As A Dog Parent, If I Don’t Ask For Your Opinion, I Probably Don’t Want It

We’ve all been there. That morning at the dog park or on a walk when someone says, “you know, you should really get another kind of leash”. “Your dog’s nails are too long”. “So who’s walking who?”. You should really learn how to control your dog”. “Why do you let your dog walk in front of you? Haven’t you ever taken him to obedience school?” “You know, it wouldn’t hurt if you let your dog off leash. What? He would run away? Oh, you must not have trained him early.” I could go on and on.

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I’m not saying that I know everything there is about dogs, training or nutrition. But I am saying that if I don’t ask for your opinion, well, I probably don’t want it. Did I say that out loud?

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My dogs have taught me many things, one of which is to go with the flow. When I first rescued them from the shelter, they were the first dogs I had ever “picked out”. So I made it my goal to learn how to take care of them the best way possible. I asked for people’s guidance when I took Brickle to the dog park for the first time and he was uncontrollable. They were kind, they offered me assistance, and as he grew up, we laughed later about how he had improved. Those exchanges were welcome, asked for, and positive. The guidance I received was out of a place of concern and love, not judgement. And judgement is what I take offense to.

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You see, I have come to realize that there is no right and no wrong way to parent your dog. For things like nutrition, I certainly have my own strong opinions on dog food and health. However, unless someone asks me specifically for my opinion or experience, I would never tell them that they were wrong in the way they feed their dog. Why? First off, not everyone can afford the “best” food, or do they have access to fresh ingredients where they live. I never thought about this aspect until traveling the entire United States. There were areas where grocery stores were hours away, and even then, choices were limited. How was I to judge how people were able to feed their dogs? Do I believe that organic and fresh food will help our dogs to live longer? I do. But I also realize that for dogs to have a home…someone that loves them and takes care of their basic necessities…that is a lot more than what most dogs can ask for, or hope for. And I applaud the people that take care of their own in the best way that they individually can.

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I often have people remark on how my dogs are “walking me”. And I do have a sense of humor. However I would never say this to someone because I don’t know what the dog has been through, or the physical or mental capabilities of the owner or the dog. If someone asked me if I wanted a suggestion on how I could walk them “better”, I might react a bit differently if given out of a place of concern. But what they don’t know is the Digby was a hunting dog, he ran away, and for Digby, being off leash is dangerous and means his life.

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Oftentimes, I feel like dog parents are looking for ways to make other dog parents feel bad for the choices that they make so that they feel better about theirs. And when others cannot look past the one way that they feel is the best way to parent a dog, well, that is not loving, that is not kind. and totally not necessary. What is our ultimate concern as dog parents? Our dogs and having them with us as long as possible! We can’t judge others for the way we believe is the best way. Because their way IS the best way for their dogs if they are physically and emotionally taking care of their own.

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We all are going through different things in our lives, we all were raised differently, and no one else has walked in our shoes. Well, my dogs have walked on them. They have chewed on them. But when we all realize that there is no one way to take good care of a dog, maybe we will simply thank other dog parents we see for taking care of their own. And maybe, if they ever need our help or guidance, we will be more likely to give and to receive.

-Rachael Johnson, Owner, Girl Person, 2 Traveling Dogs

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8 thoughts on “As A Dog Parent, If I Don’t Ask For Your Opinion, I Probably Don’t Want It

  1. Casper O' Hane

    The title, ha! SAME. I have some shock-collar-worshippers in my family, who persist in trying to tell me how to train my dog. It’s not that they tried to give me advice that bothers me, but that they persist in telling me what to do even after I’ve said no, thanks. Even had one conversation where three of them ganged up on me and started talking at me, telling me how wrong I was and that I was just “being a fuss.” I literally did not bring it up to them or want to discuss it with them at all. I don’t understand why they can’t just let me train my own dog in peace. Even if I am screwing up my dog, she’s mine to screw up. And I’m not screwing her up, I’m just training R +/force free. So yeah. You’re not alone. 💜

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  2. Patricia Carlson

    Pet parents & kid parents can be so judgemental. It always seems to me that they are really voicing their own insecurities. Maybe we should feel sorry for them because karma has a way of equalizing things.
    Anyone who loves, nurtures and protects their fur babies is a good pet parent in my book. Yes, we have a spoiled rotten rescue dog and I wouldn’t have it any other way. She is our joy!!

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  3. Christine

    Comments may not always be judgmental and don’t always have to be viewed as negative … sometimes they are just simply the fact people care about persons, too. (If you were injured then that’s not very good outlook for the fur kids. ) When people try to retrain me, I try to put it into perspective … I believe more dog people speak from their hearts than from meanness of spirit. So, I smile and think … goodness, it’s ruff to be loved …
    Happiest of New Years!

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  4. Dianna Wywial

    You are a wonderful mom to Brickle and Digby. I read your blog every day, and love to hear your adventures! Just keep on doing what you are doing. If people don’t like it, that is their problem. God bless you and take care.

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  5. Kathy Dubree

    Well girl you said it. I’m not sure what you mean but a lot of times people mean well they just want to help. I guess I am guilty of giving advice but being a Grandmother and a dog owner for 50 plus years I think I might can help in some situations. I mean no harm and Love and admire you and your dogs. I love your dogs and photographs. Like my Mama used to say just let it ride off your back.

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  6. Karen Hampton

    Well, honey, you KNOW what ‘they’ say about opinions & a certain part of ones anatomy. This is very true….especially the unsolicited opinions. And, unfortunately, parents of human kids deal with this kind of opinionated, judgemental know it all, too. I have both human & fur kids & grandkids…..I have been known to ask the ‘expert opinion giver’ for their ‘business card’ should I or someone I know ever need their PROFESSIONAL services. That almost ALWAYS shuts their pie hole & they can’t get away from me quick enough. Yep, I’ve become ‘that’ person. Boundaries, lol🐶🐺😉😘

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  7. Susan green

    Awe….maybe some people just like to hear their own voice. I personally am just thrilled to see rescue dogs with families…..I am a foster mom to rescues….some are easy and some are hard….today at the vet with my sweet foster girl….fresh out of a county shelter…..I listened to a husky breeder talking about not having any problem selling them…but she kept a female…it made me sad. Keep spreading the word about rescues….we are ever changing and so are our dogs….rescue on.

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  8. I am sorry for whatever brought this on. I feel, and hear the pain and frustration in your words. Please, take comfort from knowing that people (like myself) find love, laughter and good-no, great- ideas in your words.
    The things you have done, the places you have gone are simply amazing. I know first hand traveling with a fur kid isn’t always easy.
    Stay strong, stay positive, and love those dogs with everything you’ve got!💜

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