A week ago our family headed out to the shelter. We didn’t know what type of dog we’d bring home if we even found one at all. But we were prepared for anything. A gate was installed in our kitchen and we dragged three large rugs and pads out of that area. Cords were wrapped, small toys picked up, and shoes were put away. I assumed we’d have a puppy that was not house trained and chewed like crazy. We were ready to do a lot of training, or at least spend significant time in training classes to learn. I fully expected not to get a good night’s sleep for a few nights or more. But we were game, certain that the long-term benefits would far outweigh the short-term challenges.
Fast forward to this weekend. We find ourselves blessed with Gus, who has turned out to be fully house trained, highly obedient and eager to learn our rules. He doesn’t chew on anything other than the rawhide we provided, eats well, barks only when separated from us (and then for a short time), and goes to sleep in his crate every night with nary a peep. I come in for him at 6:30am and find him awake, silently waiting for me to bring him out for our early walk by the lake. He quickly learned not to pull on his lead, to stay on the right side of us, not to “mark” the entire neighborhood, and to walk calmly by other dogs (he can’t visit much with other dogs until 1-2 months after his neutering, and he does demonstrate his still-high level of testosterone when guests arrive).
Within 48 hours of his arrival he was bonded with all four of us but hopelessly devoted to me, and follows me everywhere I go. When I am sitting at my computer, Gus is lying down close by. If I stand up to get a glass of water he hops up and comes along. And yet when I need to go down the hall and don’t want him to follow, I can turn back to him and say, “Stay” and he stands in place wagging his tail, waiting for me to return.
This weekend we opened up the rest of the main level to Gus, although he continues to wait by the open gate for us to command “Come” before he crosses the threshold out of the kitchen. He followed the boys around eagerly during their egg hunt this morning and was pleased when Lyle found an egg full of his favorite treats in his dog bed.
Matt and I are loving our new neighborhood walk routines. I don’t mind getting out of bed to start my day with a walk; I have seen gorgeous sunrises and soaring seagulls in the mornings and Matt gets to soak up the nightlife on warm nights. During the day we run into neighbors and meet new people and their dogs. There turns out to be a nice couple a block away with two Bichons, people I never noticed until we walked by them with a nearly identical dog. Just as your vantage point changes when you are out and about with a child, you see your neighborhood differently yet again with a dog.
Our friends and neighbors consistently point out that Gus always looks like he’s smiling and that he’s so obviously happy to be a part of our family. I think that’s true, he is happy. And although Baxter complains that this is boastful to say, I can’t help but feel he’s a lucky dog to have ended up with us when things were looking so bleak for him just a week ago.
I love Easter because I am inspired by spring and new beginnings. For both this dog and for us, this is a particularly wonderful new beginning. And as I sit here looking at him sound asleep on the kitchen rug that perfectly camouflages him in all his cuteness, I know that we are equally fortunate.