Like many of us, I am finding the world to be increasingly worrisome. Between feeling physically sick about the non-ending reveals of sexual assault and harassment, the relentless attacks on the environment on our fragile globe, and political ideologies based on hate and fear–well, thank God for dogs.
There are days I honestly feel like my dogs are keeping me sane. Here are three tiny things that each of my dogs did that made me feel deeply, truly happy, if just for a moment. (I’ll tell you mine if you’ll tell me yours.)
WILLIE: Saturday morning I nestled in bed while Jim took the dogs outside for their early morning pee. (The dogs, not Jim.) Suddenly I heard barking. It took me a moment to realize it was Jim barking at a pack of coyotes over the hill. Both Jim and I had learned to bark after our last livestock guarding dog Tulip died and there was no one but us to keep the coyotes away. (Making a sound like “Bark” has no effect on coyotes, but yelling out a series of deep, low “Woooooofs” shuts them up instantly.) The Border Collies have never barked at coyotes, but after we began filling in for Tulip, Willie would stand next to us and look confused.
One night, Jim and I ran outside at two in the morning to bark away a pack of coyotes just across the road from our newborn lambs. (Picture two elderly-ish people in bathrobes and slippers, barking at the top of their lungs while standing on a Midwestern front porch. It’s a cartoon waiting for a caption if there ever was one.) Willie stood beside us, silent as usual, until just as the coyotes quieted and our voices got weaker, he let out one quiet Boof. Not Woof. Boof. You know, the kind in which a dog’s mouth is closed, but a little bark pops out almost beyond the dog’s control.
“Good boy!” I said. “Bark, bark, Willie, bark bark.” Jim and I kept barking enthusiastically until Willie let out a louder vocalization and then another. Ever since then, dog and humans stand and bark side-by-side whenever we hear the coyotes. (Maggie stands around, presumably as confused as Willie used to be.) I have no idea if Willie wonders why we are barking–he has always barked at cars pulling up in the driveway, but never at the sound of coyotes–but the fact that we now join in together to protect our farm warms my soul.
MAGGIE: A few days ago I was digging weeds out of the rose garden while Jim was putting up the Christmas lights. (Note: These things do not happen on the same day during a normal year in Wisconsin. But then, what is normal now?) Maggie and Willie were outside with us. After hauling out yet another long dandelion root, I heard a noise behind me. Maggie was enthusiastically digging her own hole in the grass a few feet away, her face shining, her paws the color of earth.
Maggie isn’t a digger. I don’t remember her ever digging a hole until then. I can only conclude that after watching me dig she decided that digging is what we pack members do, and she’d like to do it with me. Not wanting a hole in the grass, I quietly said “No, Maggie, we don’t dig there” and resumed my work. The next day she began digging again beside me as I weeded another garden, and this time I redirected her to another activity.
Saturday I was weeding in another area (I spend a good deal of my life weeding, it’s the price of all those flowers) and Maggie again appeared beside me. This time, she simply lay down a few feet away and stayed there for over a half an hour. That simple act overwhelmed me with it’s power and its implication. We have a huge yard, and there are endless things that Maggie could have been doing in it. But Maggie’s behavior showed that most of all she’d like to be with me, even if she couldn’t do what I was doing.
I’m sure this sounds trivial to many–but it is so easy to take our relationship with dogs for granted. It’s nothing less than a miracle that individuals of another species have become members of our family. Maggie’s simple act of friendship felt profound at that moment, and it warmed my heart for the rest of the afternoon.
TOOTSIE: Tootsie is getting old. She is probably fourteen or fifteen; no way to know for sure since she was rescued from a puppy mill years ago. Her hearing is bad enough now that she doesn’t wake up when we come home; we have to go over to her, stroke her soft shoulders and quietly say hello. She wakes up like a bad actor in a B grade movie, emphatically blinking her eyes and shaking her head, until she finally rises to lick our faces. We suspect that her eyesight is fading, and like so many older dogs, her sleep seems to be deeper and deeper every month. A few times I’ve gone over to her and had a stab of fear that she wasn’t even still alive.
But, Tootsie becomes the expression of all things joyous and ecstatic when it is time for us to leave and give the dogs their customary treat. Willie and Maggie dash into their crates, while Tootsie leaps and spins like a puppy in anticipation of the greenish, dental-cleaning goody that I call the cocaine of dog treats. She is happiness itself, an ear-swirling, eye-gleaming symbol of joy in its purest form.
We adult humans rarely feel this purity of emotion, and if we do we tend to squelch it. Tootsie reminds me every day that tiny moments of delight are all we can really can expect from the world, and that we’d better savor each and every one of them when they come. Send us your tiny dog-related treasures; I think I can speak to the village to say that we’ll all love reading them.
MEANWHILE, back on the farm: Cook, garden, work my sheepdogs, see friends. That’s about as good a weekend as it gets. Not to mention the sunsets. What is going on with them? They’ve been amazing the last week. Here are some photos that Jim took on the way home last week.
Marianne Johnson says
I’m also happy for the little things our dogs do with us. The other day I laid down for a short nap. Our rescue rottweiler, Leisa, came in and plunked her head down on the edge of the bed. I scratched her ears, told her she was a good dog, and shut my eyes. She heaved a sigh, meandered over by the door and plunked herself down on the floor, butt towards me, nose towards the door. She could have meandered another twenty feet to the living room couch, but chose to lay down with me and “guard” the door.
P.S. Our 4 yr. old grand-daughter calls those vivid sunsets, rainbows 🙂
Woke up this morning to my Silky Terrier on the bed next to me, rolled on his back face inches from mine, the way his upside down face litup when he realized I was awake made my day. Thanks for reminding me to notices the small things.
Oh, sweet, dear Maggie. How she loves you! Her story brought tears to my eyes.
My 11½-y-o ADT Hannah was an abused rescue girl. She was afraid of everything — people, objects, sounds, everything that moved…. The first night she was in our home I slept on the floor with her. When she awoke in the morning she had adopted me as her person. For a few minutes the fear was gone and I saw a bright, happy, eager Airedale. I was sore in the morning but I cherish that morning experience with her.
This morning we ran into a neighbor and her dogs while on our morning walk. My male dog Yuki loves these two little dogs and his every movement on our walk together radiates his pleasure in their company – his gait somewhere between a strut and a bounce. This happens every single time we walk with them, even if it is the fourth or fifth day in a row. I can’t help but smile in the face of his joy.
My cattle dog – youngest of the pack – is the one who makes me laugh the most. This semester we had the sulcata tortoise from work living in our backyard for about 2 weeks. He weighs almost as much as she does and while he does not care at all about her, she is infatuated. She followed him around the yard, laid down next to him while he grazed, and even took a nap curled up with him. Every morning she would go outside for her morning pee and bark at him, almost like she was telling him it is time to wake up. Now when I take her to work, she runs into his room in the greenhouse to see him, sniffs him all over and then is ready to just chill next to him. He is her new BFF, it seems.
What absolutely glorious sunset photos. Thank you for sharing them.
Ranger has never been much of a leaner but lately he’s been coming and lightly leaning his head on my thigh when I throw the ball for Finna. And today as he was listening to kids read to him he chose to stretch out along my leg. Normally he chooses to rest against the wall just within touching distance of me. I think he realizes that these days I need that connection a lot. I also love the eagerness with which he responds to the question “ready to go to work?” It’s the word work that gets him moving, when my husband was trying to get him into the car to take to work he asked Ranger if he wanted to go for a car ride. Ranger didn’t even bother to look up. I told hubby to ask if Ranger was ready to go to work. Ranger’s response to that question was to leap up and trot to the gate. And it is always so satisfying to see how people’s faces light up when Ranger comes to visit.
Finna on our walk aborted a lunge after a car when I yelled no. I’d been picking up after her and hadn’t noticed the car coming so hadn’t done any of our usual routine for managing her behavior around cars. It made me so proud. There was a time when she couldn’t have even heard me when confronted with a trigger like a car going by and not only did she hear me but she listened! And this was a car only a few feet away!
And finally I’ll share a couple of amusing stories of life with the menagerie. Ranger continues to be utterly fascinated with Purrcasso, the new kitten. Ranger is too polite to push through a closed door. Purrcasso on one side of the door hooks his paw under it and pulls it open. Ranger starts through and Purrcasso pushes it closed in his face. Ranger backs away and waits until Purrcasso pulls the door open again then pushes it shut again when Ranger starts to come in. This game went on and on until I got tired of it and redirected them both.
At night Ranger and Finna take turns sleeping one across the front door and one across our bedroom door. Since Purrcasso is inclined to cause mischief if given unsupervised access to the rest of the house he sleeps with us. In the middle of the night he reached under the door and goosed Finna who woke up with a start wondering why the door had suddenly stabbed her. She spent the next several minutes marching up and down the hall grumbling and barking. She still sleeps in front of the bedroom door but no longer resting against the door.
They are a never-ending source of entertainment, love, and support.
Such lovely words and images. It brought me peace to read them. These little dogs make the crazy world a little more bearable.
We’ve had the same crazy cool sunsets here in Minnesota. It’s been wonderful to see.
My Morghie (a scottie) accompanies me as I wander around taking photographs; she is never more than a few feet from my side. Often, I will sit on the ground for 20 minutes or more in one spot, trying to get that perfect close up shot; and Morghie is right beside me, looking about. More often than not, she positions herself so that she is at least touching me in some way. Most of the time, she is off leash (if I’m on home ground,) but the leash is around my neck in case of squirrels…. I’m always humbled by her dedication and companionship. When I leave her at home to go to work, I’ll go back, having forgotten something; and I’ll find her sitting and waiting in the exact spot where I kissed her goodbye for the day. We should all wonder at the blessings dogs bring!
Oh, it is the little things. I remember a few years ago telling the story of an Olive moment when she let me pull a piece of grass out of her butt. One of her touchy issues is her tail (well, she doesn’t have a tail someone amputated it at some point and probably not in the most humane way possible.) In the past, when she pooped and there was a piece of grass or hair dangling, she would flip out. Twirl and panic and not know what to do. On that particular day, she had a piece of grass dangling, and she did a little twirl and then sat down and looked at me as if to say, “Ahem, can you help me with this?” She waited calmly while I cleaned her butt! It was a pivotal moment.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago, and the recent move for Olive has been a bit traumatic. From floors she wouldn’t walk on at first to a neighborhood full of new smells and sounds, she is doing the best she can with help from us (and l’theanine and a nightly melatonin).
For the first few weeks we slept on a mattress on the floor (windows being installed in the bedrooms). One night Olive kept startling awake and would rush and snark at Phoebe, who was sleeping soundly. (Luckily Phoebe does not react to these affronts.) I called Olive over to me, and she snuggled into the blanket and me as hard as she could and let out a deep sigh. We spent the entire night entwined in an embrace. If she startled, I would say quietly that it was alright, and she was fine. I could feel the tension slowly release and eventually she went into a deep sleep. She has been slowly relaxing and getting used to things since that long night — one paw at a time.
Also, thank you for posting your Google talk. It was a great reminder to stop, look, and readjust. We forget that sometimes we need to repeat and reenforce and not assume. Perfect timing.
Chloe De Segonzac says
Yes, of. Ourse I understand!
I will tell you one story. It happened a long time ago almost 12 years. My BC Baruch was 3-1/2 months. We lived in a town house with a housemate. I was on my way our with Baruch when she stopped at the door put her nose in my housemate shoe and wagged her tail before moving on. That gesture really touched me. It meant that she had picked up the smell of a friend and that made her happy.
She has been a very anxious dog. The city is not a great place for her but the country also has many noises that would send her running. She is rarely relaxed in my company preferring the basement or her comfy bed in the closet of my bedroom. I feel sad and guilty that I was unable to bring more peace for her and also a loss that I do not have a dog in my company. But it gives me immense happiness when on occasion we are in a very quiet Housesit or at the beach and she acts like a happy pup again.
I was coming down with something. My body ached and I was chilled to the bone. I threw a blanket over myself and laid on my side on the couch shivering. Soon there was a Papillon curled up at my stomach. She was joined by another on my side and her daughter on my hip. My Malinois found a spot behind my knees.My wonderful companions warmed me from the heart out.
It totally melts my heart when our little Cavalier Sammy hops up on the couch and snuggles herself next to me so that she can have her head and front legs on my lap while I am reading or watching TV. It is the best feeling in the world to know that she just wants to be as close as possible.
I too feel blessed and restored by the companionship of our dogs and the Daily Zen they bring to our lives.
I also can’t stand the daily bad news but am actually cheered by the harassment allegations coming out … something likely every woman alive, ever, has experienced in some way at some time. #metoo
That really, really broad grin that splits the face of my Australian Cattle Dog when he finds the “lost item” and shows it to me (I’m training him to find and point out lost personal items like hairbands, keys, rings etc. – not only mine but other people’s as well). He seems to be very proud of himself and at the same time asks for my approval of his performance. This kind of grin always makes me laugh and my heart overflow.
When I’m sick and that same hyper dog jumps gently (!) on the bed/sofa I’m lying on, nuzzles his head against my body and takes a nap by my side. This is so comforting and somehow feels like the heeler wants to be a healer. Even if it was only for getting me back to action…
And there are those tiny silent moments I have had countless times with all of my dogs, present and past: when you look at each other and there is nothing but a deep understanding and love. Well, sometimes followed by a headbutt and wet kisses or a slimy tennisball on the lap. But who cares.
KC Wilson says
I’m a snowbird and am currently in Arizona enjoying a warm winter with my two dogs, Olive and Tula. Tula is 14.5 and also losing her hearing and some sight. But, she still prances like a puppy and chases balls as though she were a 4 year old. Every time I take her to the park someone asks me if she is a puppy because of her demeanor. That makes me happy. Olive, a JRT, pushes/herds a Jolly Egg toy around the park with her nose and entertains everyone who witnesses this behavior. What skill!
Chris Dolson says
Perfect timing on this post. Just last night I got voluntold that I should lead a session on the Spirituality of pets. The “small miracles” described have inspired me. When my IWS and I hold eye contact, it’s the purest sense of the spirit in me seeing the spirit in her. When I hold my frightened, phobic mini dachshund close and our hearts beat next to each other, I’m grateful for the comfort we can provide each other.
Our 6-year-old 100-lb rescue lab mix tore both ACL’s and his right meniscus a couple of years ago, but this past year has finally healed enough that he is really acting like himself again. Most recently, he started “dancing” with me again (this involves me dancing around the kitchen and him slapping my feet while in full butt-wiggle). Filled my heart to the brim to see him do something he had done as a puppy but hadn’t done in more than three years. We’ve danced every day this week. 🙂
First, to Kat: The games between Purcasso, Ranger and Finna had me in stitches. If you could get a video of that it would be viral in seconds.
To Winnifred and all #metoo’ers. I agree absolutely: It is wonderful that we are finally able to use our voices. It does feel as though this time there actually might be a change in the culture. There is a down side though… I know I’m not the only one who is struggling a bit with old baggage because of the relentless parade of assault, abuse and simply disgusting behavior that is emerging from the slime. We’ll get through it, but it is a tad challenging.
To all the other comments so far: I have read every one. Twice. You have made my day. And to think I get to read more as the days go on. So many more tiny treasures are in store. Oh boy.
Bill J Widmann says
As Jake continues to mature he brings great joy and wonderment to our lives. He is still somewhat of a wild child at 20 months. Yet his training is beginning to pay off…recall has improved markedly in the past month and a half. Now that the soybeans are harvested we have huge flat empty fields to rip and tear in. Chasing the cloth frisbee brings out an exuberance that is delightful…and watching him come prancing back with the frisbee and soybean chaff hanging out of his mouth makes me laugh. I cannot imagine life without a dog to enrich it.
I can picture you and Jim in your bathrobes and slippers barking at the coyotes! After losing my Guard barker, I took to doing the same with my puppy. He was afraid when he first heard the coyorptes so close, so we barked and howled away his fear, and scared them off outer mountain, much to our delight!
Ah, the “boof.” My guy Gunner (who also lives to sleep under the covers) does that in his sleep. He’ll actually wake himself up, escalate to louder boofing (it’s not really his bark, but something short of it) and then pause, as if to go “What the heck am I doing?” Nothing like being woken by your bed cover boofing at you.
I owe our guys gratitude for inspiring happiness just about everyday with their habits and personalities, but the best is when they choose to be close to you.
In the spirit of this post, I highly recommend the book “Guardians of Being” by Eckhart Tolle and with great illustrations by Patrick McDonnell (the creator of the MUTTS comic strip). It is a short, coffee table-type book that highlights how animals can show us the joy to be found in the present moment.
Our 11 year old Lab, Raider, has been slowing down and showing weakness in his rear legs. We have discovered that an old sofa cushion on the floor gives him just enough help that he can get on our leather couch. It makes me smile to see him stretched out all comfy with his big head in my lap. He’s a gentle soul.
Wendy Gren says
Tripp The Wonderdog, my JRT is aging. Sight and hearing mostly gone, but the nose still works. Sound asleep, under the covers, of course, and she smells the deer passing through the back yard. WARNING! WARNING! INTRUDERS! Good girl! Now instead of running downstairs begging to chase the deer, she accepts a pat on the head and returns to her warm spot under the covers behind my knees. Perfect happiness.
Those sunset photos are awesome! Yes, here in Michigan it has been unseasonably warm, the plants and trees are not sure what is going on. Very very different to say the least. I too am more than distressed at the assault on our planet and people, but I continue to watch the news to stay informed and abreast of the turmoil, so my dog is also a source of comfort, fun and warmth. Sometimes when I am sitting on the floor watching the news she will come behind me and lay her head on my shoulder, my heart melts! Often I say to her “how’d I get so lucky to get the best dog in the world”! She is the heart of my home, and what I got to protect me and my home, well I am now the fierce protecter!!! I saw a sign that sums up for me “I want to be the person my dog thinks I am”. Thanks for an excellent blog.
Margaret Jones says
Your coyote story reminded me of my old spaniel, Ben. When I was a teenager (sadly many years ago now), we used to howl together. I always remember what a great feeling of companionship it was. A feeling that he’d allowed me to enter his world. We’d sit on the doorstep on an autumn evening, stare at the moon and happily howl away. The cat, who brought Ben up, used to give us such a look of disgust!
We rescued,Rosie, our 4-1/2 y/o Great Pyr at 10 mos. and felt completely in over our heads as we discovered that she would fiercely guard anything that she perceived as hers. That included me, her food, her bed, toys (though she didn’t play with them), and even her water bowl. She was terrified of cars driving by us on walks or strong wind in the backyard. She was also reactive to all other people inside or outside of the house and our female Lhasa-Poo. She was fine with the male and our two cats – unless they came anywhere near her food, bed, etc. My wife and I have both had dogs our whole lives and never encountered such a challenging situation. The first time Rosie gave me “the stare” and curled her lips back, I was really shaken and thought that maybe we had made a mistake in adopting her.
We read every book we could find (all of yours more than once!) and watched hours of YouTube videos, and while she progressed little by little, still ended up biting our adult daughter. It was a warning bite – she didn’t break the skin – but it left a large bruise and I was concerned that the next time would be more serious.
Our vet suggested that we take her to a behaviorist. We did and it was recommended after a 3 hour assessment that she be put on Prozac for her anxiety. I am all about homeopathic remedies and will always try holistic methods first, but nothing we had tried seemed to help her relax. We also changed her to a grain free diet and found out we were over feeding her. That was 2 years and nearly 40 lbs ago.
This morning, our sweet girl was pressed up against me on her back, back feet in the air, snoring away. She jumps up on the bed every night and snuggles in between us until she’s had her fill of belly rubs and butt scratches. The best thing, though, is that Rosie has learned to play.
Last week, I had to postpone our morning playtime because I had a work thing to attend to. I work at home so we normally have play/training sessions morning and afternoon. As I sat at the computer trying to figure out my client’s issue, Rosie shoved a cold nose under my elbow to let me know it was time to play. I told her to go lay down and we’d play in a little while. She left the office.
A few minutes later, the nose again but this time she had one of her little stuffed chipmunks – her babies – in her mouth. I told her to go lay down and I’d be right there. Again, she trotted out of the office, only to come back a few seconds later with all three little chipmunks in her mouth and, staring intently at me, slowly lowered herself into a play bow. I laughed so hard and felt so overwhelmed at how lucky we are to have this beautiful girl in our family.
Thanks for all your amazing work!
Sally Franz says
When Mikey (9 yr. old Shitzu/Bishon mix) hears me stirring or reaching for my phone in the morning, he doesn’t budge. But as soon as I turn on the bedside lamp, he stretches and oozes up within scratching range. He sits, chin in the air, eyes closed, leaning into the scratching and making little purr-like sounds. After a while, he’ll turn belly-up for a good belly rub. When I finally do get up, he stretches energetically, then picks his spot, usually on my pillow, for his waiting-for-breakfast-&-walk nap. What a beautiful way to start my day!
I wrote this about my dogs and in particular my beautiful golden retriever Ripley after he died in October. I went through a bad time with the breakup of my marriage. I don’t know what I would have done without my dogs. Ripley will be the June golden for the 2018 grrow In January of 2006 I was volunteering at the Jackson County Animal Shelter. I mostly walked dogs. I had seen this puppy who I was sure would find a home and a week later he was still there. The shelter was full. I took him for a walk and could tell he was incredibly smart. He had already been through two homes.
I took him home, and fell in love with him that day.
You take a dog in and give them a home and in return they give you EVERYTHING they have.
My boys and especially this precious golden retriever helped me through one of the hardest times of my life with his loving intuitiveness and joyful demeanor. I saved him, and he saved me.
Ripley died on thursday of hemangiosarcoma.
I will miss him for the rest of my life.
Melissa Stinson says
When I get home, my Dixie dog is waiting by the gate for me. She follows me down the driveway barking and bouncing and then runs around the house as fast as she can. Another time is when the alarm goes off and Rocky dog does his morning snuggles, tucking his head into my shoulder and snuffling. And I can’t forget my Sophie, who loves to go fishing with my husband. When she gets home she always runs inside and finds me to let me know they’re home. They fill our lives and our home with so much love!
Harriet Markell says
I fractured my ankle a few weeks ago and am getting around on crutches and a knee scooter. I have a big black boot on my foot. My little terrier/poodle rescue, who’s been with me a year, is very noise sensitive and, of course wary of changes in her environment. Initially she wouldn’t come near me/the scooter, the crutches. Nor the ramp into the living room. There was a step stool at the top of the stairs to help me hoist myself up and down – that became a huge problem when her leash wrapped around the leg and sent it banging down the stairs and onto the wood floor. She would not go up and down the stairs. She spent a whole night outside – would not come in til someone went and picked her up. I put her in her favorite boarding kennel for a week to give her some positive experience and re-set her nervous system. She had a ball. I brought her home 2 days ago, having put a crate near my chair in the dining room and throwing cheese around the scooter and crutches as I moved around. Slowly she’s been coming closer as I navigate around the downstairs. But the first night, she wouldn’t come upstairs (she usually sleeps on the bed right next to me), so I just let her stay in her crate. Last night, after 2 sessions of whining at the bottom of the stairs and going back to her crate, she braved the step stool, crutches, etc., and jumped on the bed, cuddling up right next to me. Testimony to how much she wants to be with me that she overcame those fears – I was so happy and slept so soundly all night – a major victory for her and so much reassurance for me. She bounded down the stairs this morning to go for her walk with my roommate – seemingly oblivious of the stool and crutches. It’s all I need. It’s a painful world right now, and yes, our pets mean all that much more to us.
Thank you for this post! Every day I am so grateful for my dogs making me laugh and keeping me sane. Some small things–
Daisy Furball my Aussie x, when a young dog, came up while I was sitting and weeding. She watched me, then began to sample the plants she thought I had been touching. She asked me, is this what we are doing mom? Realized I had a little smarty and would have to be careful what I weeded with her nearby 🙂
Sassafras, who with her short coat will come and gently nose me in the night to ask me to open the covers and allow her to curl up with me underneath, all 60 pounds. She is my wonderful hound.
Meko the Indian street dog who has been such a challenge and such a blessing. For him, every day he expresses his joy in life by using his young super athletic body to bounce and leap around the yard. Like Tigger.
Another funny one with Meko who is, shall we say, very space sensitive. Doesn’t like anyone too close while he sleeps. One night, Sassafras left her spot under the covers. A dog came and curled up in the same spot, oriented exactly the same way, spooned in with me. I thought Sass had come back and petted, only to find a slightly smaller and more bristly dog curled up there. Only happened that once so far. He is uncanny smart. At least he was cold enough to try it!
Love this thread <3
I’m having chemotherapy just now and my two yr old Golden, Charlie, ( normally an energetic and active pup) has been literally by my side the whole time. He has accepted the fact that I can’t run with him in the park and play games…better than I have. When I’m sick, he waits by the bathroom door and then walks me back to the couch. When my hubby takes him out for walks, he goes reluctantly and rushes back to me with a big smile when they return. He has warmed my heart and helped me stay optimistic.
Before my diagnosis, I was planning to work with him as a Therapy Dog…he had just passed the test…so I’m not surprised. But so grateful. And I hope to return to that work when this is done!
Trisha–please please PLEASE post a video of barking at the coyotes! Not so that we can see you in your pjs on the porch 😉 but I think that could come in very handy! Always wonder what we are saying when I howl with one of my dogs. We have large coywolves around here nowadays. Thanks!!
Jan Silloway says
Hi Patricia, my best friend just sent me a picture of Luka, their Corgi, happy as can be in a motel room! My friends live in Ventura, CA, and don’t know if they still have a house, due to the raging wildfires. She said “I think Luka thinks we’ve moved here! He’s happy as can be, and just wants snacks!” What a life lesson! As long as you’re safe with your family, you’re golden! But snacks….. remember the snacks!!
My 13 1/2 yr old PWC, Walter, has arthritis and weakness in his hindquarters so I’ve been carrying him up and down the steps to and from our deck for him to do his business in the back yard. Last night, after a day of blizzard conditions, he ran out into the snow on the deck, ran down his ramp and around and around in the snow! I was just getting my boots on to go out and retrieve him when he suddenly appeared at the door all by himself. He just loves the snow and it made my heart just sing to see him so happy!
Jean Phillips says
I usually listen to NPR on my way home from work each day. So often anymore there is some bit of news that really upsets me, but when I get home and my dogs greet me with such honest joy, the terrible news I heard fades away. Bender, my rescued BC looks at my with such love and admiration as he hands me his frisbee! Capri, my sweet BC girl wiggles her whole body wagging her tail for me, and Petey my very senior JRT, musters up enough strength to get all 4 of the floor at my homecoming. All of their love pushes the anger and frustration right out of me!
It is definitely the little things my dogs do that fill my heart with love and happiness.
Louise Wholey says
Maybe not just the little things? Our 55 lb rescue (shepherd mix?), Robby, found a new game that is incredibly funny to watch. My husband bought some red balloons to cover his flashlight when star gazing, but he had far too many of them. So he blew one up and started bouncing it up to entertain Robby. Robby caught on in a flash and started bouncing the balloon off his nose (actually trying to bite it). He was all over the place, including jumping high up on furniture, chasing it. It was hilarious!
Sue Hills says
Many years ago when my golden Tango was young, she watched me planting potatoes. She sat and watched for a while, trying to figure it out. I was nearly done with the largish plot when I looked behind me to see her carefully unburying the potato I’d just planted. Every potato in the plot was unburied and sitting right next to where I’d planted it and she had that look of “this is a dead easy and kinda boring game but we can play it if you want to. “
By that Fall when I was planting lily bulbs, she knew she shouldn’t dig things up. But I’d planted the lilies with bone meal. I watched from the window one day as she slinked into the garden, looked over her shoulder to see if I was there, and carefully dug up a lily bulb, licked all the bone meal off, and then buried the bulb again. Not necessarily right side up.
It’s been 16 years or more and another dog has come and gone since she died but Tango and I had an eye to eye, soul deep bond unlike any before or since.
This is something that entertains me. We bought our now 8 month old Aussie a whole bag of tennis balls and turned the kitchen into a mini ball pit. She never gets tired of them, but has to keep trapping them in a corner. Our son is now calling her “Tennis-saurus Rex”. He made a video, too: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lL5t8XqyH_E&list=LL5rwXaM-F1ThzpkFZb7KwYQ&index=2
Dahlia, my retired greyhound melts my heart with her funny and sweet antics. I sat across from her in the sunroom. She was stretched out on her loveseat. Once I was situated she started talking to me. When she realized I wasn’t getting up to pet her, she hopped off and came over to get attention. Then she kept looking over at her loveseat and back at me repeatedly. I got up and sat on the loveseat and she happily hopped up and curled up next to me. 😊
My Aussie watches tv if he sees or hears something he recognizes (and most likely he looks at a lot that he doesn’t recognize but would sure like to figure out.) NatGeo Wild is a fav..and one episode about eagles had him transfixed. He was sitting up on the couch next to me and often through the show, he would turn to me to see if I saw what he did…swear he was saying, “Wow! did you see that, ?” He hasn’t been able to figure out where critters go when they exit the screen, though 🙂 He wants to go outside and check the outside wall that the tv is up against. Wonder if he’ll ever figure out that they are trapped in the box!! LOL He seems to know certain animals or people if it’s something he has seen in reality before; I see different reactions to dogs or birds or children. But there’s nothing better than a tv watching couch buddy and nature channels for respite from the news channels.
Lisa Green says
We just lost our Zoey a month ago, so I’m simultaneously loving these posts and missing her like crazy. One of my favorite rituals was that when I would sit at my harp, Zoey would come up and put her paws on my knees, at which point I would pick her up and we would snuggle a bit before I had to start practicing. It was almost like she was my good-practice charm. Now it’s hard to even get started.
Patricia — I’m so glad you posted the Google video. It was so great to hear and see you again. I miss your radio show. Way, way back, when I was contemplating getting my first dog, I listened to your show and it gave me the confidence that I could take care of a dog.
Nannette Morgan says
Our little morning ritual with my two Siberians makes me smile. My 11 year old female is hard of hearing but still enjoys training. I love seeing the little husky smile and light in her eyes as we work on our “What’s Up?” hand signal for a look up in exchange for one of my Cheerios. I learned this trick this summer working with the foxes at Wolf Park in IN. So while she (Cricket) practices that, I’m teaching my 3 1/2 y.o. Dugie to smell the Cheerio in my closed hand to learn how to “breathe” to calm down (Karen Overall protocol). They so look forward to this.
Loved the other examples above too. My Dugie does multiple spins when it’s food time, learned from his dam. I now enjoy seeing this instead of worrying about it (being a behavior consultant can be a curse!) I look forward to reading more responses!
The Pug is remarkably empathetic. Visiting with friends this week, she spends most of her time snuggled up against the PTSD-affected veteran husband. We always have a hard time getting the Pug back from this family.
While nursing something viral I went on a 20-hour binge (Band of Brothers and The Pacific, not booze). 55-pound Red Dog spent the majority of the time draped on my lap or croissant-curled against my side. Even at 3 years old this dog has two speeds: full go and full stop. That was a lot of full stop.
When we first got sweet, fearful Sammy mix she would bark frantically any time I was standing in the same room. She would approach calmly if I was on the floor or seated, but standing caused panic. Now she lets me step over her with nothing more than a look of mild annoyance.
“Boof” also reminded me of a story. Sammy barks and spins with frantic excitement before her dinner (did I mention that she is a vocal dog?). I mime “shhh” and halt the process until she stops barking. Usually success is marked with one final muffled “boof”, followed by “good dog!” and dinner.
Maggie’s digging reminded me of an interesting behavior from the Sammy. Spouse gave the dogs each a chewy, and Sammy decided to bury hers in the yard. Dogs exhibit stereotypical behavior when burying treats: they dig the hole with their front paws and then use their snout to bury the food.
Sammy added an interesting twist: she found a carpet square in the yard and carefully placed the carpet square over the filled-in hole. I frequently wonder whether dogs are smarter than we credit (and the Sammy is hardly the sharpest tool in the shed).
Our Wisconsin sunsets have been AMAZING as of late. Proof in our tumultuous world, that much is still “good”.
Marlies Mitchell says
My life has a similar theme to yours. And I ended up with a Border Collie, Hamish, rescued off the side of a road. Life as I knew ended, a good thing. I found you a decade ago or Hamish was going to have to learn how to pay the mortgage. Today I have 4 BC’s, one of whom prefers to live with my ex-husband on a lake. Last year I threw the senior pack into chaos by adopting a rescued puppy, Sid. It was obvious he was livestock bred and took great offense to living in an urban environment. We’re training for Agility (a poor substitute for herding). Every evening we go in the back yard to play “ball-ball,” and he’s accepted the Chuck-it ball as a sudo-sheep. I love our pack sunsets. I read “The Education of Will” in one sitting and know what it took for you to go to these dark places or rather be herded there by Will. My collies make life worth living, and you make living with my collies possible. Thank-you is not adequate. But if I could I would bark with you at the Coyotes to express my gratitude.
Kathy Northover says
Years ago, my heart dog, Kelly (a standard poodle) was walking the beach with me in Gloucester Ma. while I attempted to rescue many live clams which were stranded on the beach. I would pick up and toss each clam back into the sea. Another beach walker laughed and pointed behind me. I turned around and saw Kelly had jumped into the water and fetched each clam I had thrown back. There they were, back on the beach, all in a line behind me. I loved her so much.
Last week I came home while my three GSDs were outside with my husband. While I drove slowly on my driveway Miley and 95 pound Casey attempted to pass the car. Casey bumped Miley who fell beneath the car. Broken pelvis, major bruising and dislocated hip. One hind leg is trussed up in the hopes that her hip will heal without surgery. She is on ex-pen rest and must be walked carefully using a sling to hold up her hind end. I am exhausted with guilt and with Miley’s care and being sure the other dogs get the care and attention they need too.
Casey and Miley are play buddies. But now there is no racing, wrestling, tumbling, play fighting. He is bereft.
On this gorgeous sunny morning I was outside doing chores when Casey approached me with a big play bow. I nearly rebuffed him. Fortunately I caught myself in time and we enjoyed a round of bouncing play that ended with him happily rolling in frosty leaves. Seeing his happy laughing face made me laugh too. The vet says Miley has a 60% to 70% chance of complete recovery and I am holding on to that hope. Meanwhile, Casey reminds me that there is still time for fun, even though I am a poor substitute for Miley.
Thank you for the perfect post to read today! I agree with you on feeling saddened by all of the horrible news in the world lately. I don’t want to stick my head in the sand but some days I can’t bear to watch the news or even look at social media.
I have been struggling to recover from a cold I got over Thanksgiving. I thought I turned the corner yesterday but today I still feel exhausted. My poor dogs have not been walked in longer than I care to admit. I have 3 reactive dogs so each one goes on a walk alone. It should be great exercise for me but instead there are times I don’t walk any of them when I only have the energy to maybe just walk one. They have been suffering from cabin fever and today was even harder as I had a service person in the house for about an hour – did I mention I have 3 reactive dogs?!?!? I can’t believe how fast they cleaned out not one but two stuffed, frozen Kongs each and then still had time to bark!
Anyway, thank you for the post to remind me to look at the bright side and be grateful for the joy my dogs do bring to my life (just not today!). Oh and the sunset photos were gorgeous, those helped too!
Christine Bandy says
This is a wonderful post. Thank you for it.
Jann Becker says
Our first dog together was a BC/Aussie shepherd–just a wee bit compulsive. Whenever he heard a siren he’d race out into the yard and howl along. After a while we sort of took him for granted.
On a routine trip to the vet I parked across the street from the fire station, and as we were going back to the car the lights flashed, the door rolled up, and the trucks pulled out, sirens going full blast; it was like a religious experience for Sammie!
My rather challenging rescued double-merle border collie curled up under my desk at my feet the other night as I was working. He is so flighty he is hard to interact with, and skitters away from contact most of the time, but somehow he felt safe in that space in that moment. I wish I could create more such moments for him. The old epileptic Aussie hates having his feet washed. But the other evening, as I bent down to hose off the mud (it is warm water!), he gave me a certain look. “I hate this, but I know you love me!”
I am down to two dogs after 20 plus years running sled dogs and keeping a 20-30 dog lot. My current two (one is half standard poodle/half German wirehair pointer and the other is half English Mastiff/half assorted shepherds etc.) accompany me to our Center for individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities. Dexter, the poodle cross, is an empath. He places his tall, but delicate frame next to anyone who needs some attention and sits up placing one or two paws (sometimes crossed) delicately on their leg or arm. Rue, our Mastiff mix is a large, love, unaware of body space, but giving anyone, especially the little ones, her entire body to pet, hug and is amazingly tolerant of close examination of her ears, eyes, and that huge mouth. The two have frequent offers of homes should they ever need a new one!
Sandra Hafer says
My old dog, Buddy, who is closer to 16 than 15 right now, is hard of hearing, his eyesight is very poor and he has severe arthritis is his shoulder and hind leg. Yet when I walk close to him, he gingerly gets up and follows me where ever I decide to settle next. That simple act always warms my heart. It’s a struggle for him to move around, but he simply wants to be with me.
Julie Fitzpatrick says
Marcus wants me to move out west and tend sheep all day long. I just got back from Colorado and I needed to sort the sheep back into the breeding group, replacement group and the group to be sold. He is such a big helper and just loves real work. I get so much joy out of having Marcus as my right hand man.
Our new Doug, age 5, a yellow lab from a rescue, goes nuts when it is time to go out. So, we started ignoring him for a bit. He quickly learned barking wasn’t working, so he’s trying hard to sit and get the leash on. We realized he now picks up his pink elephant to try and calm himself. Then we can get going! So cute. I agree dogs help us in this stressful time.
I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of the cute little things my dogs do that make me realize how much they bring to my life. I got nothing. That’s so interesting to me as they are my world. I guess it’s just their company and companionship and adorableness that keeps me going.
I love hearing stories about dogs who know when their owners are sick or distraught. My dogs have never been like that. Once, I fell and broke my arm while walking my dog in NYC late at night. She had pulled me suddenly to a curb that I didn’t see and I went down. I actually passed out for a microsecond and when I came to, I saw her traipsing down the street singing “I’m off the leash, I’m off the leash…” I had to stumble up and call after her to come back, which she thankfully did.
However, they do follow me everywhere I go, so they must like me. And most of the time just looking at them looking back at me is enough to send me into spasms of gratefulness at their presence in my life. So I’m good. 🙂
Diane Mattson says
My husband and I recently bought a house. My father took ill, and I couldn’t be there on moving day, as he lives in another town. When I arrived at our new home, Bridget was ecstatic to see me, and then proceeded to show me around every inch of the new house. She would look back occasionally to make sure I was still paying attention. I’m sure she was saying, “Look at our new house. Did you know we live somewhere else now? Isn’t it cool?”
Minnesota Mary says
So many memories of small moments that made my heart sing at the time! One that stands out because of the vocalization is this. I was walking my two huskies and my mixed-breed girl, along with my foster husky one evening. Sirens from rescue vehicles started to sound all around us – we were surrounded by them. Raised as a Catholic I have a couple of prayers I say whenever I hear a siren.
The huskies started softly howling along with the rescue vehicle sirens just as I started my prayers. It was as if they were gently lifting my prayers higher and giving them support.
Decades ago, when my mom was still living, she would wake up in the middle of the night with asthma attacks. To keep from waking the rest of the family, she would go downstairs, take her meds, and pace (wheezing) up and down the downstairs hallways, waiting until she could breathe normally and go back to sleep.
Our little dog (supposedly “my” dog, but in reality the *dog* chooses whose dog he is, and he was emphatically mom’s dog) would get up from his bed and follow at her heels, pacing back and forth behind her until she went back up to bed. He did this even as he got elderly and arthritic, and (as old dogs do) got more attached to his bed.
He would always get up with her, even if she tried to shoo him back to bed. He seemed to feel it was his “job” to keep sick people company–if any of us kids got sick, he would always station himself at the foot of the sick person’s bed, quietly comforting.
When people talk about dogs being “loyal” it is always that picture I hold in my mind, of that little yellow mutt getting up in the middle of the night to pace with my mom, patient and quiet at her heels, giving comfort by his presence.
(okay, now I’m crying. when he finally died, my mom was so brokenhearted that she never got another dog, even though she loved dogs.)
Kim S says
I have an American Bulldog that will sit with his back to me and tip his head back to look at me without turning around. This causes his hear to straight to peaks and his full lips to make him look like his giving an upside-down smile. It makes me smile and reminds me to look at life from a different view if I don’t care for the one I have.
Ranger listens to kids read at the library and it cracks me up watching him train the librarians. The library branch manager comes to check in with us and is talking to me but not petting Ranger. He gives her a very pointed stare and quiet bark. She apologizes and pets him. After a bit he gives her a very direct “pay attention” look then looks at the circulation desk, the librarians there haven’t come to pet him yet. The branch manager calls over each librarian so they can pet Ranger. She neglects calling the one that was actively checking out books and Ranger again gives her the very direct “pay attention” look then looks pointedly at the librarian who was not called over to pet him. By now she’s done with the patron and is called over to pet Ranger. Ranger settles on his blanket to wait for kids to come read to him. This dog is an exceptional communicator. Everyone understands what he wants and is more than happy to give it to him. And each time we go to the library they are better at anticipating what he wants. I’ve refrained from telling them how pleased Ranger is with their training progress. That can stay our little secret.
Simon Fellows says
..you’re so very lovely to read.Your humility and adoration of the poochs in our lives radiate.Thanks much for the blog and your work especially.
Our rescue pup, Janie, needs to constant practice to keep up her social skills, so we take a lot of training classes, leaving 13+ year old lab Stella behind. Stell is losing her vision and hearing and is stiff after exercising but can still lope for miles. This month we decided to take both of them to a manners class at the Humane Society (Portland) full of rambunctious teenage dogs. Stella knows lots of commands and tricks and is more focused on food than ever, so I was pretty smug – big mistake. Me: Stella, watch. Stella: bark, bark, bark (translation, give me those goll-darned treats!). She yanked me towards other dogs, grabbed food, scarfed junk off the floor, wouldn’t settle – worse than when she was a pup! It made me feel like we were both young again.
Louisa Morrissey says
Thank you for a beautiful post. It is indeed difficult times in which we live. But our dogs help us hold onto the dream of a world that is respectful, just, sustainable and kind. I read your post last night, then realized what a joy it is to wake up with 5 border collies all over the bed in the morning as the sun rises through the windows. They, of course, want me to get out of bed because it is breakfast time… but are willing to give a little snuggle time too. What a great way to great the day. Thanks again for your inspiring post… and may we someday make this world one that reflect the loyalty, honesty, friendship and love and of our dogs.
Chris from Boise says
Like HFR, I’ve been thinking all week about this, and really (really, really!) appreciating its contrast with what’s on the daily news.
Tiny moments with Obi: how he flings himself between my outstretched legs for his weekly pedicure. Obi lives his whole life with enthusiasm – but even for nail trims? What a guy!
Tiny moments with Habi: Our girl, now approximately thirteen, has been dealing with physical issues (and possibly the first stages of cognitive decline) for the last few months. She’s pretty frail, and is sleeping a lot. But when she’s up, she’s raring to go. I caught a bit of her trail-happiness in this short video from mid-November – it makes my heart sing. (Warning: Turn down the volume before you open it, as my bellowed “Come” is pretty loud). https://youtu.be/0TRNxVKeT_k
[Slightly off-topic, for those of you in your dog’s senior years: we have found two excellent guides to this stage of Habi’s life: Eileen Anderson’s book “Remember Me?” about dealing with canine cognitive dysfunction, and Fenzi Dog Sports Academy’s six-week online class “Helping Dogs Thrive: Aging Dogs”. Both have helped keep us focused on how we can maintain her quality of life as she ages. I can’t recommend them highly enough.]
I thought of something! When I come home from work I quickly go upstairs to get out of my work clothes and into something much more comfortable. My older 90 lb dog (almost 12) will get on the bed to watch me as I rush around the room and get clothes ready for the next day. I inevitably stop and sit on the bed to hug him (he’s one of those dogs who likes to be hugged) while he buries his head into my chest . When I move away, he swats me with his big ol’ paw asking me not to stop. It is the sweetest thing, but then HE is the sweetest thing. Oh, and when I’m greeting him at the door and I hug his neck, he just whines and whines with a mixture of happiness and relief. I’m still not sure he would save me if I fell down a well, but it wouldn’t be because he doesn’t care. Sheesh, I love that guy.
Carol Clark says
I’m currently resting on my sofa with my collie, Gus, beside me. I am honoured when he does this as he is not a cuddly dog. Helps me remember to make the most of the good times.
My older dog and I were sitting in the sunshine in the field. I was using my gloved hand to remove bunches of his summer coat, his winter fur especially wavy and lush this year. He was watching the cars on the highway. I asked him if he liked watching the cars, since he normally doesn’t pay them any attention. Sitting in front of me, he turned his head ninety degrees and made eye contact. Then resumed the watch. I asked if he thought about all of the people in the cars. He looked at me again, paused and looked away. I asked if he thought of the road like a big trail just for cars. And did he remember that sometimes there are little trails for us to walk running alongside the big car trails. Still looking at me now, I realized that I was getting carried away. He could be just listening to my voice without a thought for my words. Or he could be pleased by my fur removal technique that sort of combines massage. Any way, the timing of his glances are impeccable and enough to convince me of our conversation. And I found my moment of dogs keeping me sane in an exchange that others may classify as totally crazy- my talks with my dog.
When I go out, Daisy will pick up one of my slippers and take it to wherever she’s lying in the house. She never chews on it, just takes it with her so something of mine is nearby. Sometimes it takes me a while to find it. And on the odd occasion she has taken both of them, and rarely are they both in the same room…or even on the same floor of our big house.
And Rosa has the most endearing dance when we come home. A bull mastiff dancing is a sight to cherish.
We’ve been having spectacular sunsets in New Brunswick too – my camera can’t capture the colours (well, maybe it could if I knew how!), but there’s a magic in just enjoying them and not taking a picture. Just living that moment as it lasts.
Diane Mattson says
Walking home from work the other day, I saw a cat sitting in a driveway. I had never seen this cat before. “Hello Kitty,” I said. This cat raced toward me, as soon as I spoke, rubbed against my legs, purring and dancing about. Just a little thing, a small moment that made me smile. (And then I had to tell myself over and over, “It would be wrong to steal this cat. This is a healthy, well groomed, happy cat. It would be wrong to steal this cat…)
I recently lost my Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Gracie. She would have been 14 today & I lost her to sinus cancer.
Gracie was never a snuggler. Never. She always wanted to be where I was, but never up close.
She slept in the bed with me, but always at the foot of the bed, at her choice. The last few years she preferred sleeping on the floor.
But about 2 weeks before she left, she asked to get back up on the bed. Of course I brought her right up. She promptly snuggled in next to me, all curled up, & fell asleep. When I awoke in the morning, she was still there, sound asleep & still curled up. She did that for 3 nights in a row.
I think she wanted to give me some comfort, because she knew her time remaining was so short. I miss her terribly.
Kim Laird says
Coming home one day, I patted and talked to my Rosy in our usual fashion. She started sniffing my face, and I leaned down so she could do it more easily. She carefully sniffed my hairline, and then softly sniffed around my face, finishing with resting her chin on my knee. She looked so happy to see me, as I was to see her. She’s precious to me. I also love the way in summer, because I am wearing shorts, she will walk up to me and press her tongue against my leg. Nothing wet and drippy, just a taste, almost as to say, “Hello, I recognize you… you taste good… ” 🙂
@Crandellpop. I think we’ve all been there.
*Dog does trick perfectly*
Me: Hey, watch this!
*Everyone in class is watching*
*Dog pees on something*
Michelle Nashleanas says
I used to think that my cattle dog/pibble 37 lb mix Patty was harassing my cat Charity. On closer observation , I realized that Charity waited for Patty to relax, Charity then snuck up on Patty and yelled an outrageously loud “ meow” into Patty’s ear as an invitation to chase and play! My older cat Gigs waits by the front door for patty to return from any outing from a pee break to her knee surgery yesterday.
Inter species communication is clearly happening. They successfully read each other’s body language, Charity even finds ways to interrupt training sessions with Patty. Now Charity targets as well as Patty Gigs is the benevolent big sister who grooms Patty and Charity. Me, I get to cuddle with whomever is in the mood. In return, they trust me to not pick at their surgical sites and tell me when they’re hungry or not feeling well.
I’m working on my small piece of the world to show what harmonious living with the world can be. It’s not about who dies with the most toys winning, it’s about the wealth of love and compassion and willingness to communicate that enriches us. This is the comfort of friends, people and animal
Sara Brogdon says
I came home from a long day of skiing with my son today and when we got home, all 5 of our dogs were hungry and very happy to see us. After everyone was fed, I sat down beside my Pyrenees, Catori, and started to groom her, pulling gently at some small mats on her back legs. She is so patient with me and when we were all finished, I said “Yay, you did it…you made it through! What a good girl!” and she was just so proud of herself. She buried her head under my arm and squirmed like a puppy. She’s such a huge part of me and, at 3 years old, she’s doing a fabulous job guarding our 4 goats and 10 chickens every night.
It was great to read about you and your husband learning to bark at the coyotes. My Blue Heeler, Friend, taught Catori all about keeping them at bay. Also, I was able to teach Catori how to recognize and detour predator birds from killing my chickens ( I ran after them and barked, she eventually followed suit). She’s a pro now.
Thank you for all of your stories, books and videos. I was an “old-school” trainer (I read “The Monks of New Skeet” and loved it soon after it came out) until I got a hold of one of your books. Thank you for all that you’ve taught me over the years. The most recent thing that I learned from reading your books was a little about what makes Pyrenees so special and how amazing they truely are. Catori guards every night, and is out, by choice, most of the day keeping an eye on the small farm that we keep, but she is also a huge part of our family and is well adjusted to being indoors with us whenever she wishes!
I am new to everything and immersed in dog training and this website. We adopted an 8-month old double merle aussie almost three weeks ago. He is greatly but not fully deaf and blind. I have been spending every day for several hours with him, learning how to ‘train’ him, now learning how he is training me, and learning how to be an equal partner with him in our new life together. He is a velcro dog, desperate for food, and when we first welcomed him to our home, he jumped about a foot at almost everything, especially touch.
After thoughtful and novice training, he is no longer jumping or startling nearly as much, though being outside is a huge stimulation for him. He loves to learn and to calm as a being.
Anyway, this morning, I was mostly realizing I had to keep myself in check, not ‘be the trainer’ with him as we power-struggled down cold alleys in pre-dawn darkness. We made it to both of our favorite place/thing, which is running free together (he stays on a lead until we get better/feel safer with his deafness/blindness) by the creeks and in the woods and pathways. We ran and played at length, I had my hot dog bits on hand to help with anxious or unsure moments on his part…he just sat by a tree and looked at me, and seemed so calm, watching and listening to the tundra silence in our world and I just stood by and with him. I realized I longed to sink down in the snow, and did, in my new snowsuit. Snowy came over to me and sort of sat in my lap in the snow. The creek gurgled softly along, the darkness lifted, the birds squawked and we sat in silence, utterly bonded. I sang silent night to him many times, mostly loving how as I relaxed, he loosened (today’s theme).
He curled up and fell asleep there in my lap – me on my knees in the snow, breathing and eternally well together.
Thank you, everyone. I am learning so much from all of you. It is nice to add my voice to conversations I have been reading obsessively for three weeks.