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You may or may not have heard that Will and I adopted a dog two weeks ago. She’s a purebred Australian Cattle dog (though very small for her breed), we named her June, and they think she’s about a year/year and a half. We’ve been wanting a dog for a long time now, but only recently did our living and financial situation come together to be a good time. I saw her one day on the Central Coast Herding Dog Rescue I keep an eye on, and it seemed too soon, but she seemed too good to be true, so Will and I took a day off of work and we drove up to Paso Robles to meet her (which is so much farther than my brain told myself it would be). We were warned she was really hyper but just needed to be trained, as she’d lived with a family that had way too many dogs and never got walks or training, and the city made them give up some of the dogs. We fell in love with her right away – she’s as cute as button and loves to give kisses. There was no doubt in our minds we’d take her home asap.

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But, here’s the but. As she settled in after a few days, things got so hard. I knew that bringing a dog into our lives wouldn’t be easy peasy, but I will fully admit I had no idea how hard it would be. (If you’re thinking of adopting a dog, think about how tricky it will be and you may need to multiply that a few times). She has issues I wasn’t prepared for and in the past two weeks there have been two points where I broke down sobbing, telling Will I didn’t think we should keep her – that she deserved someone who had the time and energy to train her and not resent her. I resented her so hard and felt so guilty all the time. And in turn she loved Will and was a jerk to me, because dogs are smart and pick up on all of that. But amazing people sent me amazing advice and friends told us horror stories about their dogs in their first year with them that I had no idea about. I realized the few dogs I knew well had either secret issues or were adoption story anomalies. I realized I wanted her to fit into the way I live my life right now and felt so stubborn about admitting that I needed to make certain changes and be super patient with her. We can’t go on long neighborhood walks anymore, but I drive her to parks where there are no scary dogs behind fences and every few days we go on a long trail run. I keep her away from my friend’s submissive dogs until I can teach her “leave it” and “watch me” like a pro (she’s a rough houser, which shockingly, not all dogs love). I’m figuring out how to keep her entertained and what jobs to give her to keep her happy. We’re taking her to training and learning lots of useful things. And some days it sucks and I feel defeated, but it’s getting so much better just in a few short days. I keep this list in my head of all the things I love about her and it grows every day, I feel less hopeless and full of more love.



And the question I get the most is “but what about Wendy?!”, even some really judgmental comments about how sad they are for her and that adds to my stress and guilt like you don’t even know. Because so far June isn’t great around Wendy – we were told she was raised with cats, but she sees her and wants to play, just like dogs on the street. And maybe the cats she was around before were used to that. But Wendy is a tough ass bitch (I mean seriously) and we have a baby gate up for her in the bedroom that she can get under (but June cannot) to have her own private space, and then when June is crated at night she gets the place to herself. She’s stopped hissing at June when they look at each other, and slowly June’s interest in her is starting to fade – which is exactly what we want. A lack of intrigue. I feel guilty often, but Wendy is the laziest cat on earth who sleeps all day, so things haven’t really changed too much. Every day we each make sure we hang out with her and give her lots of attention. I’m confident my vision of the four of us snuggling on the sofa watching TV together will come true in the future. Maybe just way, way in the future. I’m willing to wait for that moment.

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June’s awesome shibori dyed leash in the second photo is made by a fantastic company here in LA, Blink. I posted about them years ago and was excited to have a reason to get something finally! It’s tricky to see but she also has one of their cute tags with her name on it.


  1. says

    You did something amazing and it WILL work out. I just adopted a dog in December after wanting one for a while and then finally risking everything (or so it felt). We also have a cat, who happens to be an asshole. Bishop (the dog) still body slams Jolie every morning when he’s hyper and free from the crate, but she’s gotten used to it and now even falls over and pretend-swipes at him. I think this means they’re playing and it thrills me to no end.
    Almost four months later, they just act like brother and sister now, deep down they would miss the other, but give each other hell each day anyway. And I’m ok with this. (I just make sure to trim her claws often so she can never really hurt him, even if she’s just playing.)
    It took a lot of time and attention to acclimate Bishop, which was especially hard since at the time we both had full time jobs (now my husband works from home which is great). But once you all settle in together, it will be amazing, I promise.
    I also know a good trainer if for some reason you’re not happy with yours….
    Good Luck xo

  2. Lexie says

    It made me so excited and happy that you adopted a dog! You love animals so much! I know it’s tough, but I am so glad you and Will are sticking with June!

  3. says

    The first month or two after I came back from 3 months away, to my kitten full-grown was just like this. She was used to having the run of the place during the day, so no one was there to keep her from sniffing in the kitchen sink, claw-sharpening on the Wegner folding chairs, or batting pictures off the wall. I cried several times telling my boyfriend that we had to send her back to my parents. And this was a cat. A CAT. In the end, Dizzy eventually learned some things, but it took lots of observation, positive rewards, and blocking things off.

    This does not bode well for ever wanting children.

    • says

      I forgot to mention this here but we almost found Wendy a new home when we got he! She was so awful for like, 3 years. And now she’s a sweetheart.

  4. Lauren says

    Oh man, I know exactly what you are going through! I have two Australian Shepherds and the first 6 months of my oldest, Reese’s life, I swear I had more crying fits than I would like to remember. There was a barking/separation anxiety problem which led to a lot of my favorite items being ripped, chewed and damaged. (Why do dogs ALWAYS know that THOSE shoes/sweater/pillow/magazine/books is your FAVORITE?!)

    I’ll never forget meeting someone who told me if I just dedicated a lot of patience and a good 6 months to really training and teaching Reese, my life would be made forever. It took SO much out of me but it was so worth it. All of the resentment, guilt and agony is now behind us and I can’t imagine my life without these two. Getting the second dog made life easier as well – as the two keep each other company and are inseparable.

    Also, I’ll never forget the first 6 months of having a dog, I couldn’t get over how many people had such strong opinions about how I should be raising/training/feeding/walking her. Some valuable, but mostly a lot of people thinking their way was the ONLY way. I hear it’s worse with real children;)

    Hang in there! It will get so much better. Also, there’s not much my dogs won’t do for a frozen kong stuffed with peanut butter. Lifesaver!

    • says

      I never knew how controversial and heated dog training was!! It’s like, do what works and makes you & your dog happy and that’s all that matters.

      Also I’ve never spent so much money on things for this girl to chew… She cleans out a frozen kong full of peanut butter in 15 minutes, it’s insane.

  5. says

    Cattle Dogs are a tough breed. They can be so stinkin’ stubborn. Lots of training and socializing will help. But listen to what your dog is telling you too. They’ll let you know their boundaries and what they are comfortable with.

    When we rescued our dog from the pound, he hated me for the first couple months and only loved my husband. That dog would pee/poop in the house when it was just me and him and he would constantly nip at me—he never did either of those with my husband.

    Then after a few months he realized I was the one who would like to give him more cuddles and kisses. Whenever he did something good with me, I’d tell him he was a good boy, give him a training treat, and a quick cuddle. Now my dog prefers me to my husband. It’ll work out.

  6. says

    I just adopted a pup myself, although she seems like the exact opposite of June. She is a chihuahua/terrier mix and is VERY shy. Around me she is sweet, loves to play, and gets along with my cat, but around strangers? She BOLTS under my bed. And that is something that makes me impatient but I have to remind myself the same things you are reminding yourself. She has started to open up and I know with patience and training, she will fit into my life like I had planned…even with the little bumps, I can’t imagine my life without her.

  7. says

    i grew up with a cattle dog that looked exactly like your june! (except he wore a blue bandana;) the unsure stage you are experiencing will pass. they are such great dogs. when you get on the other side, you will be so happy you persevered! enjoy-

  8. says

    I just love Australian Cattle dogs, June looks like a particularly beautiful one! I hope things get a little easier for you. We’ve been thinking about adopting a dog for a while now but I often forget how much work it would be and how long the adjustment period is, this was a helpful reminder!

    Best of luck and congrats on your new family member!

  9. riye says

    One of the best dogs I’ve ever met was a Cattle dog but his owner found him at the pound–untrained and hyper. I also have another friend whose pitbull mix failed dog school twice before passing–he’s a sweet dog too. AND he got along fine with her cat. It will work out–you’ll see.

    I’ve struggled with having a multi-cat household and before things settled down I was afraid that the fighting would never stop and that the pee and vomit smells were going to be permanent additions to the house. Good luck!!

  10. says


    we have a rescue doggie of a cattle/herding dog mix and she was/is a hot mess of a dog. she’s the best thing i’ve ever had and i love her into a million pieces but there was such a large period of adjustment. i remember once thinking “if i’d know how much work this would be i wouldn’t have adopted her.”

    we have 2 kitties and for the first few months whenever they’d slink into the room w/ the dog we’d whisper “we’re all in the same room!” now they rub all over the dog and sometimes swat her and generally lovingly tolerate her as part of the family.

    everyone will have an opinion btw – just stick what what you know is best for your dog and you guys. it gets a ton better. she is so beautiful!

  11. Annie says

    I adopted a dog and then a cat not too long after. The cat was 5 and very much set in her ways, so the relationship between the two pets was very tense at first. Nothing dangerous, they were just clearly uncomfortable around each other. Making sure the cat had a defined space that the dog couldn’t always access was very, very helpful in allowing both animals adjust to each other in their own time. The snuggles will come, but I totally hear you on the frustration front. The first week I had my dog at my apartment, she somehow found the ONE childhood teddybear I had saved into adulthood and destroyed it. She laid next to it in shame for the rest of the night. And then she never chewed anything but dog toys ever again. Uncanny.

  12. says

    Dogs are such a life adjustment – but are so worth it. Even with all the craziness, you won’t be able to imagine your life without June in it soon.

    My dog loves these Nylabones – and I love them because they last forever. His real favorite toy is the Kong ball with the tails on it that you can squeak and throw. But those have about a five minute lifespan (he chews off the tails and then rips out the ball after one throw – it’s kind of intense), and at $20 a pop, we’ve retired that option. Get one of these big ones (http://www.nylabone.com/product-finder/my-pet-is/dog-large/big-chews-for-big-dogs-beef-bone.htm) because they can hold it between their paws. Toby (my dog) isn’t big (only 45 lbs), but he likes this size best. Sometimes it takes him a few days to get interested in a new one – I think he has to kind of start the chew on it for it to feel good to his gums – but it literally takes him months of hard work to finish one.

  13. Kate says

    I love the name June and wanted to call my baby girl June but husband only agreed to it as middle name.

    Your June is gorgeous. I think people downplay just how hard puppies/dogs are. Beautiful honesty and commitment you have.

    I felt similar things when my baby arrived. I think if we heard less about the cute puppy/baby etc and more about the hard work and personal shifts required we’d all feel more comfortable with the process of caring for another being in our care.

    Goodluck and no doubt your hard work will be rewarded.

  14. meredith says

    okay, i HAVE to comment here for the first time because we rescued a second dog in december and we named her junie!

    one really valuable thing i learned when we got our first dog, frankie, and did training courses with him was to eliminate the potential for bad behavior whenever possible, instead of training out the bad behavior. it has helped me calm down about his naughtiness so much. so, for instance, instead of trying to train a dog to NOT eat out of the trash can, just get a better trash can he can’t access. or, like you said, instead of trying to train him not to bark at certain dogs on walks, just don’t walk by that house. i think people waste a lot of time, effort, and stress trying to teach dogs things that could just be eliminated. now that we have children, it’s much easier for me to train my children not to do certain things that provoke the dog instead of training the dog not to get mad at the children.

    this way, you will have less guilt and stress, and more time to snuggle with june! it’s true – all of this hard work pays off big time when you get the companionship and unconditional love in return. dogs are the best friends humans can have. good luck with june!

    also, i just saw you said she’s a chewer. get some antlers! it sounds so weird, but they last forever and they are much safer than rawhide.

  15. says

    Stick in there! I have two Australian Cattle Dogs (a red and a blue), and rescuing them was among the best decisions I’ve ever made. They are a huge effort, but the reward of getting to enjoy life with them makes everything worth it!

  16. says

    I am probably just joining the chorus of voices who say “it’s gets better”, but it’s true!! My husband and I wanted a dog for the longest time and finally got one a few years ago. We maybe weren’t quite ready, but who really is? Things were super hard at first (she is completely deaf, too, so that made things a little different from norm) and we joked that the adjustment period was harder/longer for us than for her. It took many months before we all adjusted and we learned a lot along the way. There were definitely nights that first week that I cried and thought that we had made a mistake. But time passed, we all learned, and we have laughed so much and marveled at her sweetness. Dogs are such loving, rewarding pets. They are also time consuming and expensive. June looks like a sweet little girl and she is so lucky because you are going to give her an AMAZING home! Good luck to all of you!

  17. Jane says

    I never comment on blogs, but I wanted to offer you a small word of encouragement! June is beautiful. I am sorry to hear how difficult its been. I am especially sad to hear that people have been offering unsolicited criticism and negativity; you have given a sweet pup a home and that is an amazing, generous thing! You obviously love both Wendy and June so much, and it’s admirable that you’re providing a healthy, safe, caring environment for both of them. Good luck with the difficult transition period, I hope it passes swiftly and gets easier/more fun as soon as possible!

  18. says

    Ugh. When we adopted Circe, it took well over a month for her to adjust to the city sounds in our apartment, which happens to have paper thin walls. I was waking up every 30 – 40 minutes and begging her to stop barking, or spooning her tightly to reduce her anxiety (sounds adorable, does not work for sleeping) and try to calm her down. The first time we left her alone in the apartment for a couple hours I came back to a mean anonymous note on our door telling us she’d been barking all day (we’d only been gone for three hours, but I felt terrible thinking about how stressed she must have been to bark the whole time. I’d have felt worse for the neighbor if he’d had the balls to leave his name so I could apologize in person). So then I was afraid to leave her alone, ever, and I started wondering if we were ever going to be able to leave the house again. We also had to teach her to be on the leash, because she’d never really been on walks before and at 8 years old, she is not a good learner.

    But a few months later things are much, much better! We got her a Thundershirt which helped her relax enough to adjust to city noises and meant we finally got to start sleeping again. We only end up having to carry her home on about 1/3 of her walks now, which is a vast improvement. And, needless to say, there is nothing like having a dog nuzzle your legs in a frenzy of pre-bedtime excitement and love. That makes up for a lot.

    You guys will figure out what works for you and things will keep getting better. Congrats on the new family member!

  19. says

    Living in Highland Park changed my dog for the worse for sure, so I can empathize. I used to live in Old Towne Orange, and most dogs in yards were friendly, but here on the Eastside, dogs are born tough and get very aggressive, setting off my pup’s skittishness, but also her own hidden aggression issues.

    If you find a good dog trainer in the area, please let me know. I’m looking for solutions myself. Dog ownership has been the biggest challenge of my adult life. There’s days when she looks at me with such unconditional love and I know it’s worth it, but she doesn’t always make it easy to remember!

    After the first year you’ll get into a rhythm, but until then you’ll be wondering how all your friends have such loyal, loving and well-behaved pets like I did!!

    Here’s my Nova:


    • says

      Also, they outgrow the chewing, but it definitely takes time. After her 2nd birthday, Nova’s separation anxiety and destructive tendencies mellowed out substantially. This was a dog who, when she was a puppy, ATE MY COUCH! Literally ripped off all the cushions and shredded them, then took to the soda frame. I was gone at work for 6 hours.

      Four years later, we live in a studio apartment and she doesn’t touch a thing, except for her odd habit of taking the dishrag off the kitchen counter and placing it in the middle of the floor in the living room.

      I used a lot of carrots in lieu of bones (cheaper, healthier), compressed rawhide (seemed to last maybe a few hours, at least longer than the regular rawhide), and empty plastic water bottles filled with whatever, anything to keep her entertained!

      I’ve learned to buy toys with no stuffing so I don’t have to clean it up, and I’ve gotten some kooky little Made-for-TV device called a “Bark OFF” that seems to keep her quiet when I’m gone– I’m pretty sure it’s just intimidation factor at this point, the battery must have died a year ago! A trash can with a locking lid seems stupid for $100, but can be such a help against a trash-digging street dog like I adopted.

      God they love ya, but they do drive you nuts.

      I’ve just barely reached the point where I can take my girl off the leash on the occasional long hike– of course, only if there’s no people around and no other dogs– but it’s been such a gift to see her walk with us and actually LISTEN.

  20. ayetwobee says

    I have seen and heard a lot about dogs feeding/training/learning you name it! I worked at a dog supply store for a long time and learned a lot and heard many many different opinions! In the end you really do have to compromise and do what works for your dog. Right now we are struggling with 5 month old Penny and house training. No matter how often we take her outside and let her pee – she WILL come inside and pee on the floor! Last weekend I hand washed our flokati rug in the bath tub…this is rather exhausting as you need to stomp on it like crushing grapes to work the dirt out and then it is heavy as hell when it is full of water and needs to be hung out…it probably took me about 2 or 3 hours to clean. Last night it was dry and I put it back down on the floor. the SECOND it hit the floor Penny ran over and peed on it! I had a small melt down and freak out. I decided to remove all rugs from the house until she is trained.

    Our trainer says that dogs always “do what they practice” so if you can stop them from repeating or forming habits you will remove the unwanted behavior. Sometimes it isn’t a matter of training them not to do something – but rather training them to do something else – the behavior you want to see. I am not at all happy about living without the rugs but I need to adapt to her needs right now.

    Penny also like to rough house and jump up on people. She loves people and wants to say hi but when she is 70+ lbs it will not be cute so we are also struggling with that. I know people think that electric collars are controversial BUT I think in her case – for a well adjusted and happy dog, they can work if used correctly by the humans! I don’t suggest this for June but my point is, do what is right for you and your dog. Even if other disapprove. You will know by your dogs reaction if it is working or hindering their progress.

    Other tidbits of advice:

    #1 Never (EVER EVER!!) let June have really hard chews like marrow bones, antlers or other hard plastic chews. Up until two weeks ago I was a huge fan of antlers and Himalaya chews BUT My older dog shattered a tooth on one! Poor thing had to have the tooth surgically removed since it was infected and the pulp was showing. I have recommended these chews for people a million times and now I take it all back. Not worth the pain to my dog and the $500 to have her go through surgery and general anesthetic. I will stick to bully sticks and the occasional hoof.

    #2 Canned pumpkin is awesome! If you dog has stools that are too hard or too soft just add some to their food. It is very good for them.

    #3 Sweet potatoes are also awesome! I get a few large ones, slice them lengthwise at about 1/4 inch or more and then put them on the oven rack and bake at a low heat until they are hard and a little rubbery. These make terrific and CHEAP chews for your dog and they are very healthy. Here is a recipe: http://www.17apart.com/2012/02/how-to-make-sweet-potato-dog-chew.html

    #4 Use a long line to train for recall. I just use a really long piece of rope that has a bit of stretch to it. I use about 50 feet. I let the dogs loose on it in a protected space and then I can step on it if they go too far away from me. This helps teach them an acceptable radius that they can venture away from you. Call them back once they reach the end and reward.

    #5 Never feel guilty about crate training. Our dogs like to go in the crate. We cover it partially with a sheet so it is like a den. If they are barking in there or whining – we cover it up and it removes the stimuli and most times they get quiet fast.

    #6 Find a mentor dog. If you can fine an older, very well adjust, patient dog for June to be around it may really help her. If she grew up around dogs that were too wild she just doesn’t know better sometimes another dog can be a better teacher than a human – with close human supervision of course.

    ok that is all for unsolicited advice today :) Soon you will not be able to imagine your life without her!

  21. Anabela says

    Aw man, so sorry to hear it’s been hard when all you’re trying to do is love a rescue pup! I have no experience with this really, but I hope it gets better for you. And I’m sorry you had to deal with comments that made you feel terrible on top of all the stress!

  22. Michelle says

    June is beautiful! Thank you for rescuing her! Dogs, in general, tend to settle down between ages 2-3. So you are probably in the teenage phase now. Put lots of work, love and energy into her and you will be rewarded with an amazing companion. I am an Aussie lover but all herding dogs are special, so intuitive, loyal and emotional. June just needs more time. You will get there together!

  23. says

    Hooray for June! I have a rescue dog that’s half June’s breed & half corgi. She was abandoned & left at a rural TN animal control shelter for 6 months. No one ever came & claimed her. I found her right before they were going to put her down. Unlike June, Linda (my dog’s name is Linda McCartney) was 5 years old when we rescued her. She was also pregnant & heartworm positive – neither of which we knew. She had to have emergency surgery to terminate the pregnancy & spade her. And then a few months later, we had to take her to a clinic out-of-state that specializes in saving heartworm positive dogs, where she had to stay for awhile. It was a ROUGH first year. But we’ve had her 5 years now & she’s so awesome. Every year, she displays some new behavior that we haven’t seen before, which is common in rescue dogs. Rescue dogs are hard & puppies are hard – & you have both. Our story had a happy ending & I hope yours will, too. XO

  24. says

    She is precious – I adore this bread of dog and have often wanted to get one. My husband has fond memories of owning them on his cattle farms growing up. I hear wonderful stories about “Bear and Cookie” his ACD’s. I love the name June as well – that’s our dog’s name. She’s a mutt and we adore her.

    Having any pet is a huge change, dogs more so than cats. I’ve always said – cats own people, not the other way around. Your cat knows what she wants when she wants it and what she doesn’t want. Dogs are a big harder but trust me, you’ll get into the flow with June.

    Our cat Angus and June are BFF now. It took a while – We had the cat first, and our dog was a puppy. Angus asserted his dominance and honestly June still falls inline even though she’s way bigger, she will still submit to my cat’s wishes.

    Big changes are always hard but in the end June will be one of the most loyal things in your life. Trust me. :)

  25. says

    Aw, like I’ve said on Instagram, she is just the cutest! I have no idea about dogs, except that I excitedly offered to walk a golden doodle puppy at Christmas time and it was a disaster, I had no idea how difficult it was to train a dog to walk calmly. Thank goodness we didn’t run into any other dogs. I’m glad things are improving with June already! I’m sure your vision of your whole little family cuddling on the couch will happen in time :).

  26. says

    You can do it! Congratulations for bringing home such a cute rescue. Cattle dogs (heelers) are notoriously difficult dogs, because they are SUPER smart and have a really, really high drive. As I’m sure you’ve already heard from people, giving June a “job” will make her a much happier housemate. Thanks for opening up your heart and home to her!

  27. says

    I am so, so, so, SO jealous. June is frickin’ adorable, I could stare at these photos all day!! And while I’m sorry to hear it’s been so hard, I’m so appreciative of your honesty in this post / on Instagram. We are lightyears away from ever being in a position that would allow us to even look for a dog, but our desire for one is strong. I always knew it wouldn’t be easy, but reading this post makes me realize just how much more preparation we’ll need than simply living in a bigger space.

    And double gasps at jerks making jerk comments RE: Wendy. You did an amazing thing opening up your home to this cutie pie, and to even *suggest* you aren’t keeping Wendy’s best interest in mind during this process is so insulting.

  28. lindsay says

    The first two weeks after adopting my dog I thought I’d made the biggest mistake of my life. We tried crate training him, but he would freak out and bark constantly (when he was usually silent). We thought he had separation anxiety, but it turns out he was just scared of being locked in his cage. We barricaded off sections of the apartment when we left and he was calm, and didn’t destroy anything. He’d been a stray up north so all the sounds of the city made him nervous. After a few weeks of living with us and trusting us, he stopped jumping when trucks passed by and has even taken trips on the subway. We were lucky and he got comfortable in our home pretty quickly, but these things take time! After the first month of anxiety, exhaustion and adjusting, you’ll find your new routine and be able to relax again.

    You mentioned how quickly June eats, mine is the same way. I like to feed him a meal a few bites at a time while making him do tricks. He loves doing tricks and it’s a great way to communicate together. It also has the bonus of making him a little tired from the mental stimulation. It’s an easy way to give them a ‘job’, they’ll work for food.

    Good luck!

  29. Lauren says

    First-time commentor, long time reader, etc!

    I have a rescue Cattle Dog. We’ve been together for eight years now, but I was absolutely not in love with him for the first two months I had him. He was stubborn, chewed on everything, growled and yipped at weird times, and pulled me down the street on his leash.

    BUT a couple of months later, we adjusted to each other and fell completely in love. He’s still stubborn, but as soon as he settled into my home, he became calmer, stopped eating my books, knew my schedule, taught himself some games to play by himself when my boyfriend and I were busy, and basically became the best dog in the whole world. Cattle Dogs are so special and expressive and really, really worth the difficult period where you’re still learning about each other. My friends who have dogs are always jealous of how easily my dog communicates his needs with just a little eyebrow raise and how easily I can command him in turn. We’re really in tune with each other, and I’ve found most Cattle Dog owners feel similarly.

    HANG IN THERE. June will be worth it. I’ve read your blog for a long time and can tell she won’t find a more loving owner than you!

  30. Annika says

    My dog is three years old now and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. Just this moment he’s cuddling between me and the pillow. I take one look at him and can’t help but let out a silent “awww…”. But when I think about the first year I remember that he used to be a little monster. I did cry, too. I even thought that maybe I’m not a dog person after all. But it all got better with lots of training (and time). Once his vet told me something that I always try to remember when I get angry or impatient with him. She said that there is no such thing as a bad or a stupid dog, there’s only a bad owner. So I know that his imperfections are not his fault, they’re usually the result of my laziness or ignorance. It’s my job to teach him how to be the best and the happiest dog in the world. And he’s a really smart little thing. As all dogs are.

    So I wish you good luck with June! Your patience will be worth it, she is adorable.

  31. Heidi says

    It DOES get better! My parents adopted a rescue dog in September 2013, and even though the dog is small and somewhat sedentary, it was a stressful adjustment. Their routine had to change, and compromises were made. They have kept reminding themselves that he is a rescue dog, and was clearly neglected, so we can’t even know how that has impacted him. He has become more and more comfortable and at home with them, and is now calmly enjoying things (like walking on grass!) that terrified him at first. Even though the first few months were hard, is it worth it as you grow more and more bonded and comfortable together. It can be hard with a new dog because you get a first impression, and then the first day you get the dog home, you start learning that it’s a little more complicated… but don’t give up! Damage done over time takes time to undo.

  32. Heidi says

    Also, I convinced my parents to adopt the dog, so I felt Extremely Guilty at first, as they were having trouble adjusting!!! I definitely second-guessed my decision, but now I am okay with it, because I can see the dog improving their lives, and they have clearly saved the dog’s life.

  33. Jun says

    Congrats (on adopting my namesake), and I know exactly what you have been going through. When I first adopted my dog 7 years ago, I went through the same exact thing – the first two weeks was the hardest. She barked non-stop whenever she was left alone. I was convinced we couldn’t keep her, but my husband pushed me to work through it and out of desperation, I found this spray collar that lets out a spray of water when she let out a bark. Some people might find that cruel, but I think it was a better option than giving her up. We only put it on her when she had to be left alone, and after about a week with it, she learned to stop barking non-stop during the few hours we left her. She and another dog that I adopted a couple years later together are still a nightmare on walks together as they bark and growl at other dogs – not because they are unfriendly, but because they get so excited and want to say hi and can’t contain themselves (but that of course does not translate, and they end up looking like a couple of a-holes). I have spent more on vet bills than on my own medical bills during my entire life and I’ve got a dozen more complaints about them, but I love them to death and can’t imagine not having them around. When I found out I was having a baby, I worried constantly about the dogs being aggressive towards the kid, but that too worked itself out and my son loves the dogs. Not sure the feeling is completely mutual with the dogs, but they have a funny love-hate relationship with him and never a bite or blood drawn between. Life is just better with dogs/pets. It’s going to be great for you too, I’m sure!

  34. callen says

    Hi Kate, I left a brief comment on IG when you got her but I want to follow up. You guys are going to be GREAT dog owners! It’s obvious that you really care. Bringing up a dog is really hard, and many times you’ll feel like you should just throw in the towel. But it will get easier, you’ll learn to live together, and you’ll figure out what works for you (note, not what works for everyone else and the star of the obedience class).
    Shortly after adopting our dog I realized he had a lot more anxiety and aggression issues than we were told. I was upset and bitter. I thought I would get a dog as a companion and he would get me to relax, be less anxious and feel more confident; turns out I got a dog that needed all that more than me! But the thing is, I figured out that I had to be more easy-going, relaxed and confident to be what he needed. It was one of those lightbulb moments in life when things come full circle! Oh, and just wait until she starts glancing up at you during walks for approval or drops that gross thing from the street for the treat in your hand. :D So worth it!! Good luck!

  35. says

    Cattle dogs of any breed are amazing! They’re so high energy and so so so smart. But also, they’re so high energy and so so so smart so they need lots to do or else they get CRAZY! And getting a rescue can be so much harder too since you aren’t able to train them from tiny babies to live the way you do. Once you guys figure each other out, it’s gonna be so super awesome. Worth it.

  36. says

    It took some months for my dog to get accustomed to two cats I adopted. But in the end, while they didn’t play the same way, they got along fine enough. It will work out.

  37. Jane says

    Don’t feel guilty…I had what I call postpartum breakdowns for at least 6 months after I got my dog. I would be walking him with tears just streaming down my face. Owning a young, untrained dog is HARD. It just is. Especially when you’re used to cats, like I was. But let me tell you that once you put in some initial training work and the dog grows up (I swear, when my pup turned 3 it was like pure magic), it will be soooo worth it.

    I highly recommend obedience classes. I went to Petsmart (which isn’t the best, I’m sure, but it was within in my small budget). My dog learned basic training (sit, stay, down, leave it, etc…), but more importantly it was a weekly event that got us out of the house and tired him out. It also taught him that I was in charge, and allowed him to be in a controlled social environment with other dogs. If June is an alpha, just tell your trainer you want to work on that, and I’m sure he/she can help address the issue.

    As far as Wendy, I’m sure they will be ok, just give them time. If she can jump, make sure you give her vertical options so she can escape June, but still be in the room with you guys. I have 2 cats and my dog wasn’t the best with them at first so I’d keep him on a short-ish leash for a while while we were all in the same room. This way, if he lunged, or was being annoying, I’d simply give it a short tug and say “leave it” and keep him close until he calmed down. When he did, I’d give him a treat. After he was cool with this, when a cat would walk into the room, I’d say “leave it” and when he looked at me, not bothering the cat, I’d give him a treat.

    There are TONS of ways…but time is the best. In the meantime, don’t beat yourself up. It’s really a tough adjustment and it seems like you’re doing everything right!

  38. says


    congrats you two!
    i have been waiting for this post to get the scoop on June!
    she is adorable!
    and i applaud you two for giving her a loving and amazing home.

    i know it can be rough, i wasn’t expecting to get a dog when i did. Ava was my mum’s dog and before my mum died i told her i would take her even though dogs were not allowed in my building and i was at the beginning of grad school. it was rough, to say the least. and at times it still is (the broken leg last summer was such a trying time). but every day it is still so worth it. they teach you SO much!! Ava has been an amazing teacher to me, and there is nothing i wouldn’t do for her. even though i have my moments where i want to just leave the door open and she can run into the wild. haha. and for all the ways i love and care for here there are still times when i beat myself up for all the things i can’t give her, or the time that i sometimes don’t have for her. but you just do the best you can. and that’s what i have to tell myself, and my neighbors when they complain about hearing her cry… i’m just doing the best i can.

    the long and short of it is that it’s hard, and you love them so much.
    it’s a mix.
    but aren’t all the best things in life like that? for me they are. i think that’s the amazing thing about love, the people you love and the things you love doing, when it gets hard it’s worth fighting for, and fighting through it all.

    be kind to yourself.
    June is one lucky dog to have you and Will and Wendy! :)
    i can’t wait to meet her!!

    love to your happy family!

    • says

      ps – Ava also has so much anxiety – part of it is her bread – the other part of i think is related to my mum dying. anyway – i started giving her this homeopathic anxiety stuff when her leg was broken, to keep her calm so she could rest and heal, and am still giving it to her. i find it really helps her focus and be less anxious. she listens so much better, she is soooo good! (with the occasional bad dog behavior when i’m not around.) such a good girl.
      anyway – may be something worth considering if you feel like June might benefit.
      i also take it sometimes, i laugh that we share remedies… dogs are amazing mirrors ;) they pick up on your subtle energies.


  39. Leila says

    Oh man. Dogs are crazy amounts of work! Before I got my dog, Beta, I wanted one so bad and knew it would be hard work, but nothing could’ve prepared me for what was in store. I mean, just having to share your energy with another creature is a lot, but there’s so much more you have to learn to deal with. My patience wore thin so many times, and I broke down every night for about a week after we got her! I also know what you mean by your pup loving your husband, and thinking you’re a jerk. That happened to me, too! And it makes you feel so bummed ’cause you’re working so hard. Anyway, just wanted to comment and say hang in there, and good luck! It gets better, I promise you! Xoxo

  40. Ally says

    Hey there.

    A friend who recently came to stay with us recommended I read your blog, and I am very glad that I did. 3 months ago my partner and I adopted an Aussie cattle dog called Angus (he is crossed with a few other breeds – he’s a really mixa). He is adorable, such a good natured dog and very friendly and sweet – but extremely anxious. We probably should have noticed something when we visited him at his foster carer’s place and he was very clingy with her, and sat by the door whenever she left the room….. But, even if we had realised what that may mean, I think we still would have adopted him.

    Since we brought him home, it has been a bit of a nightmare. There have been good and bad times. We had to sleep with earplugs in for the first month as he would cry and do this awful high-pitched yapping when we put him to bed. He now sleeps in our room, and won’t stop barking if we try and put him somehwere that is out of sight of us. We haven’t been out of the house without him (except for work, which is unavoidable) for over 2 months. When he is alone he howls, barks, cries, throws himself at the doors, scratches and chews through (yes, through) fences in the garden, he won’t eat at all and gets diarrhea. This goes on hours after we leave for work, and then intermittently through the day until around 3pm, when it starts again with gusto (we know all this because we ended up buying a webcam). Luckily I have some flexibility with work, and can work from home sometimes!

    We have regularly taken him to training classes since we got him and practice only positive reinforcement methods. We take him for a run every morning and to the dog park every evening, so I think he gets enough excercise and socialisation (at least there isn’t any way we could get him any more!). We try to enrich his environment when he is alone by giving him feeding toys and treat puzzle toys, hiding treats around the garden etc. He has kongs, squeeky toys, balls and tasty chews to keep him entertained; but when he is alone, he is so distressed that he doesn’t pay these any attention at all. If anything, the symptoms of the anxiety and his behaviour when he is alone have got worse. He shows compulive behaviours like tail chasing and repeated licking.

    We had some one-on-one sessions with our trainer, who recommended that we take him to see a veterinary behaviourist (a fully trained vet who specialises in behavioural problems) and that we considered anti-anxiety medication. We had the appointment with the vet behaviourist yesterday. It was a very thorough consultation, which lasted 2.5 hours. We discussed lots of things and showed her some videos of him when he’s alone. She told us that she thinks he has severe separation anxiety, and that it is likley to get worse as his behavioural patterns become more and more practiced and ingrained. We are at our wits end. We have discussed trying to rehome him, but love him so much, and are so concerned about where he may end up, that we really don’t want to do that. So – and I am a bit nervous of saying this as there may be some negative responses – we have decided to try him on some medication and see whether that improves anything….. His anxiety, and the behaviours that it causes, are so severe that it must be horrid for him when he is on his own. He is so distressed, and there’s no way that we can be with him all the time. We have made ALOT of changes to our lifestyle, and accept those as being part of being responsible dog owners. But, he hasn’t shown any improvement, and if anything has got gradually worse. I read all the comments on here about dogs improving with time and patience and training, but I have also read that if allowed to continue to practice the anxiety behaviours, this can lead to the condition actually getting worse. It’s so hard to know what to do – and I just hope that we have made the right decision for our little Angus! As I am typing this I have my headphones in and can hear him yapping and scratching at the door through the webcam sound recording….. It’s so sad :-(

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