Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Good Dog's Visit

I received a surprise phone call last week—an out-of-town relative was coming for a visit! 

Just when I was overwhelmed with sadness and frustration and loss of plan (over not yet owning an RV), the Good Dog came to town and gave me the best of his goodness.  I had not seen this Good Dog in over a year; I’ve never spent a lot of time with him.  I wasn’t sure if he would remember me.

And so I stood outside, waiting in my driveway for his arrival, and as soon as he saw me, his entire body started wagging with happy greeting!

This Good Dog is the best trained I’ve ever seen.  He doesn’t jump; he doesn’t bark; he doesn’t pull on his leash.  And most amazing, when his Mom takes him into a new surrounding (such as my home) she slowly walks him (with his step just behind hers) into each room that he is “allowed” to go into.  If she hasn’t “introduced” him to a room, he won’t go into it.  No gates are required!
Even though my kitchen is open to my living room, and even though I have a powder room connecting to the living room, he will not enter either of those rooms, unless invited into them.  He will not enter into them even if no human is around!

His Mom also trained him to be “introduced” to the people-stuff that he can interact with, and if not “introduced” to it, he leaves it alone.  For example, at his home, he knows he can sit and lay down on the sofa because she introduced him to it.  At my home, his Mom did not introduce him to any furniture, so he never jumped on any furniture.  
But what I love most of all, is how happy and confident this Good Dog is—and what a great life he now has. You see, he was a rescue dog from a shelter.  And the really sad story?  He was in that shelter over a YEAR before my relative, His Mom, found and rescued him, accepting everything about him including the name they gave him:  Chicito. 

Why was he in the shelter so long?  Probably because he is completely blind in his right eye and also suffers from the large-black-dog syndrome that shelters describe. 

The shelter told his Mom that a pit bull got hold of him and damaged his right eye.  Looking at him, you can’t tell.  The vet didn’t believe it as he was so agile on his leash.  But when she brought her thumb close to his eye, from the blind side, he didn’t even blink.  And it is painfully obvious that he has no sight on his right side as he occasionally walks into an object to the right of his view, such as a park bench or chair.

This Good Dog, Chicito, had no training until his Mom rescued him.  He was a frightened, damaged, two year old that didn’t know how to walk on a leash or how to trust humans.  I almost took a hard spill the first time I walked him on a sidewalk.  A car went by and he basically fell into me in fear, and I tripped over him.  Three years later?  He is a healthy, confident, happy Good One. 

His one good eye has all the Border Collie brightness you would expect.  He is smart as a whip.  He exudes love and a sense of family belonging that all of us crave.

So there I stood on my driveway, not knowing if he would remember me, and for the first time EVER, I saw him pull on his leash—coming toward me with that entire body wag that says “I’m thrilled to see you!”  Jump up on me?  Of course not.  But even his Mom was a bit surprised by his obvious exuberance at seeing me after all this time.

And if he really, really loves you, he’ll come and sit  on his back legs and extend both front legs, one at a time, ever so gently, for you to have and to hold.  (no food or treat involved).  He began this behavior awhile after his Mom had showered him with love and security. I've since read that this is a Border Collie behavior; their form of a really good hug.

Although not a good photo, it looks as if I’m lifting Mr. Chicito’s right paw in this photo.  In fact, he is extending it to me.  And when I take it, up comes the other paw!  And boy does he make eye contact with the warmest and smartest of self-awareness.

This other not-so-good photo shows his greeting.  His Mom tells me he doesn’t do this with just anyone:

I bought a doggy daybed last winter when I was hoping to adopt.  Mr. Chicito let me know it was perfectly comfortable.  Even though the mat was larger than his body, he liked to hang his head off of it, just like Greyhounds that I’ve met.  

Note the ear perked up.  This Good Boy might look asleep, but he was an active listener to a relative’s conversation.  (Of course we were mainly talking about how wonderful he is—what Good Boy wouldn’t listen to two women sending praise his way?)

This past week brought a lot of much needed rain and little outdoor time.  I decided to include a photo of Mr. Chicito and me from two years ago.  He looks just the same.  But as his Mom noted, I’ve now got a good bit more grey hair!  

(And yes, I have him on a leash—but the magic of Photoshop let me erase it.)

And when will I see this Good Boy again?  I never know.  I just give thanks for the days that I do, and the joy that he brings my way.

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