This year we have so many things to be thankful for. Sioux and Ernie arrived. We discovered nose work and Roo competed in (and won a few classes!) his very first trial. Bam became our new cousin/nephew and Charlie officially became our new uncle/brother-in-law. I am so very thankful for my family and for my dogs!
This year, on Thanksgiving eve, I want to remind myself how thankful I am for Sioux’s progress in particular. When we brought her home, she was so scared she could hardly walk. Nick and I looked at each other and agreed that if the other dogs liked her, she would be a success. A month or so later she had integrated into our pack. Her personality, along with her quirky way of being started becoming more obvious. Even though she was way behind with her socialization, our band of merry misfits liked her so clearly there was nothing malicious in her being. We then agreed that she would be a success if she could act like a normal dog.
What is “normal”? Is it fetching a ball? Is it coming when called? Is it being cordial with strangers and dogs on the street? None of these things came easy for Sioux. With the help of her housemates she was able to learn how to be a dog. We worked hard but also carefully to socialize her, making sure to build up her confidence and break down any potentially scary moment into a conquerable learning experience so that no adventure was a loss. Defeat was something Sioux learned to accept very young, but she very rarely feels that way anymore (at least I don’t think she does). She was/is able to attending training classes at a dog training center, went on a road trip, worked a few events with with me – all things that she could never have done before.
When people see us out on the trails now, she happily greets other dogs and hikers. I will probably always smile when she greets someone because I remember a time when we couldn’t even touch her, let alone a stranger. She has always loved other dogs and other dogs love her back. All of our fosters have gravitated towards her and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. People come to our home and although initially aloof, eventually everyone end up sitting next to her (mainly because there’s only one sofa and it’s hers).
Sioux has being taking several classes with the lofty goal of maybe competing someday. I’m not sure when I decided that would be what our goal would be, but unlike our other success markers, whether or not she competes won’t be what classifies her as a success. In my mind, she became a success the moment she realized that her life was hers to enjoy free of fear and embraced it. The rest is all gravy. Thanksgiving pun intended.
Happy Thanksgiving from all of us.
– B, N, S, R, B, C, & E