Yesterday was the annual Pet Walk, a fundraiser for the Hawaiian Humane Society.
And it was another year that my dogs stayed home.
It’s not that we don’t support the nonprofit’s efforts. We certainly do — and we donated to a friend’s fundraising team.
It’s just that our little Opae isn’t the best around other dogs. And we didn’t want to stress out her — and the hundreds of other pooches there.
Unlike Sunny and Indy, both of whom I socialized as puppies at dog parks and on neighborhood walks, Opae was an only dog for years, not spending much time around other dogs. She was rescued from the scrub brush somewhere in Waipahu or ‘Ewa as a little pup, and she still has some of those survival instincts well in tact.
When I met my husband just about two years ago, we had to figure out how to encourage our dogs to get along. It wasn’t easy. Indy has no concept of personal space and Opae, well, doesn’t like to be crowded. And it didn’t help that my two dogs were infiltrating Opae’s home — and she wasn’t used to sharing.
But, after a few somewhat stressful weeks that included a small scrap between Indy and Opae, the dogs all found a way to get along. So much so that Indy and Opae are now practically inseparable!
Socializing adult dogs isn’t easy. Dogs are the most receptive between the three and 20 weeks old, as puppies are much more open to playing and interacting with large groups of dogs. But as dogs get older, they’re far less open to meeting and playing with unfamiliar dogs, often shying away or growling and snapping at pooches that venture too close.
But I’m committed to socializing our little shy Opae — and the goal is to be part of next year’s Pet Walk!
I don’t have much of a game plan right now, aside from participating in smaller dog walks and slowly introducing her to new dogs. But stay tuned and follow #OpaeInTraining on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter! Because we’re going to do this!
I better stock up on dog treats…