Hallelujah

It’s been so long since I blogged that I couldn’t remember how to get here, and had to look myself up.  I see that my last entry was on March 13th.  It’s April 20th today, and that means that it hasn’t really been that long since I’ve written.  But so much has happened that it’s no wonder it feels like six months have gone by.

Little by little, I will try to backtrack and fill in the the day-to-day information about Sawyere’s progress since March 13th.  But for tonight, because many people are asking, I will write a bare bones report on how he is today.  My heart is so full that I will not ask myself to write well, just yet.

All along, during my time rehabbing Sawyere, I’ve received internal prompts telling me when it was time to take the next step.  Today I got a prompt saying that it would be fine for Burberry and Sawyere to ride in the car together.  And it was fine.  We drove first to an unused tennis court nearby (fence is perfect; court itself is all cracked and weedy), and the two dogs coexisted peacefully, without too much interaction.  Both were fairly low-key.  That reminds me…

I know this sounds weird, but it has been my experience throughout this rehab process that it is very helpful, when you’re going to take the next step into unchartered territory, that you do it on a day of lousy weather.  I didn’t make the connection until later in the process, but just followed those internal prompts.  When I looked back I realized that huge advances were made on gloomy days.  And then I remembered that, for years, I’ve noticed that my dogs are pleasantly drowsy and relaxed on rainy days (causing me to struggle even more to get to the note factory on time, because they don’t want to get up to eat their breakfasts). 

So Burb and Sawyere were like boring old friends at the tennis court, and I got another internal prompt.  I wanted to get to another level, while the rain and gloom continued.  So I drove them to TheraVet, a physical rehabilitation center run by a veterinarian.  TheraVet has a pasture which they rent out so that dogs can run freely, and I’d taken Sawyere there once before.  Now I felt it was time to try it with Burberry, too.  Normally one has to reserve the pasture, but the weather was so yucky that I thought we might get lucky, and we did.

It could not possibly have gone better.  The two dogs interacted there for over an hour and a half.  By the end, they were true friends.  They had run together, drunk from the same water bowl at the same time, and sat together for treats.  More importantly, they had, on several occasions, licked one another’s muzzles (is that a word?  suddenly it looks like I made it up) and foreheads, after Sawyere had tried preliminarily to mount Burberry and she’d told him in no uncertain terms, “Forget it, buster”.  She also told him (and it seemed to me–almost magically–that he listened) to knock it off, when he got slightly frantic at the presence of a dog outside our fence. 

Have I told you that Burberry is a wonderful dog?  🙂  The help of your own dog/dogs is invaluable when you’re working with a new dog, and every time I pass by Burb lately I bend down and whisper my thanks and love in her ear.  She’s also eaten more treats in the past few days than she’s had since she was in puppy kindergarten, and maybe both of us together will teach Sawyere to jog, because she and I both need to lose a little around the waistline!

Well, if that isn’t enough good news for today, I got another internal prompt.  Things had gone so well at TheraVet, that I suddenly had a strong conviction that all would go well if I allowed Sawyere at least a brief exposure to my whole pack.  I’ve done this in the past, when introducing a new dog.  I first use a diplomat from my existing dog group, someone most likely to succeed with the new dog, and once that connection has been made, I allow the doggie diplomat to smooth the way into the pack for the newbie.

It is now very clear that Sawyere is not dog-aggressive, merely dog-reactive, and I’ve dealt with dog-reactive dogs many times, and introduced them into my pack. 

So I did it.  First I put Burb into the yard.  I brought Sawyere in on a leash, but it was quickly obvious that things had truly changed between the two, and they greeted each other with joy.  Burb doesn’t miss a trick, and for the past few weeks, when I’ve had Sawyere in the car, or when I’ve been ‘sneaking’ him into the guest room, she’s been yelling, ” Who the hell are you?  Present yourself to me, scurly knave (whatever–I’m not up on that parlance), or get off this property, like, yesterday!”  Her bark was truly intimidating.  But tonight, post-TheraVet, I heard a bark from her I hadn’t heard since her former best friend, a Border Collie named Francie, moved away from our neighborhood.  Her happy bark rang out, “Come play with me!  I’m in the backyard!”, and Sawyere’s tail started going a mile a minute, to match hers, as they met at the gate and I unlatched it and brought him in.  It was obvious everything was more than OK, so I unleashed Sawyere, and they began to play affectionately.  After a while, I leashed him again, went to the door and let the others out (whoever wanted to come out, anyway–a few stayed in).  There was a rush to get outside, and Sawyere behaved beautifully, although he was startled.  I didn’t want him to be overwhelmed, so I quickly took him inside, into the first floor suite where the dogs and I sleep.  He was very interested, and sniffed everything. 

And here’s the best part.  Giovanni had stayed inside, and Anna Belle.  Giovanni is the dog of mine I had picked to be Sawyere’s biggest challenge–a barky, fast-moving, pushy little spitfire of a Schnoodle.  Sawyere was perfect, although Giovanni had a couple of snarky moments.  And to finish off this wonderful day of progress, up walked little Anna Belle, little old physically-challenged, seventeen-pound Anna Belle, and the sight of Sawyere’s tail gently wagging as he sniffed all over her little body and she sniffed him back is something I’ll never forget.

We’ll keep doing the work we’re doing here, taking our big steps at propitious times and simply maintaining our progress on more challenging days.  Sawyere is a wonderful dog, and I don’t say that lightly.  He has been, and will continue to be, a source of great joy for me, and I venture to guess (it’s not really a guess–another internal prompt) that he’ll bring joy to anyone who knows his story and interacts with him lovingly.

For his last little joy-bomb, I went to see if he’d finished his dinner, up in the guest room where I’ve been sleeping half the night with him lately (I sleep the other half with my dogs).  He had finished, and we cuddled on the bed for awhile.  Then he jumped off and went to his leash.  Sometimes he plays tug of war with his leash when he’s frustrated, and I was confused, because I couldn’t see why he’d be frustrated right then.  But he didn’t play tug of war; he just nudged the leash with his nose and looked at me.  And I got it–he was telling me he needed to go potty!

I love Sawyere.  I love him because of all that I’ve learned from him, so much stuff that I don’t think I’ll ever have the energy to write it all (but I’ll try).  But mostly I love him because he’s extremely lovable and easy to love, and that’s the truth.

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2 Responses to Hallelujah

  1. Kate says:

    Oh I can’t tell you how much this warms my heart. I am so, so happy for you, and for him. He’s so lucky to have such a good rehabilitator. If I were a dog, I’d lick your muzzle. 🙂

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