Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Minneapolis, MN
Submit Photo: 4
Photo Submissions 29 Times in 28 Posts
Mario's Therapy Dog
Today, I was watching Mario and Nino play (we are finally at that point), and I couldn't help but think of the impact Nino's happiness and fearlessness have had on Mario's life.
Mario has been a plain old nervous pooch since an unfortunate incident with a Shih Tzu at age 3. Before that, he had no issues with other dogs, no problems with loud noises, and no fear of the vet or groomer. That incident meant we couldn't take him to our usual dog friendly hangouts. It just wasn't fun for him.
There was a bit of guilt in bringing Nino home. Mario does NOT like other dogs. The first few months were touch and go with lots of tears, us not trusting the boys together because we were afraid it would end up with Mario injuring Nino or Nino pestering him to the point of him shutting down emotionally.
The 4th of July was our turning point, though. Nino was unphased by the fireworks, and upon seeing how shaken Mario was, he went and stood next to him. No touching, no pestering, nothing. Just protection and the comfort of having a calm dog in the area. Since then, we have had issues with a touchy smoke detector, storms galore, and more fireworks. With Nino setting an example, Mario is no longer shaking and panting during these situations, but going about his life as normal. He can go to the pet store and the vet without nerves, all as long as his "therapy dog" is alongside him.
The owner of the more timid dog in our class told us her dog's older brother would always greet other dogs before she would to show her that they are safe. It's amazing how emotionally in tune these animals are.
We thought fear and reactivity were Mario's new normal, and for 6 years, they were. Nino still elicits grumbles and growls (what are little brothers for?), but the change has been incredible in my little old man. When we brought Nino home, we expected resentment, but we got something completely different.