White Dog was off somewhere on a mission or napping in her fortress. Bella, my constant companion, sat next to me as I worked. Watching Opal's progress over the past couple of days has caused me to reflect upon the ways each of our "breeder mill" girls has adapted and are working to overcome horrible pasts that left them with no life skills except birthing babies.
Puff, our oldest White Dog at 17, came to us at 12. She wasn't a mill dog but the turned out to live outdoors past prime bitch for a backyard breeder. She was the third member of The White Dog Army and arrived nearly feral and close to death with heart worms. She still remains feisty and independent today. Thankfully in a way, old age has slowed her so her tactic of resistance when younger, running out into the yard and hiding, has mellowed to just walking away. Age issues have created a neediness that makes her tolerate being held and cuddled...but lord help you still if you try to kiss her...the death stare still has force.
Bella is never far from my side. It is she who rests under my chair in the living room and at my side in the office. At night if I awaken she follows me to the bathroom and then lies next to the bed until I am resettled. Her devotion is an amazing gift. Of late, I have been excited by her forays to other rooms during my sometimes long hours at the computer; she always comes back quickly to touch base. Even in her devotion she skitters away if I move too quickly toward her or if she is not in the mood to be picked up. She loves to be petted and have her face stroked but decides when she is through. She refuses to come when called and the only place Steve can leash her for nightly walks is when she is next to me at my desk...then and only then is it OK. Social situations make her nervous although recently she has been brave enough to come out of hiding to not only view but actually greet familiar guests. But in public, she clings to me or cowers under my wheelchair. She is a happy homebody. She has been my constant companion since November, 2013 (seems like so much longer).
Opal has been a topic of much discussion these past days as she seems at last to be beginning to find her way. There is still much baggage to overcome but each tiny step is amazing because I know how hard she works to achieve. A pillow sacrificed to mischief or treats that mostly still need to be tossed (but closer and she anticipates them now) are measures of advancement. And when Opal timidly comes into the office to touch my outstretched hand...and doesn't run but instead backs off a few feet and lies in the hallway watching me..my heart sings. She actually smiled this afternoon.
I chuckle at "advice" columns that tell you how to integrate a new dog into your family. I have found there is not a formula but rather a series of individual considerations..."Oh yes there is one," Bella gently corrects me. "It is the rule of the house for all things, momma. Love and patience."