Thursday, February 6, 2020

Welcome Dulce! The World Turns




It was destined.
It was almost a year since I had assisted my Lab, Teak, into the next world. Her cancer had spread beyond comfort and dignity, while at the same time my soul sister Carole was dying of bile duct cancer ... my closest friend in life and my dog companion of twelve years exited my life within weeks of one another. Both were interwoven with my essence ... travels, writing, my movement across wild landscapes. I'd lost two tethers and my sense of who I was in a world, They were my co-pilots. Then, I broke my ankle, fibula and foot. I literally limped through it all. Carole's death overshadowed Teak's. I had never been so painfully positioned -- a physical, emotional and spiritual deluge. The brain fog of grief lifted enough for me to function through another season at Devils Tower WY and a shortened summer park ranger stint. Hobo and I waded through. He'd been grieving Teak for months. It took me until summer's end to work my way to the full force of her absence. Never so poignant as when I hooked up Jera and started down the road, my travel companion absent. 

I began to consider another dog this winter.  I had always chosen a pup at eight weeks and raised her. A litter of fun-loving cockapoos was available down the road. I could use some fun and laughs; I put down a deposit. Over the next few weeks, however, I decided a little dog, albeit a cute companion, was not the best choice for my adventurous life. Think: coyote cookie. Most importantly, it was a huge revelation to feel that adventure would return to my life. I visited the animal shelter weekly seeking a medium-sized dog. I attempted to adopt twice but both times the dog went to someone ahead of me. I was disheartened. Careworn. 

Then I saw her photo on a website. Her name was Neesy, short for nise. She was a short- haired, medium sized (55 pounds), lab mix. I clicked off the boxes of my preferred dog. She had been raised with a cat and was not an alpha personality. It was her story, however, that clinched it. The one and half year old dog had been rescued from her dying owner. Cancer prevailed within a few hours of the rescue.
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The rescuer's dog did not take to Neesy. Several attempts to merge the dogs failed. Regretfully, they surrendered her to the Humane Society. She immediately contracted kennel cough. Within days she went from her owner's bedside to sick and quarantined; I couldn't visit. I called everyday and developed a relationship with one of her caretakers. Two weeks in, I received a call late the next day that she had been cleared by the vet and they would forego adoption for 90 minutes, providing me a window. It was rush hour. I made my fastest trip ever to north side Tucson.

I entered the building and was met by the staff person I had talked to many times. All went  smoothly. I departed into the night with a folder of paperwork and a confused dog spirit on the end of a new green leash. The little golden one was afraid to jump into the truck. I climbed into the seat and called to her. She obliged. I hugged her and assured her all would be well. She was silent and still for the ride home.

Three days, three weeks, three months. That's the formula for the adjustment of a dog into a new home. The first hurdle was Hobo. I had assured Hobo I would not bring an entity into our home that would not work for him. The newcomer displayed no bad habits. No chewing. Fully housebroken. No excessive barking.  And she respected Hobo's presence. Intent to bring out the best in her, I changed her name to Dulce. Dul-say ... Spanish for sweet. 



The unfolding proceeded. I was determined not to put perfect-Teak expectations onto Dulce. As much work as puppies were, I was glad to not start at the beginning, yet anxious that some hidden neuroses would surface in an older dog and ruin the effort. End in broken hearts. As much as I could muster, I put myself in Dulce's place. What did she hear in my wild world, knowing that dogs hear high pitches 100 X more, and softer sounds we can not detect. She loosed coyote warning barks at yips I didn't hear until I opened the door. How must my world smell to her, whose olfactory map is scattered with 10 to one million times the smells and stories detected by her wet nose? Love and treats led the way.

One week in, Dulce's remained painfully shy. She hid in the bedroom when a friend showed up and wouldn't show her face to anyone but me. But oooo, she loved the life. Walks on leash became off- leash adventures. She came when called. She blossomed. Three days, three weeks, three months. My mantra.





Week Two. I coaxed Dulce into VAN-essa (new van, another blog coming) and we headed for a public trail. She saw her first deer and watched with intent, no inclination to chase. This was followed by a trip to Arivaca Lake. Dulce approached the water gingerly and within minutes was standing up to her chest watching ducks and coots. Javelina encounters followed, as she and Hobo tagged teamed on announcing their arrival.


18 comments:

  1. Oh Christina. So beautifully told. I am so very happy for you, for Dulce and Hobo. Onward wild womad with the healing of all of your hearts. Can't wait to hear about the adventures to come.

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    1. Heartfelt thanks. It's good to be back. Many blessings ...

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  2. Glad to hear from you. It's been a while. Wishing you a very good year, from Montana.

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    1. Waaaay too long Nance. SO good to hear from you. There will be more, more often. Be careful what you ask for. :)

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  3. Great Blog, wishing you and your new crew the best for upcoming adventures 😊👍😎

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  4. Wonderful post! But most of the photos aren’t showing up for me. Can’t wait to meetmDulce.

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  5. Thank you! and thanks for the heads up Emilie. Not sure about photos. I'll make them smaller and see if that helps.

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  6. Beautiful, simply beautiful, Christina. Creation, Being, heals us every time, in time. Thank you for your writing. Blessings and love.

    Most of the pics didn't show for me either.

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  7. Thank you Paul. The photos that aren't opening are larger files from my phone (I can change the size for the ones on my computer). I'll keep working on it to figure it out. Your words are heartfelt.

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  8. You described perfectly how the loss of an animal companion tears a huge hole in us. I still ache for those I lost a decade ago but the ones who have followed have helped me heal. Dulce is doing that for you and Hobo and you two for her. How special!

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    1. Thank you. It is hole that is never filled, you are right. But healed, yes, by the likes of those spirits that follow. I always have the feeling that the soul of the dog past instills and instructs that of the new arrival, and that is their way of healing us. Thank you for your words. Many blessings ...

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  9. Hi Christina, So glad to hear you are healing spiritually and physically. What a lucky dog to have you as her new mom. Hobo looks great I bet she is happy for a new companion as well. Miss talking with you. Take Care Harriet

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    1. Thank you, Harriet. You knew Teak ... hopefully you will also meet Dulce! Hobo is his ineffable self. Now he has another dog to train. You are in my thoughts, in fact, this morning before I saw your words! Many blessings...

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  10. Thank you for sharing a beautiful story

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