Zuzu's First Year

A selection of some of my favorite images from Zuzu’s first year. (Better late than never, amiright?)

My vet and I joke that if Zuzu were human she’d be labeled as a Highly Sensitive Person. From the day I brought her home I could tell she needed more time to process things and that processing time had to be in spaces that were quiet and secluded. She was extremely perceptive to small changes in the environment and would startle easily. She found the act of putting on a harness so aversive that she would hide under the couch for hours, which meant that trips out of the house required a lot of forethought so she could take the time to recharge before leaving.

But here’s the absolutely coolest thing: through hard, patient work Zuzu is growing up to be an absolutely incredible dog. It turns out being highly sensitive has some tremendous advantages: she’s incredibly intuitive, thoughtful, and a quick study—she picks up on the subtlest of cues, which has made her an absolute dream to work with. She’s pushed me to grow not only as a trainer, but as a person, to confront the things that are hard for me so that they’ll be easier for her. I absolutely adore this dog to pieces and know that whatever gets thrown our way, together we’ll rise to the occasion.

If you have a highly sensitive dog these resources have been immensely helpful in our journey:

  • Marnie Johnson at Canine Fine (based in Longmont, CO) has played an instrumental role in our progress. She runs a stellar puppy class and is currently helping us with cooperative care so Zuzu is more comfortable at the vet.

  • Implementing Sarah Stremming’s Four Steps to Behavioral Wellness. If you want to dive deep, Sarah runs an online class covering this topic at—

  • Fenzi Dog Sports Academy a fantastic online dog school that has classes on everything from behavior to dog sports.