Saturday, December 2, 2006

Who's Training Whom?

In January, 2006, a Helping Paws volunteer placed a soft, fuzzy, sleepy puppy in my arms and just like that our new life as a foster family for Belle was born. Since that day, Belle has grown from a nine pound pup to a beautiful fifty-two pound dog – and our new life has grown with her. She’s gone from simple vocal cues such as sit and drop to more complex sequences of cues - responding to hand signals as well as voice. She can open doors with the push of her snout, bring smiles to strangers with the tilt of her regal head, and wake her favorite teenager with exuberant kisses, snuffles, and full body wriggles.

Mornings are what have changed the most since Belle arrived. She greets each new day the same, with pure puppy joy. Her morning walk must always wait until she can show us how much she loves us. Even the cats get a kiss - if they dare to come close enough. I’ve often wondered how different our world would be if we each woke up and greeted the ones we love the way she does. How much easier it is to start off the day after experiencing such happiness.

Despite twenty years of living in the same house, we’ve met more of our neighbors in the last ten months then in all of the years previous. Who knew there were so many persons out and about at six a.m.? And they always say good morning. It’s easy to talk to someone you haven’t met before when they’re so interested in hearing about your dog that they don’t even notice your hair is standing on end….

Three years ago, we lost the light of our lives, our husband and father. Suddenly, unexpectedly our old life was over. Some months after, my dad (a wise man) told me I had to learn to love the life that Joe and I wouldn’t share. It’s been quite a journey - filled with longing for what was while having to live in the now. Belle came to us and filled our days with new challenges, new hopes, new light. She is our first wonderful step in the beginning of a life we’re still learning to love. Yet she needs no cue to show us how to live again with joy. She simply wakes up.

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