Confession : At times I have doubted my decision to bring Shiloh into our lives.
Here’s the thing about doubt: it’s allowed. It would be so much simpler if these kind of things were black or white. Night and day. Right or wrong. But 99.99% of the time they are on a continuum i.e. shades of grey. And it’s okay to feel things that are at odds – sorrow and relief/ wonder and fear/ regret and excitement, weight and light.
I’m not sure how (previously) I have skipped the weight of responsibility that owning a dog brings. What was that? – Youth? Confidence? Lack of vision? Whatever it was then, I feel the full weight of it now. And at times I think back a little longingly at the simplicity of just wo cats; no early morning loo runs, keeping gates or doors closed, juggling animal meal times, the duties of clearing the lawn and the rescuing of every item known to man! (We are making progress though on the rescuing – seems Shiloh will sit and allow me to remove the bottle of nail varnish/ pen/ mobile phone/ TV remote etc if I move very slowly, using a stern voice and asking him to ‘wait’. He gets rewarded after this for relinquishing his prize. He is always so proud of his excavations or elevations (i.e. floor to sofa to coffee table!!) and it is SO hard to be strict.
Shiloh knows when he has been told off even when you haven’t told him off and it’s quite hard on the heartstrings watching him quietly walk away and lie in the corner after a disapproving tone has been used.
Of course this sensitivity will hold him in good stead in the Therapy Room and I have no doubt about his rapport building qualities.
So we grow.
Shiloh goes from 3kgs to 11.7 – YES – 11.7 kgs at 5 months (we are beginning to doubt that part of his job description : medium labradoodle). He is allowed out into the big bad world (all vaccinations done) so can do wildly exciting things like go to the dog park/ visit Granny/ have Sunday morning coffee and cheese scone at a dog friendly cafe/ get cuddles at the local hardware store from little girls/ walk the neighborhood like it’s wonderland and go shell collecting at the beach (he already know me so well; he knows I love shells and on our very first beach walk he brought me a very beautiful one which he spat out into my hand with a little drool and sand:)
Shiloh offers the kind of love only a puppy can give ; unconditional, vulnerable cuddle filled love. And he’s a chocolate, fluffy, edible rascal. I love him so.
Sometimes we lie on the warm grass and smell the daisies.
Whisky looked cute in the photos ; no doubt. And according to his breeder he was the friendliest and most outgoing of the litter. He was also ‘chill’ which was not surprising being that he was from her Therapy line of Labradoodles. The decision had been made, and I shifted into a mixture of anticipation and panic! Was I doing the right thing?/Was this a commitment I should be taking on?/Would he be the right temperament??/ Would my much loved two cats adjust?/ Was I prepared for the restrictions owning a dog would bring?
Lockdown threw a giant spanner in the works and I became anxious that if we did not all go down to a level 2, Whiskey would not be allowed to travel to me nor I to him. But Level 2 arrived just in time to book him on Originair from Nelson – and soon we found ourselves waiting anxiously at Palmerston North Airport. It was quite funny really . . .we peered through the glass like anxious expectant parents. And then – there he was….this tiny, fluffy, shy little ball of love squinting out at us through his cage. He was afraid and overwhelmed. He was cuddled and loved.
As I stepped up to the door of the cafe an adorable dog caught my eye. Tethered to a wrought iron chair was quite the most beautiful dog I had ever seen. As it turned out this cream, fluffy, teddy bear look-a-like was a Lowchen.
Up until then I had been fine with not owning a dog again. The distress we had experienced leaving our Rhodesian Ridgeback in Zimbabwe after we fled the war veterans claiming our farm was burnt forever in my memory. We had believed giving our two year old ‘Hasha’ to another family was the right thing to do. We could not afford to bring him with us. The memory of Hasha throwing himself against the corregated iron gates to get to us as we left nearly broke me and although I don’t know the full outcome, we were told months later that Hasha was still struggling to adjust to town life.
And then there was this bundle of calm and love sitting waiting patiently for his owner to grab her cappucino, and it made me wonder whether I could put my heart on the line once more.
18 months later, after much soul searching I decided that I would. I also decided that I would love to add a Therapy dog to my practice.
Labaradoodles look quite a bit like Lowchens! And by all accounts had the perfect nature for the job. My search lead me to a South Island breeder well versed with providing Therapy dogs to families and other clients. I agitated about the puppies health, their size and even their colour – but ultimately what I knew I needed was the right temperament. A little chocolate boy caught my eye! And there followed a myriad of messages about how he was reacting to people and sounds/how cuddly he was/how calm he was and whether he could be ‘the one’ ! Eventually I put my full trust in the breeder and the decision was made. She had called him Whiskey. And my phone soon overflowed with photos of the puppy I couldn’t touch or see – the puppy miles across the sea – the puppy who could just take our hearts and offer healing to many.