That boy is something else. Eager to please and eager to fit in, he is watching us all with his huge eyes, soaking up dogrules like a sponge. Apparently Iske and Lily have let him know that when I head for the bathroom, that’s a perfect time to ask for attention. Three dogs parade in with me. He has figured out that when we go out for a walk, it is dogproper to launch yourself off the bottom step or two and race out into the driveway. He looks like he isn’t sure why he’s doing it, except that Iske and Lily do it, so it must be right. His walk is getting more jaunty, and he actually runs a little here and there with the girls, play bowing and gurgling his Wookiee love ballads while they leap and twirl around him.
Iske’s ultimate gesture of acceptance has been bestowed upon him: she cleans his eyes. During the first week he was with us, she would sniff in his direction and walk away. We’re figuring that he must no longer reek of death, so she has decided to take him on as her underling, grubby face and all. Iske is smaller than him, so she has to crane her neck to get at his face. At first he was disappointed, thinking she wanted to play. But he stood still, and then he lowered his face so she could get at him more easily. She has spoken – he is now her charge, her baby, her pup. Witnessing them develop a relationship is alternately funny, touching, tense and beautiful. This is on the short list of why I have dogs in my life.
He is mouthy to the max: he is the Freudian oral stage incarnate. The world is to be known via his mouth. This morning I was trying to lift weights. Red placed his jaws around the dumbbell every time I moved it – gently, and released it immediately, but on the next pass, he tried to take it again. At one point later today I looked over and saw Iske’s entire muzzle inside his mouth. Again, just gently “touching” her, inviting play. She removed her face from inside his mouth, put a paw on his shoulder and resumed licking the schmutz off his face. He held still.
On the one big long walk of the day, he tried to keep up with the girls, but fell, his eyes bigger than his chest muscles. He popped up, shook himself off and allowed me to check him for damage. Not yet, big boy: no leaping off rock walls, practicing those Matrix dog moves. Soon enough he’ll be out there on the rugged trails of the Catskills – the Devil’s Path or the Burroughs Range – keeping up with Lily and me. But for now, he needs to walk, and not all that far.
The diarrhea is back. Not like it was, but a step backwards in the healing and gaining weight efforts. We had switched from chicken to beef, and had started adding in small amounts of kibble. We’ll back off, taking the beef out of his diet, as my gut tells me this is the offender. (Get it? My *gut* tells me… groan). He is clearly starting to fill out, as either side of his backbone has flesh where last week there was none.
I’m doing ok with all of this. Settling in. Going to work, cooking dinner, planning hikes – you know, acting normal. I struggle with my peri-menopausal symptoms (mostly anxiety), watch the stress make it all a little tougher, and smile inwardly, knowing that one day all this will be a memory. Red will be a big strong healthy boy, I’ll have hot flashes and mood swings, and there will always be much to complain about and much more to enjoy.
I marvel at just how easy Red has been, and just how cooperative and easy Iske, Lily, and yes, Maya and Tom, too, have been. Not sure I can take any credit for how well it has gone thus far, but not sure I can call it luck either. I think the key has been acceptance – of my own emotions, for starters, but acceptance runs right down the line, coloring everything in peaceful shades. Perhaps a central vein of acceptance running right through everything I do is the gift of aging. Whatever the source, I’ll accept it.