Sometimes the best things in life aren’t meant to be.

Ten-month-old Raffi (then Venus) arrived six weeks ago a terrified, skittish pupper who ran away from me every time I tried to leash her. She couldn’t hold “her business” and was nervous and afraid. My impression is that she experienced trauma in her formative, early days… which was, at minimum, neglect and quite possibly worse.

After letting her get settled—along with visits from some amazing behavioralists/trainers—we “broke the ice” and she started to find her stride. We went on long walks around Midtown Atlanta, and Raffi relished being able to “go on patrol,” chasing lots of neighborhood squirrels and birds up nearby trees.

Some pups just don’t have ‘The Kid Gene’

As it turned out, Raffi responded well to hug therapy (we sat in a chair together for a few minutes, several times a day) and was even a superb hugger in her own right.

But the progress we made, sadly, came with a realization that Raffi couldn’t handle sudden movements and loud noises young kids make. What started out as reactivity culminated in a bite of my son Cam’s hand (he was fine and no skin was broken, thankfully). Following that episode, with a heavy heart I decided it was better to find a family, without kids, where she could flourish and be loved to ends of the earth—just as we were planning.

But, damn. Just the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, switching from a “Furever Home” to foster family.

Rattie parent for life

Even with this incredibly complex, challenging situation I’m even more sure that I’m a Rat Terrier dad for life. This sweet pup—an angel and extremely agile, smart little person—moved past those early demons and just… shined. She started playing with toys; slept in her crate without making a peep; and started following commands, along with our routine.

Even with Raffi’s discomfort over my son, she still managed to advance and listen and learn.


She surprised me, and quite frankly, I surprised myself. There were a few days/weeks early on when I didn’t think I would be able to make a difference in her life. But I did. And I’ll carry that success in my heart the rest of my life.

In reality, all dog parents are also dog handlers. I’m even more sure of that today after my experience with Raffi: dogs need structure and boundaries and, most of all, love. They are invested in your moods, words and actions, “watching pictures go by” as I wrote in my book, “Leaving Triscuit.”

Bob Barker used to sign off from “The Price is Right” with “Have your pets spayed or neutered,” but he should’ve added: “and take them to obedience classes.” (Note: “obedience” is a misnomer because dogs are wired to learn and it helps them develop foundational behavior and even allows their personalities to come out.)

‘Fly, fly, fly’: Celebrating life and legacy of Triscuit Pollock (2005-2022)

If you’ve never met or parented a Rat Terrier, know this: your life is not complete until you do. They are, in a word, majestic. Smart, sharp, stubborn, loyal and loving. They will change your life.

In reality, I released Raffi’s future—but I also helped her let go of the past. And we’ll be bonded for life as a result. 🐾

(Writer’s note: please consider making a donation—however big or small—to fabulous dog-rescue charities we’ve worked with: Atlanta Humane Society | CCPAL Rescue | Angels Among Us | New Rattitude)

Will Pollocksideways is a perpetually crabby New York City escapee based in Midtown Atlanta. He’s a freelance multimedia journalist, media analyst and author of three books (award-winning Pizza for Good & Leaving Triscuit), and his first children’s book, Gentle with Gertie.

In 2001, Will earned his Masters from The Medill School of Journalism, graduating with highest honors from the magazine sequence. As permanent member of Journalism’s National Honors Society, he’s been active in monitoring, writing and blogging about media and journalism ever since he graduated.

Obsessed with good storytelling and journalistic excellence, Will uses snark, humor and reason to distill dumb shit and make it fun. He’s a seeker/maker of non-consensus news, and helps you cure crankies by finding the nut in every story.

As for-profit media continues to fail us, it’s more important than ever to find reliable sources. Authentic storytelling exists—you just have to look for it. On this blog you’ll get ideas, not ideology. Sass with class. Reporting with rapport. Evidence with a touch of evil. You get the idea.

Support independent authors, writers, artists, journalists and professionals. Buy a book, leave a review, start a discussion. Show solidarity so that we can achieve greater balance and, in the end, learn more.

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