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Dog Days

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Fritz in the park

When Paulo, my live in boyfriend of two years, decided that he wanted to study English for 6 months in Ireland (leaving the possibility of a longer stay very much in the air), I realized that I had to re-accustom myself to living on my own. This was odd for me since I had always been a bit of a loner and certainly never minded living on my own, but fact is that after two years with someone a house does feel a bit empty.  So slowly the notion started to pop into my head of having a pet, more specifically, a dog.  When I told a couple of friends their immediate response was, “don’t do it to the dog.”

I can’t blame these people for what they said.  Those that know me well enough are aware of the fact that I spend most of my time in La La Land. I am messy and disorganized.  But what they don’t know is how having the responsibility of taking care of somebody or something completely changes these things in me.  I become more focused and careful. So though a little offended, I took their words as a challenge to myself that I could take care of an animal in Paulo’s absence.

I moved into my new place in February and let the notion swirl around my head for a while: studying my schedule – seeing how much free time and money I would have available to truly give the animal the attention that it would deserve.  I signed up for a site on Facebook which deals with dog adoption and just waited for the right picture of the right dog to show up at the right time.  Then last week it did!

"Smiling" dog

“Smiling” dog

His name was Toulouse, a 3-year-old Bernese mix. His picture, where he seemed to be almost smiling said, “Adopt me! I’m the one youwant!”  I sent an e-mail to the kennel and set up a meeting with the little guy.  Once I got there he was waiting with one of the caretakers. She immediately invited me to take him for a walk to see if we got along well.

We went around the grounds of the kennel to get to know each other, but I knew a walk wouldn’t be enough.  I kept remembering those old phrases about a dog choosing you and not the other way around, so I sat down and waited to see if he would trust me enough to come to my lap.  Once he did, I signed the paper work and we took a taxi home.

Adopting a dog is not always easy for the dog.  There is a definite adjustment period.  After all, most of these dogs have probably been moved around to various places and God knows what experiences they’ve had in that interim.  How are they to know that the moving had ended and the person who takes them in means them well?  This dog was no different.  He was curious and scared at the same time.  Yet, I liked his attitude.  He didn’t bark (still doesn’t) nor did he run around like crazy.

Of course there were signs of apprehension.  Even though I made him a nice little bed, his first his instinct was to sit by the gate and whine a little to get back outside.  I had read up on this and new that it was normal.  I let him take everything in on his own time.  I opened the door to the house and to my bedroom and let him sneak in as he pleased.  Of course each time I looked up as he stuck his nose through my bedroom door he would prance out as if I hadn’t even seen him.  In only two days that’s changed though – as I write this he is lying down comfortably next to me.

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Gettin to know one another

One can read up or listen to advice as much as they want, but every dog is different, so I am learning as I go.   Walking was a challenge the first time out.  He was scared to go down some streets if they were too dark or on too much of an incline.  What took an hour to get to was cut down to half the time on the way back though, as he was clearly familiar with the surroundings. In walking we have the best opportunity to learn from one another.  He now knows not to come to a complete halt when we have to cross a street, and I am learning when to let him stop to sniff around a bit, rest and do his business.  And most importantly we are both not afraid to put on the brakes if we feel the other’s walking pace is too fast.

Like I said, he doesn’t bark but had a tendency to cry a bit by the gate.  This has stopped a bit as appears to understand that we can and will go out, but that his home is here and that is the biggest step.  Little by little we are assimilating to one another’s styles and wants, and building trust. Today I even let him off of his leash at a park on top of a big hill to see how far he would stray, and most importantly, if he would come back.  He had some fun rolling in the grass and even sliding on his back down a few of the hills, but didn’t run off.  I was really  pleased with that, although I can’t say the same about the smell he brought back after rolling in a dirt pile – but as I said, “live and learn”.  Next step: bath       .

It’s only been two days but I can safely say that I couldn’t ask for a better dog.  His tranquility goes along well with my laid back attitude.  And he is learning quickly to obey me and come at my call – which leads back to another issue.  I was on the fence about whether I should have changed his name or not, but in the end I felt it was best.  I wanted him to start a new chapter in his life, so I thought back to my old Kabbala beliefs of changing names to either change attitudes or better fit the ones already existent.  Toulouse was a colourful enough name, but didn’t express his personality well enough for me.  I changed his name to Fritz, a German name which mean “peaceful ruler”.  He certainly does rule my decisions and time now – but as I said, with a calm spirit.

I am sure to learn a lot from this experience.   His presence will certainly make me a better person, and I hope I can give him the happiness any of God’s creatures deserves.  I am ready to take this leap and Fritz appears to also be more than willing to lead a new charge in life. I hope we can remain together for a long time going forward.  Now the days don’t seem as bad, as I await my friend, sitting beside my new-found one.

Hanging out at home. He wouldn't go in my room now he wants to take over my bed!

Hanging out at home. He wouldn’t go in my room now he wants to take over my bed!

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