Stop blaming yourself

I made mistake after mistake with our first dog Chilli. Even though it didn’t work (at all), we used a choke collar on her. We didn’t know what else to do.

We didn’t take her to formal training classes because she listened “good enough”. Or so I thought.

One night I let Chilli off the leash to run around on the beach. She got scared by something and ran up to the road where there was a group of people. She was confused and disoriented and she ran onto the busy road. She got hit by a car that didn’t stop. The car behind that one did stop and told us where the closest vet was. We got her to the vet within 10 minutes, but it was too late.

And just like that, my Chilli was gone. I was devastated.

She was our first dog, and we adopted her from someone whose kids got tired of her and didn’t want her anymore. She lived in a crate and they just gave her to us for free.

I blamed myself for what happened to Chilli for YEARS. How could we save her from one bad situation and then let this happen? Then the what-if game – If the car had’ve hit me instead I could have survived, If I would have trained her, this wouldn’t have happened, If I hadn’t have chased her she wouldn’t have kept running… and on. And on.

Maybe that night wouldn’t have happened if she had been better trained, or if I didn’t chase her, but it was too late to change any of that.

It took me at least 2-3 years to get over the actual accident, and I still have lingering effects (I get extreme anxiety if I see any dog near a road), but I have realized that the only thing I can do now is never let that happen again to one of my dogs. I needed to learn from my mistakes so that Chilli’s accident wasn’t in vain.

Why am I sharing this story?

So that you can stop blaming yourself. Nobody is perfect. We all make mistakes, sometimes little ones, sometimes terrible ones, but we have to learn from them. We can’t change the past, we can only change the future.

Forgive yourself. Don’t forget the past mistakes, but let go of the hold they have on you. Commit to learning from that past and making the future better.

You, your dog, and your family will be much happier because of it.