Life With Yuna -
6 Month Update:
Watching Your Mindset As A Dog Owner

Please never forget, I was a proud dog.
All I need, is a bit of time to adjust.

February 28th, 2019

Wow, has it been six months already?

I’ve already spent half a year with Yuna?

What seemed so slow at the beginning quickly geared up… and now not only has it been six months, but it’s already March 2019?!

Straight up speeding through 2019!

I’m glad that I stop and do these monthly updates because it gives me a chance to reflect on the month that just sped by.

Anyway, today I wanted to share and reflect on a mindset I believe all dog owners need to adopt.

Throughout 2019 so far, I’ve been struggling with this and as a result it hasn’t done very much good to the bond between Yuna and me.

What exactly is this mindset?

We’ll reveal it shortly… but first off, a brutally honest short story.

Back when I rescued Yuna on September 1st, 2018, the rescue organization I worked with gave me a bunch of checklists, guides, and documents to help me get started with caring for Yuna.

Recently, I did a decluttering of my desk.

Looked at everything on, in, and around my desk and filtered out things I was sure I wouldn’t need.

One of the things I checked was Yuna’s folder–I use this to store her important documents, health records, microchip ID etc.

Inside was also the welcome packet I received from the rescue.

Among this packet, I found a little flyer. It contained just a short little message, essentially thanking me for adopting a dog from their rescue.

I had definitely seen this flyer before–I had put my initials on the flyer in my own handwriting as proof of that.

But I may not have seen the flip side of that flyer.

On the other side of the flyer was something that really brought me back to Earth after I read through it.

It was a short poem. It went like this:

Now I have arrived at your home,
Everything is strange, and I don’t feel good.

Do not feel impatient
If I don’t sleep in my new basket.
Yesterday, I slept on a stone floor.

Do not be terrified if I gobble up my food.
Yesterday, I had to do it to survive.

Do not get angry if I pee on the floor.
Yesterday, it did not matter.

Do not be sad if I am afraid of your loving hand.
Yesterday, I did not have one.

Have patience with me, it’s your world,
But not yet mine.

If I trust you, I can give you the greatest
Gift I have to give…
My heart.

Please never forget, I was a proud dog.
All I need, is a bit of time to adjust.

This poem really hit home.

Not because I really identified with most of the scenarios presented in the poem. I’ve always noted that Yuna was surprisingly well-behaved the moment she stepped in our apartment–and there was no crazy gobbling, no peeing on the floor, nothing destructive at all.

The little stanza about being “afraid of your loving hand” was VERY applicable to Yuna and me.

I guess I had always expected a Lab to be curious, jumpy, and almost uncontrollable, but Yuna quickly challenged those stereotypes.

I have said this in multiple articles by now, but where strangers outside may only see the extraverted, friendly side of Yuna, at home she is almost too tame to even be a dog sometimes!

Many times, when Yuna and I are interacting, a little thing can throw her off and frighten her.

Yes, this includes new toys and new objects. But it also includes me just bringing a treat to her nose a little too suddenly.

I recall one time this month where I was trying to get Yuna to jump up and grab a treat from out of my hand.

This clumsy little girl jumped and her nose crashed right into the treat. This really threw her off and scared her.

In fact, this scared her so much that she was unwilling to do anymore of… well, anything.

Even if I held a treat right in front of her, or dropped it right in front of her and walked away, she didn’t touch it. She didn’t care that the treat was free, she wanted no part of it anymore.

She instantly went from playful to reserved.

It is in these situations that I feel the most frustrated with Yuna.

I had always envisioned having a fearless dog who was willing to try anything. Would play with any toy, anytime, anywhere. Would give everything a curious sniffing, and would never back down from learning something new or tackling a new challenge.

Yet, there I was with Yuna. In those moments I am so hot inside I feel like I could explode any moment.

“I just want a dog who isn’t so scared of everything.”

And yes, at times, I lose it. I throw a treat on the floor, I yell, I incorrectly use her crate as punishment, and I slam my own bedroom door shut, all out of frustration and anger.

But it only serves to scare her more.

And that brings me to the mindset shift.

As the poem suggests, I believe the number one mindset any dog owner needs to adopt is one of patience.

Perhaps this is especially true for rescue dog owners. The last line of the poem says “Please never forget, I was a proud dog. All I need, is a bit of time to adjust.”

Now I believe every dog owner knows this. Every dog owner knows that they need patience to care for a canine. Every rescue dog owner knows their dog was once abandoned and may have had a dark history.

Yes, I think any dog owner you talk to knows, in that moment, that having patience is paramount in dog ownership.

But that is challenged whenever frustrations and obstacles come in the way.

In moments when you are angry and emotional, you often make incorrect, rash decisions that could screw things up for good.

In those moments, patience is paper thin. Lose control of your emotions and you end up like me, yelling at Yuna for something that really isn’t her fault, and once again frightening her.

Ultimately, all that does is set us back another few steps from helping Yuna build up her confidence.

You see, it’s one thing to say that you have patience.

It’s another to consistently act according to that, and a dog like Yuna is really testing me in this regard in a way I had never foreseen.

I cannot measure patience in hours, days, or even weeks. Certain tricks (such as sit pretty) have taken me months of work with Yuna to get to even a basic level.

Other long term things, like helping Yuna grow more confident and less frightened of her surroundings, I project will take years of patience to even make a few inches of progress.

These past six months, I’ve screwed up a lot when it comes to maintaining my patience.

I need to be more consistent and forgiving of Yuna’s shortcomings, especially when they don’t align with my previous assumptions of the typical Labrador temperament.

These things are not Yuna’s fault. They are part of her personality, and also perhaps a byproduct of anything negative she experienced in her first two and a half years of life.

I can’t change what’s already happened to her. All I can do is adopt the right mindset going forward.

“Do not be sad if I am afraid of your loving hand. Yesterday, I did not have one.”

I do long for the day where Yuna stops cowering altogether whenever my hand approaches to pet her.

Or the day where she won’t be psyched out by an accidental boop on the nose.

To get there, I need to be more consistent with my patience.

It could not have been at a more opportune time that I found this poem right at the half year mark.

As I begin the second half of a full year with Yuna, I know what to focus on and how I need to change to bring out the best in Yuna.

I’m constantly learning, constantly listening to my dog and adjusting myself for the better.

Make sure you follow Yuna’s Instagram throughout her journey. Every two days, we post a free dog care tip. Spreading what we know and learn to the dog community.