Lessons from the Universe

20160809_170516Eight months ago I was sitting anxiously at Dulles waiting for a tiny little ball of fluff to clear customs. After the heart break of “the dog that wasn’t” I hadn’t intended on getting another puppy, let along a feral dog from Afghanistan but in the weird world of the interwebs our paths crossed and I knew from the moment I saw her that she was my dog.  Now I am convinced that the Universe sent her to teach me about myself.  I pretty much realized this when the very first picture captured of her she had her tongue sticking out at the camera.  (Subtle like a sledgehammer Universe.)

Charlotte, while yes still technically a puppy when she got here, is still a feral dog.  She is a product of survivors.   Between being a source of food, target practice, or dog fighting life expectancy isn’t good her kind in Afghanistan. She was incredibly lucky that some soldiers took in her pregnant mama (against the rules, by the way) and they knew of a charity that would help them find the puppies homes in the States.

The first few weeks here she was super skittish about everything, but her bravado was big.  While her tail was tucked between her legs she would still act like she wasn’t scared.  (Subtle Universe, subtle.) Over time she began to trust me.  She still won’t effuse love the way that Perry does, but here and there she demonstrates it.  As she grew to trust me her personality began to show.  She has a wicked sense of humor.  She can also throw the best fuck you face I have ever seen in a dog.

Still the only time she will be vulnerable and cuddle with me is early in the morning in that time between waking up and actually getting out of bed.  I learned if I “nibbled” on her coat with my fingers the way that she did with Perry she responded positively.  She started licking my arm or burying her head in my neck and sighing in response.  What started off as just a few seconds slowly grew to a few minutes.  She isn’t, nor ever will be, the cuddle sponge that HRH is, but the fact that we have developed a way to express our love for each other is huge.  I guess we just had to learn each others love language.  (Again, subtle Universe.)

Don’t get me wrong, there are days that we can’t tolerate each other.  She hates it when I put the citronella bark collar on her when I’m trying to write a paper.  I hate it when she destroys something she knows she shouldn’t.  No love is perfect, not even HRH at his ripe age of 9.  (Universe I learned this one a long time ago, thanks for the reminder though.)

Patience has never been a virtue of mine.  Throughout my life the Universe has sent various lessons into my life to teach me patience.  Apparently for all the strides that I thought I was making, I guess, the Universe felt otherwise.  Love is patient, love is kind (1 Cor 13 4-13) takes on a whole new meaning when after 8 months someone is finally asking for belly rubs something that I take for granted with HRH.   She has started to trust me to the point where she will cross over a creek on a tree suspended 6 feet in the air.   For all the lessons the Universe as taught me about myself I’d think she has learned that she can trust and love which runs counter to her every survival instinct.

Oh baby trail dog, I look forward to all of our adventures. IMG_2603

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Trail Monster

It’s not secret I hate this time of year.   Every horrible, rotten, crappy, down right awful img_1428thing that has ever happened in my life has always happened this time of year.  So, yesterday, while everyone else was off having family dinners and putting up Christmas trees baby trail dog and I went out and ran, more like hiked, 10 miles.  Yes, classic avoidance.  Hey don’t knock it until you try it.

I’ve been working with this awesome trainer, “Uncle Lance” who has been amazing.  At our first session he asked me what I wanted out of our training sessions and I told him that I wanted to know that when we were out on the trail together that she would stay with me and not take off.  See, she’s an Afghan mutt and she’s a sight hound.  What does that mean? Means she’s a survivor and why wouldn’t she follow/chase an amazing meal, even though there’s a heated car seat and a seemingly endless supply of doggie treats with me.  Last weekend we worked with Uncle Lance at a local park with her off leash.  We were ready, Uncle Lance said so, and he isn’t the kind of guy to blow smoke up your a$$.

Yesterday, we started our run with her on leash.  She’s really grown to love the run.  Especially the longer runs when it’s just her and I.  Her ears are her tell.  Flipped over, sassy.  Bouncy, happy.  Pinned to her head, she’s picked up the scent of something.  As we proceeded down the trail we got to a really technical rocky section of trail that I knew I was going to have to let her scramble on her own.  For her safety and mine.  As I reached down to unclip her harness from the leash I had to have faith that all of the training we’ve done was going to be enough.

She was amazing!  She scrambled and played.  She was far enough ahead for her to be able to explore some on her own, yet close enough that I was comforted.  She stuck her face into every dirt pile and mud puddle she could find.  She bounced and played and was happy, genuinely happy.  She came when called and didn’t put a single toe out of line.  I was so impressed.  When we got back to the regular trail she was so good I didn’t want to put her back on leash.  She stayed at my side almost in a perfect heel next to my knee as we moved down the trail.  Had a couple of volunteer Rangers not busted us, I would have kept her that way all the way back to the car.  She ignored the other dogs, people, and yes, even the ducks she saw on the trail.  While she’s still not 100% locked on me like HRH is, for her first off leash outing I couldn’t be any more pleased.  I’m really looking forward to our upcoming time in the mountains.  She’s definitely going to be my little trail monster.