I am not a dog person. That probably comes as a shock considering I’m writing a blog about a dog, am married to a dog trainer, and am constantly talking about my dogs whenever I get a chance, but it’s true. I’m not a dog person, I’m a Caspian person.
Caspian is the addition to our family that I didn’t know we needed. As a matter of fact, I told my husband Chase that we would not under any circumstance have a dog until we had been married for at least a year, but life had other plans.
In 2019, Chase started working at a veterinary clinic in Montgomery where he met Ashton, her girls, and Casper, their foster dog. A large part of his job was to supervise the daycare dogs, which meant he had plenty of time to get to know Casper and learn his story.
When he was still a puppy, he was adopted by a man who wanted him to be a guard dog for his property and that was all he was meant to be. A glorified security system. As a matter of fact, he was never even given a real name. He was just called “white dog.” It didn’t take long for his new owner to realize that it wasn’t going to work out and he brought him to the veterinary clinic to be a part of their daycare program where the staff gave him a real name, Casper.
After a little while at the clinic, a rescue organization found him a new home in Chicago and off he went. From what we’re told, everything was going fine until his family decided to put him in a situation that he wasn’t ready to be successful in. They threw a party, a man didn’t respect Casper’s boundaries, and the man got bit, and unfortunately in the eyes of the law, any bite is the dog’s fault. With a brand-new bite record, Casper was sent back to the clinic in Montgomery where he lived for a year with no family to call his own.
In come Ashton and Nick. After Ashton began working at the clinic, she got to know Casper and brought him into her family as a foster where she began trying to teach him that the world isn’t out to get him. He was so terrified of men that it took more than three weeks for him and Nick to be in the same room without him panicking.
When Chase heard his story he was determined to be one of the few safe male presences in his life and over time they became buddies. He later found out that Ashton was trying to find Casper a home and Chase knew the perfect one.
He called me one day at work and said, “Okay hear me out, I know we don’t want a dog right now, but you just have to meet this dog.” Of course, my response was “absolutely not.” There’s no way I’m going to come meet the dog because we all know how that story goes. You end up coming home with the dog. I must really love him though because I agreed to begrudgingly come meet the dog.
I walked into the playroom and in comes this adorable white dog with the cutest brown markings and eyes that could tell a whole story with just one look. He was a little nervous of course but pretty quickly warmed up to me. He took some treats from me and even let me pet him that very first day. Even Chase and Ashton were surprised at how quickly he seemed to accept me. I was sold. I knew that I wanted to help him be the best dog he could possibly be and give him a forever home.
Over the next several weeks we started meeting at the clinic once or twice a week to spend time with him and get to know him better. We even started taking him to obedience classes and on August 31, 2019 Caspian became ours.
There are definitely challenges that come with having a dog who has a history of trauma and anxiety, but nothing that can’t be handled or even overcome with work and patience. For example, Caspian is not your typical dog that never meets a stranger. He’s more cautious and wary, so when we introduce him to people, we always ask them not to stare or try to pet him.
People forget that dogs are still animals and not objects for you to play with. They have boundaries and some of them like their personal space more than others. So, we make sure that people respect Caspi’s boundaries for their safety and his. This doesn’t mean that you can’t win him over though. It just takes intentionality and time.
The first time my dad ever met Caspian, he immediately wanted to be his friend. My dad grew up with dogs and had never met one that didn’t want love and affection from anyone willing to give it, so Caspian was confusing to him. I told him Caspi’s story and explained to him that you just have to give him space, let him come to you, and use non-threatening body language and eventually he’ll start to trust you.
At first Caspian would only come near him if he had a treat. Then, he would come up behind him and would even let dad pet him if he wasn’t directly in front of him. By the end of the evening, Caspian was letting my dad pet him under the neck and on the back end of his own accord. Now, when my dad walks in the door, Caspian immediately jumps on the couch and wants cuddles from him. Dad and “Cassie” as he affectionately calls him, are good buddies!
Caspian is the sweetest, most gentle, loving dog that I have ever met. All he wants in life is to be loved and to make his humans happy. He was simply misunderstood. If a person is told for years that they’re good-for-nothing, useless, and mean, eventually they’ll begin to believe it. Similarly, if the narrative told about a dog is that they’re aggressive, mean, or dangerous, then that’s what people will see.
Our job as Caspian’s owners is to change that narrative. He isn’t aggressive, he’s been abused and has wider boundaries because of that. He’s not dangerous, he just needs to be respected. He’s not mean, he just requires you to earn his trust instead of demanding it. He is the goodest boy in the whole world and a few mean people tried to make him an aggressive dog when he doesn’t have a mean bone in his body.
Now he has a family who loves him, will stand up for him, and will be his voice no matter what. Caspian is my heart dog, as Ashton would say. I’m not sure who has had the bigger impact on whom, but I do know that our pack wouldn’t be complete without Caspian!