Jasper came into my life as a worried puppy, who quickly became my shadow. He started as a foster, arriving from Puerto Rico at just 14 weeks. The vet who vaccinated him described his as a worried rocket scientist. While he was quickly bonding, and trusting my husband and I, he had little interest in meeting new people, choosing instead to walk away when people approached.
I had not been looking for a puppy, but something about Jasper spoke to me. And I worried along with him, I knew with bad experiences Jasper might develop bad habits.
So he stayed longer, and we socialized slowly, focusing on quality, not quantity, and we made sure people let him approach them, and when he did it was positive. I went to the vet’s office with piles of chicken, to the pet store with bags of hotdogs, and everyone was asked to gently toss him treats. His confidence grew, and so did our bond, and I realized Jasper had moved from being my foster dog, to my dog.
A year later we still have room to grow, but Jasper has proven himself to be a smart, cautious dog, who loves to play with other dogs, and who loves to use his nose. We are starting to channel his skills and fine-tune his gifts, and together we are having fun and learning what he wants to do in life. Jasper is never going to be a therapy dog but he is learning more and more to relax and enjoy the world when he isn’t working, and his natural skill is stretching my skills in competition sports, forcing me to become a better trainer.