I am a “by the book” type of girl – the type of person that reads the IKEA instructions before spending 2 hours putting together a table. I’m just more comfortable with having all of the information available to me.
That’s why fostering dogs is great for me because these dogs do not come with any type of manual. On the contrary, every dog is completely different with his/her own set of issues. When I’m explaining some new training technique to a friend, I often also explain that “I just make this shit up.” And that is the honest truth. I don’t know how any particular dog is going to respond to any particular tactic. I just use my instincts and hope for the best.
The picture that you see is my current foster who has severe anxiety around humans. She’s currently sitting on my lap, but I am the only person that she loves. Everyone else (including my children, family, and friends) are greeted with growling and severe shaking. We’re working on it, and it’s a slow, gradual process. Everyday I come up with another way to socialize her with people. I don’t know what really works. So, I just keep trying different things because there’s just no right way to fix her.
As is this case with this sweet dog, it’s challenging not to have a solution written in a manual somewhere. Luckily, I love the creativity of having questions that need improvised solutions. I’ve read lots about dog training, but every foster requires that I piece together different techniques to see what works. See, I’ve read the instructions, but now I have to figure out which steps are actually necessary.
That sense of problem-solving is something that I seriously miss from my days on the marketing research supplier side. I loved the process of thinking through a problem, coming up with possible solutions, inventing and combining methodologies, and defending my whacky ideas to those around me. I know a lot about different research methodologies, but there’s not always one “right” choice. Sometimes, you have to get creative.
That creativity is exhilarating and also something that I don’t get to do as a freelancer. Usually by the time someone comes to me, they’ve already sold a project or come up with a methodology. I simply execute. I miss the challenge of the complex questions and the exhilaration of creating an answer. But since that’s not in the cards for me at the moment. I’ll just continue to foster Fidos. There are plenty out there that need help.