent working with him, the classes we’ve taken, the trainers we’ve hired. He’s spent more hours in formal training than Emmett and Cooper have combined. He just struggles with keeping his emotions in check when he gets scared, and you know what?
That’s ok. That’s why he has me.
I will always load up the treat bag/can of cheese/clicker/spray deterrent. I will always scan the horizon and reroute us as soon as we see a possible trigger. I will always champion him in the face of idiots who let their dogs run up to his face. And I will always be there to love him with my entire being, even in those moments when he loses it completely. Maybe especially in those moments because I know who he is at his core and I empathize with his fear.
So, what is it like to walk in my shoes?
It’s like walking a tightrope where one tiny misstep could mean a catastrophic fall. But, man, when you get to the other side, even if you wobble along the way, the rush of pride erases all that fear, all that risk, and sets us up to walk the rope again the next day.