Matea was an amazing Wirehaired Pointer, adopted from the Barrie SPCA in 2002 at approximately 7 months of age. After being there six weeks and already having been trial adopted and returned, this dog was clearly too much dog for the average person. She was wild and disconnected … focused only on squirrels and pulling like a freight train. Kennel-staff called her a Picasso-dog due to her habit of painting her kennel with feces from her desperate leaps to get out. Filthy, frantic, tuned-out, high-drive … definitely not a dog any sane person would want to bring home.
She was certainly far, FAR more dog than I ever bargained for. After two weeks, completely frustrated and in tears, we started a pros and cons list on whether we’d be able to keep this intense, high-energy wild beast. The cons list was lengthy, and – sadly – there wasn’t a single entry on the pros side. Still, I’ve never given up on an animal.
It’s hard to know where to begin to describe the amazing girl Matea became through the proper guidance and leadership … and lots of training. What I ultimately learned from this girl in the 14 1/2 years we shared was truly life-altering. She was my companion, my best friend, and the most brilliant of teachers. She was my service dog when I was laid up for a year-long recovery for a shattered ankle, and throughout our time together she was always my right-hand around the house.
Wirehaired Pointers are NOT for the average dog owner. They require constant adaptation to their phenomenal drive, and creative thinking in answering their need for exercise – mental and physical.
If you want to enrich your life and really learn more about dog behavior, training, and drives, adopt a dog outside of your comfort zone and history. (I grew up with GSDs and knew nothing about hunting dogs and the Wirehaired Pointer’s incredible ‘sharpness’ and drive.) BUT be prepared to adapt. Be prepared to throw out everything you thought you knew about training and switch gears to work with the new drive you’ve brought into your life. What works for one dog, one breed, one drive doesn’t always work for the next.
In the end, the rewards far outweigh all the frustration and tears and confusion. Matea will forever be one of my proudest accomplishments and forever my greatest teacher.
I lost my truly incredible girl in October 2016, one week after her beloved Merrick. She was my strength, my greatest teacher, and my most loyal and steadfast of all partners for almost 15 years. She steered my life in directions it would not have otherwise gone and showed me things I would never have known with another. She was my life-dog, my main-dog … and there will never be another like her. Thank you, my girl, for the most incredible journey. I hope you are with Merrick, running free of pain, and strong and bold as your heart always was.
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