White Dog chose Benson and Nilla to join us at the Sunday in the Park Meeting. It was to be the first park time for either of them since they became members of the White Dog Army. "It is time to see you bloom," she told them, simply. I was not sure what she meant and assumed it was a reference to this being the first day of Spring.
Both were excited by the prospects of a car ride. Benson hopped up on the seat so he could see out and Nilla curled up on the super comfy mat.
When we got to the Park, White Dog leaped out and ran in zoomies as Nilla made her way out and waited for Steve to coax Benson. Our calm boy was suddenly looking not so sure. They walked over and joined White Dog and me under a tree.
Benson looked around, ears flattened and eyes wide. He jumped up to despreately cling to me. I wrapped my arms around his fear and stroked his face. There was no one around us and no obvious reason to be so frightened. I looked at WD and her face told the story. Benson was buried in the safety and security I offered; his was an amazing act of trust.
"Sweet Boy," I told him. "I think you are afraid because a long time ago someone took you to the park and left you there. I do not know for sure and I could never guess why someone would do that to you." I cupped his face in my hands and rested my forehead against his. "I promise you with all of my soul that you will NEVER be left behind or abandoned again. You will always come home. Please believe and trust me."
Nilla had a different reaction. SHE obviously had NEVER experienced going for a walk in the park. It was a wonderland of smells and sights and opportunities. My 15 year old girl was buzzing like a puppy. It thrilled and excited her; she wanted to be everywhere at once.
"You chose these two wisely, Little White Dog of My Heart," I complimented her. "If Benson will trust and can absorb some of Nilla's joy, this might be a huge step forward for both." White Dog beamed.
Steve took the leashes and bent down to encourage. "Let's go explore a little," he told both. "We won't go beyond where you can see momma and the van. Then we will come right back. OK?"
Benson looked at me tentatively. "Trust me, my love," I reminded him as I patted his flank.
For three quarters of an hour Steve walked them. Nilla was in constant movement as she sniffed and watched other people with their families. Her delight made us laugh and filled the Spring blue with happiness. He would walk in one direction as far as they could go and still see WD and me, then return to our nuzzles and hugs and praise. Then they would head off in another direction to repeat. Slowly, Benson's walk became less tensed; he started to relax enough that returns were not gasping "thank dog you are still here!" but rather "hi, momma, we are all walking did you see me."
Then we all sat together for fifteen minutes and just enjoyed the day before heading back to the van. Benson was VERY glad to be getting back in but we felt that we had wrestled a demon and won with him. And Nilla...she fell asleep on the way home but it was from the best kind of tired. She embodied the renewal and reawakening of Spring.
"And now let the celebration begin," White Dog announced as we entered the house.