Active poodle Weiland helps his owner overcome fear of dogs

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Weiland and his owner, Jennifer Blanchard Williams; all photos courtesy of Williams

Lots of walks, fishing, and visits to the park keep 4-year-old Weiland active and healthy. But Weiland’s owner, Jennifer Blanchard Williams, wasn’t always enjoying an active lifestyle with her pet, because before she met Weiland, she had an intense fear of dogs.

“I had this idea in my head that they were evil creatures or something,” said Williams, who recently moved to The Woodlands, Texas from Rochester, New York. “Like they were only pretending to be nice, but could snap at any minute. Crazy, I know.”

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Weiland in his life jacket, ready for some fishing

Williams experienced a couple traumatic encounters with dogs in her childhood, contributing to her intense fear of dogs. But she refused to be debilitated by it and decided to face her fear head on.

“I have this theory that when you’re afraid of something, it means you have to face it head on if you want to get over it,” Williams said. “One day I saw a picture of Blake Lively with her maltipoo, Penny, and it made me realize there’s no way a creature that little and cute could ever have a mean bone in its body. Soon after that one of my husband’s friends got a toy poodle, and I discovered he was a really nice dog.”

That’s when Weiland came into Williams’ life.

“When I was researching the breed online I kept seeing pics of these reddish-haired dogs and I thought, ‘I want a red toy poodle, and I’m gonna name him Weiland after rocker Scott Weiland,’” Williams said. “I wanted to get him from a reputable breeder. It took a whole year, but finally I found a breeder, who ended up living right down the street from me. He was 8 weeks old when I got him.”

The first week with Weiland was difficult for Williams as she tried to reconcile her fear of this tiny red-haired puppy. But Weiland knew just what his new mom needed.

“I wasn’t sleeping because I was so afraid of what he would do,” Williams remembers. “At one very weak moment I almost gave up. I was sitting on the floor in my living room, and I started bawling. Weiland comes over and sits on my leg and stares straight up at me. He just sits there for like five minutes looking at me. It was like he was saying, ‘Don’t give up.’ So I hugged him and decided that we were family now.”

Their human-dog bond is stronger than ever, and Weiland goes everywhere with Williams and her husband, Joe, though there may be a bit of competition for Williams’ attention.

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Weiland and Williams

“His jealousy is hilarious,” Williams said. “If I hug my husband, Weiland will come running across the room and jump up and bark at us, until we do a group hug. He hates being left out.”

Family time with Weiland includes staying active together.

“I feel it’s my duty as his adopted mom to take the best care of him, and that includes keeping him physically fit,” Williams said. Nutrition is an important part of Weiland’s fitness, too, and he eats a balanced diet and takes doggie probiotics.

“Unconditional love is definitely the biggest thing Weiland has taught me,” Williams said. “It’s helped me to make peace with woman’s best friend.”