Friday, June 24, 2011

Puppyversary! Part III

When we got home he was relieved to get out of the car.  We gave him some water and a little taste of food, since they'd barely eaten on the van.  Then we walked him around the yard a little bit.  After a few minutes my mom came out and he met her politely, although without the same attachment he'd showed us.  We decided to walk him and Molly (my parents' dog) down to the local school for introductions, since they'd be living in the same house (we live on the third floor of my parents' house).  Molly is not very good with other dogs, so this was sort of a moment of truth.

Jonah trotted merrily down the street with us.  Now that he was outside, he had lost all of the previous fear and seemed to be just thrilled with his new people and the new place.  He was looking around on his own, clearly not heeling, but he never pulled on the leash at all.  I remember thinking that he looked a little bit like a fox.  He has a big bushy tail, pointy ears and his trot just floats along.  Dave and I couldn't stop grinning, and we were laughing that our dog had better leash manners on his first day with us than Molly did after years living with my parents.

Our proud attitude continued when Molly arrived at school a few minutes after we did.  She went crazy, barking and pulling and leaping in an attempt to get near this new dog.  Jonah looked at her like she was out of her mind (which she is, although she's quite endearing in her own way) and was generally unconcerned.  We never got them close enough for a full meeting at the school, and mom decided that we'd have to try again later.  It was the next day before Molly was calm enough to be loose with Jonah.  In general, they now both have Jonah's initial attitude towards one another.  Mostly they ignore each other unless there's a tug toy involved.  Outside, Molly used to chase Jonah, but once Jonah got enough self-confidence to run full speed, she couldn't keep up and he decided to chase her, instead.  She thinks that was utterly ridiculous and refuses to run with him anymore.  Sore loser.

Anyway, back to the beginning.  We brought Jonah back home and finally brought him inside.  It was instantly obvious that he was much happier outside than inside.  Some of the stress came back, and he needed encouragement to go up stairs and down hallways.  For a few weeks, he would hesitate going through doorways.  When we would leave a room, he would come up to the doorway and be afraid to go out of it to follow us, even though he clearly wanted to be with us.  Who knows what that history is.  It was weeks before he would go into our kitchen.  Several times in those first days we had to carry him up or down the stairs to take him outside.  He would just get so nervous and frightened.

From there on out, things got slowly better.  It was a while before he would fully relax in the house, but he was always very well behaved.  We took him everywhere with us--frisbee games, walks, hikes, pet stores...anywhere we could think of.  There were definitely times where he was scared, shy, or nervous, but overall we were such proud new parents that we just had to show him off.  We didn't mind too much when he clearly preferred us to other people, either.

So, here we are one year later.  Our terrified puppy now competes in agility, has run a 5k, kayaks, hikes, camps, and is our very best friend.  I'm not sure I can fully recommend someone else doing what we did, but I can tell you that there's no dog in the world that I'd rather have.  I know we got amazingly lucky.  It's been a lot of fun to go through new experiences with him and watch him blossom and gain confidence.  I dont feel in any way that he's a 'finished product'--we're still learning every day.  Sometimes we even have backslides, but it's alright.  Who could possibly resist that happy grin, or the rolling over for a belly rub, or the wagging delight when we get home.  When we brought him home, I had just started an intense summer program and it was completely draining.  I would study all day until I worked myself into a migrane headache.  As soon as we had Jonah, though, the headaches stopped.  I had a reason to go outside and be thankful.  It's not that my work got any easier, but there was new meaning in my life.  And that's where I'll leave things.  Whatever situation you find yourself in, I hope you can find loving meaning that cheers you every day, no matter how hard the day has been.  I hope you can come home to love.

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