Never Underestimate It.
What’s that? I hear you ask….
The effect a dog can have to help you to heal.
I read some time ago about how dogs have helped with PTSD and Depression, I know that having Kato around at my darkest times was probably a lifesaver, even when my partner didn’t know what would help, Kato always seemed to. When my partner was in grief for the loss of his family members and no-one seemed to understand, our boy was there, by his side to get him through each day too. When I was unable to work and ill, he was there for me watching over me, watching over us both, he always knew when we weren’t well and would be especially vigilant until we were better. I will be eternally grateful to him for all that he gave us in his life, the love and support and loyalty. I daren’t hope that we could find that again, so soon after losing him.
I read an article about prisoners caring for shelter dogs, for veterans who feel that they have no-one. The power a dog has to rehabilitate a person is astounding. A transformation can take place in such a short time and the bond that forms is incomparable.
The trauma of the summer will heal in time. We needed the distraction of our trip, we both needed to take time out and think about what we wanted in our future. It was there up on the hill that we decided although we have each other and that is enough. The icing on the cake would be to share our hearts and space with a new furry person, one who needed a new start, for whatever reason. I said that we would know when we found the right one for us, but that we did not need to rush. He kept getting me to look, almost daily. Had he decided that it was time, was he right?
We looked, we made a few phonecalls, sent messages, almost going through the motions, but I didn’t know how we felt. He could not even meet a dog without tears forming, he missed him so much. His buddy, his friend, he felt lost. We missed everything about not having Kato around and it was eating us up. We talked about whether it would be too soon and how he may have felt about us sharing our love. We concluded that he would want us to be happy. Meanwhile no-one even responded to our messages or calls. We thought maybe it wasn’t meant to be after all, maybe we hadn’t found our one yet.
It was a Saturday night, we had our favourite lovely meal and a bottle of wine, he asked me to look, there had been no internet signal all evening, at about 1am, I tried to shut the computer down but there was suddenly a signal. I again looked at the dogs which were up for adoption and rehoming. We had been speaking to a rescue lady the day before, but there were some issues with the owners and he wasn’t sure. I found three dogs which I thought might suit us and called him to look at the pictures. Two of them were Black and White, which I gravitated towards, but this was not just a decision for me. My partner told me that he would prefer someone who did not remind him of our Kato. He wouldn’t want to make comparisons and the new one would have big paws to fill. They were all between 2 and 5 years old. We wanted someone who we would have a chance of a good few years with.
Then there was Rocky.
He was so different from Kato, a blonde bear. Sable & Cream with a smile full of puppy nonsense. He looked as though he had a sweet nature. Such things are important. We barely got any sleep and as I gave him the list of the three numbers. He rang only one. He spoke to the man who was giving him up. We asked if we could visit on the way back South, we asked all about him, all the things that we could think of that we might need to know. We made an arrangement to visit a week later and the man promised that we would be the first to see him.
As the week passed we kept thinking about him. I had saved the photographs to look at them. We anticipated our visit.
Exhausted we travelled back from Scotland had very little sleep and then called to confirm our visit. When we arrived some hours later, my partner wanted to meet him first. He said he wouldn’t get a look in once he had seen me. The man let Rocky in whilst he was upstairs. He came down minutes later to find me sitting on the floor with this beautiful dog sitting next to me, having his ears stroked. Rocky came over to say Hello to him and came back to me for more fuss.
We stayed for hours, he barely left my side, we took him for a walk in the park, off the lead, after all we were with his owner. We were thrilled that he was so good and did not react to other dogs other than to go and say hello and run off again. I was holding the lead so I called him back, he returned to me every time and I praised him. He walked by my side so nicely. We had all decided by the time we left that he would be coming to live with us. As we departed Rocky tried to get into our car to come with us, there and then we knew. Resistance was futile but I had to send him back to his owner, telling him that I would be back next week to see him again. We trusted our instincts when we met him, came home discussing him all the way, I think we’d found our new son.
I was on tenterhooks all week long, hoping that nothing would go wrong. We spoke midweek and all was set, we would have a meal with his family and then we would be bringing him home. When we arrived he was in the garden on a chain, it was pouring with rain and he was soaked. I asked why but did not get an answer and asked for a towel. When the rain died down a bit we all took him for a walk. Otherwise the evening was lovely.
He said his Goodbyes, we will stay in touch and Father and Son can come and visit him when they would like to. It was an eventful drive home, 80 miles with him talking and whining all the way, he wanted to be in the front and climb onto my lap. I could not fit in the back to comfort him, there wasn’t room for me in his bed and I didn’t want to invade his space. We showed him around his new home and garden he was thrilled, I gave him a new soft blanket, he took it into the lounge, we laid it out on the floor and I sat on it with him. He just wanted to be cuddled. We gave him lots to drink and when it was time for bed, we decided that he could sleep in the lounge. Access all areas except the bedroom. We slept with the door open so we could hear him. He layed down to sleep and did not cross the threshold until he needed to go out. But kept coming to the doorway to check on us, he was amazing.
In the morning, when we woke up, he came into the room to see us and climbed up to put his paws on my shoulder, giving me kisses and a hug. The best good morning a new mummy could hope for.
There will be learning, there will be things which test us no doubt, like the tantrum when we put his Halti on, but he settles down. He is after all an Alaskan Malamute and it is in their nature to test, but so far he is proving to be a wonderful addition to the family and our home, full of character and love.
Our healing has begun and so has his. We have been in limbo for a while as we grieved. He is still in our thoughts daily, but I no longer sob nightly at the thought of him, that stopped only days ago. We still speak to him and tell him about his new brother, we are sure that he would have loved him too. I am telling him about the daily nonsense, he would have kept him in check a big brother to watch him.
The little one whom we adopted just three days ago, who is full of love and affection and has already changed his life for the better since his arrival.
He has no desire to sleep in his basket we brought back with him. He would not even climb into it so it has been put away. He was pleased to get a new harness which didn’t make him itch and wears it with a smile. The soft bed was washed three times, but he will not lay on it, not even disguised under his new blanket. He has plenty to say, where he was quiet when we visited him. He is finding his voice. He wakes us up to say Hello and give us kisses but were told he wasn’t very kissy. He kisses me after I feed him to thank me and comes to tell us that he has eaten his meal, for praise. He follows us everywhere, it is early days maybe this is normal to have a new shadow. There is no rush to eat his food, he is not so hungry, no-one will remove it, the cat won’t eat it if he leaves it. It is still there for him. He eats when he is hungry, leaves it and returns to it later, tail wagging that it is still there. He is not hunting for treats all the time, the obsession with food is gone.
We didn’t change his name, just how it was spelled.
Ecstatic that he was given his first toy by his new Dad on the first morning when he awoke he proudly presents it to us many times throughout the day and is happy to share it with us whenever we ask. He will fetch it back and wait for it to be thrown. He will wait when asked to and has wonderful manners. He wants to play, night and day and is chasing his tail for the first time today, dancing around the room as I write this with plenty to say.
We are smiling again, big smiles which are right across our faces, there is laughter and merriment in our house, three days in a row for the first time in months. The light is back on we are all happy, so very happy to be parents again. There are no second thoughts, no doubt or did we do the right thing? We realised that this was meant to be when we sat shattered from the journey, to see my brand new sleeping furry son head on my lap with a beautiful smile, for him to be squarely between the two of us, comforted by the feet of his new Mum and Dad.