On July 28, 2015, we picked up a puppy that would impart to us a living, breathing education in Dog.
Today I watch as Boo trots the perimeter of the pool, her back curved high like a coyote trailing a varmint’s track atop the frozen snow of an open meadow, entrenched singularly in her task of “roller ball.” The world around her has ceased to exist.
Clenching a Kong barbell, her nose manipulates a Kong ball along any surface with astounding precision. Navigating the rectangle shape of the pool, she anticipates the affect each individual paving stone has on the ball’s trajectory as if by mathematical equation. It never slips from her control. The consistent thumpity-bump-thump-thump the ball beats out along the stones as it heeds her bidding is hypnotic. She side-eyes me as she passes, adjusts her barbell in her mouth and skips a quicker rhythm for rounding the upcoming corner to begin another trip around. A web of wistfulness only the spider of passing time can spin floats feather-light on the evening breeze as she lopes by.
Boo has been in physical therapy and rehabilitation for just about twelve weeks now. First utilizing all of our tools to provide safety, comfort and confidence for Boo, she now wriggles in happy anticipation of Dr. Amber opening the door. She loves “playing” whatever the game of the day is. First though, everyone must be greeted with a sliding stop-skid-to-sit, a paw on a foot, her head pressed to a thigh, soul-baring eyes turned up. All she needs is love, I say. Some things are just Boo. I have learned what needs to be let be, be.
Since she is now a different dog at therapy our initial tactics are rendered moot and she requires modified resolutions to sustain focus. Over five years I have gained a good understanding of what makes Boo tick, though I didn’t always know how to apply my epiphanies to training. Her physical therapy is a new door to a room housing another story for our quilt. We fit the patches of fabric together and when they are right, stitch them into place with our golden needle and thread and apply a back stitch.
It is necessary for Dr. Amber to watch Boo move during a workout to properly assess her improvements and how we proceed. This requires Boo to relax, focus and perform the exercises properly. This does not always happen.
Our current resolution has made a few twists and turns and we’re achieving some success, often changing tactics on the fly while we are there. I never know how something is going to work until we’re in it real-time as at-home training and real world application are miles apart for us.
Through the experience of Boo’s physical therapy, for the first time I truly feel I have the capability to successfully train a dog – more specifically my dog – in accordance to my observations of the behavior presented. The exercises for PT are much like trick training (I would assume) and require specific movements to stretch and build target muscles or muscle groups. Once we were able to properly perform the exercises, Dr. Amber encouraged me to bring them to function and work the moves into our every day lives. This works much better for us. We’ve had a lot of fun incorporating these into daily activities such as our walks, swimming, playing, chores in the yard or house, grooming and other every day occurrences. The learning process of successfully communicating to Boo what I want from her in this new work, mark it and be consistent has been rewarding and a lot of fun. The intended benefit of physical therapy – the gaining of strength and increased mobility and flexibility – has her floating and fluid again.
I wouldn’t trade one moment of my life with Boo for a lifetime with any other dog. She has provided me challenge a “regular” dog could not. In our early expectations it was tough to watch others who didn’t have to work so hard to achieve successes at various functions I thought we might find a space in and make a comfortable bed for ourselves.
I now feel differently. I know our purpose reaches far beyond our beginnings – a purpose surely not considerable in the universe – though monumental in our self-universe.
Boo and I are secure. I will stop everything – anywhere, any time – to correct, work through, refuse, or leave a situation or person I know will not be of quality for Boo.
You plopped into my life and led me to the better place in myself I never knew existed. Whenever I think we could not become more a part of one another, we are. Happy Gotcha Day, Boo-Boo – ain’t no better place, ain’t no better time than here and now.