White Dog made a funny face and said, "Earth to momma! You kind of spaced out there! What were you thinking?"
We were sitting in the gentle falling darkness of twilight, when things seem to stop for just a moment to breathe and contemplate the day before sleep times fall. White Dog was on the arm of my chair. YoYoMa stretched across the open front door. Quinn rested his head on my right foot and Nuka rested her bottom against Quinn's back. Puff slept in the window chair, chin and paws on the end table. We were in every sense a pack.
And that realization is what sent me into my own private thoughts. With the exception of White Dog, the Army is a collection of broken and abandoned souls, all adults formed from trauma and physical hardship. We were warned by so many that the idea of randomly assembling dogs who needed rescue was insane. Even our beloved Dr. Julia tried to gently convince us that you "can't just put dogs together and expect to form a family." Not a single one of the Army had met the others before we had fully committed to making them part of our lives. There were no visits or trial runs; each member came to us because something special about their story touched us...we knew we would make it work.
That is what struck me as we all sat together this evening. We ARE a pack; you CAN build a family with mismatched personalities. We may not all sleep curled together. But each of the WDA respects the others and seems to somehow understand the dynamic. There are no food fights or aggressiveness over treats; the WDA not only sits in queue but it has evolved a horizontal line-up order that is consistent.
I am constantly amazed at the level of subtle assistance Nuka provides for Quinn...and YoYoMa, our alpha wanna-be cuts him by yielding to the submissive, easily frightened TOWD...and White Dog who quietly positions herself to be able to watch him and alert us when he is lost in his daze and can't find his way in..or Puff who silently lies down and knows how close to get for Quinn's comfort.
But it is more than just treating the sick boy kindly. Each of the White Ones has had his or her favorite sleeping spot claimed by Nuka, whom we call the Bed Burglar. Our little Goldilocks goes through phases of shifting around the sleeping areas and displacing the usual occupant. This spot then becomes her favorite for a while and then she moves on. Although the ousted usually look a bit confused, no one ever growls possessively or chases her away.
More and more often I find myself as I move through my day part of a wave of white as all of the Pack wants to accompany me and be close at hand. Sometimes they will drift away but always they come back to check on not just me but the others with me. White Dog will stand on the deck to check the yard for missing members if they are not readily in sight.
The VERY worst correction you can give to one of The White Ones is to tell them in a serious tone (not loudly just seriously), "That was MEAN!" That sends the offender off to a corner alone to think and is followed by attempts to repent. White Dog has learned over the years to actually apologize. She sits at your feet and taps you; when she has your attention she "woos" and then hangs her head. The response usually is an invitation to come up to a lap and reconcile.
I have a theory that my pack is forged of the displacement and loneliness and lack of love Quinn, Nuka, Puff, and YoYoMa encountered before joining us. The White Dog Army is a no-pressure, be accepted for yourself opportunity to fit in, to be part of something bigger, to share (not just receive) love..."Be ALL that you can be," if you will.
We are gentle,and kind and giving with each other. The WDA is not perfect; there are certainly moments of crabbiness or arguments or just wanting to be alone...those times are taken for what they are and when they are over, it is done.
So, I said in answer to the little white dog of my heart, "I was thinking of how proud I am of you all and how much you have taught me!" "Hang on to your socks, momma," she replied, "we are just starting to bloom!"
P.S. Fetcha-palaooza's final tally was 514 adoptions of dogs, kitties, bunnies, and 3 horses! 514 new forever homes! Isn't that just amazing!