Sugar Bear – what can I say. It’s been over six months and he definitely knows us but I don’t think he has truly settled into believing, deeply believing that we are for real. Relationships are hard, especially when you don’t speak the same language and so there is no way for us to reassure him that we are not giving him back, that for whatever reason we love him and he is going to be our dog forever. He does the crazy run away thing less than he did, but still, there is a little warning light that seems to go off, protecting him from getting too attached.
I don’t think we consider all that often how much damage we can do to each other emotionally. We learn from what we experience and even if that experience doesn’t come in the form of physical pain we can be deeply imprinted with emotional and psychological hurts. There is no way to avoid scars, that’s part of life and living and growing up. We can all do the best we can, we can all be thoughtful, and kind, and gentle when we have caused harm. But we can also think more before we act so maybe we create a little less harm along the way.
We don’t know Sug’s story, just that he was rescued fairly young and bounced around to a number of homes where he would be kept for a few days and then returned. He snapped at one person, he’s not well potty trained, he doesn’t totally understand affection so these are all things that don’t recommend you to a new house. Everyone wants to bring a dog in and have the dog be perfect and easy. But dogs are a hot mess of emotional drama and require a lot of time and attention, just like people, except they don’t speak human and you can leave them at home alone.
So today my husband was kind enough to drive me to the airport very early, before we could reasonable let any dog out of the house which meant that Sug had to stay in his box for about an hour after my husband got out of bed. What we figured out after about two weeks with Sugie was that he wanted a den, and also he peed in the house overnight if he wasn’t crated. The other two dogs have no house issues and thus have complete freedom of movement and think the whole box things is a little odd. Sug though loves his box, can’t wait to get in it as soon as it is dark outside (a very scary time of day for him) and we have no potty issues, no barking issues, no problems overnight. He hops in, lays down and is so clearly off duty he could be in a blissed out coma.
But he does seem to like routines, so first thing in the morning when Chris gets out of bed he lets Sug out and they both go downstairs to the bathroom. Sug goes in the yard (where he does not bark – miracle), my husband does his thing, everyone is happy and the girl dogs look a little confused about the special rule for Sug but then they go back to bed and don’t seem to care too much. Today though Chris got up way too early to let him out and a lot of the progress we made in the last six months around trust was certainly shaken. The routine was altered, he was left in the box and there was a certain degree of panic. If the girl dogs could speak they would have said, “please be quiet and hit the light, I’m trying to sleep.” If Sug could speak it would have sounding something like a terrified scream of “no please, don’t leave me here.” Chris was home by the time he normally gets let out of the box anyway so that wasn’t an issue. But I worry a little about the things we can’t explain to him, the reassurance we can’t provide verbally. We can’t fix that fear that seems to chase him around the house at night before it’s box time. We can just keep being kind, and patient. That applies generally to life, that’s the lesson for today.