Our Summer Garden

Had a conversation with folks from work on our summer gardens. Question was raised to me about how my tomatoes were this summer. I replied, “We didn’t plant a garden – instead, we grew dogs.”

Since we got Ava “used”, we didn’t grow her as we might raise a puppy, much like we did with Gracie.  Instead, she came to us with her own set of baggage, her own fears, her own phobias.  And it would be unfair for us to think that she’ll be all affectionate on day one – that’s impossible.

So – what we grew was trust.  And that takes time, consistency, and fairness.  We had to continue to show love to Gracie, but we had to share that love with Avaroo.  Instead of watering tomatoes – we fed and took care of dogs instead.

I think of Avaroo sometimes as an onion – you peel back one layer away and see something different inside, something delightful, something wonderful.

The past six months have been dedicated to this little 9+ pound dog and her 12+ pound younger sister. It’s been about helping them grow together as a family unit, about helping both continue to feel loved.  Dogs are amazingly complex and yet delightfully simple creatures.  They certainly have feelings, show emotions, and to that age old question – are capable, IMHO, of showing much affection and perhaps even love.

It’s neat now to look at the layers we’ve peeled back to see what we’ve got.

You’ve already read some of the other blentries that outline both Ava and Gracie’s growth together. There are a few things that stand out in my mind.

Ava’s reaction to kids and the changes has been nothing short of remarkable.  She was very fearful of kids when we got her – now, her confidence in kids has been restored – and perhaps it’s further than it ever was.  She trusts kids, she loves kids, and they love her.  Quite a change from the first night when she was so freaked out by the neighbor kids, backed out of her harness, and ran in towards the house.

On labor day weekend I took Ava by myself to an outdoor gathering. She was scared at first – what with the loud trains, the number of people, and the number of dogs. But when she and I sat down – me in my chair, and she in my lap – she showed a level of comfort that she really hadn’t shown before. What might have helped were the dozen folks that came up to say “cute doggie” and pet her. Good for the old canine self-esteem. When we got home – Sharon was there at the door to welcome us home – holding Gracie in her arms as she normally does for me. Who did Gracie sniff and lick first? Not Sharon, not I, but Ava – as if to say, “where did you go, I missed you!”

There’s the nightly “attack” when we both come home – being met at the door by 21 lbs of tail wagging dogs. With each day – Avaroo gets more and more animated – more and more joyful to see us.

Then there’s the fence “play” Ava has with the 75# Boxer next door – the first time I saw this, I couldn’t believe it and had to call Sharon out with her video camera.  So Ava is capable of play – just not with Gracie.

This past weekend at a friends party – Avaroo followed me quite literally everywhere – as if to say, “Dad, you’re my comfort zone – protect me from these strange people.” But what was really cute was this tilted head look of adoration towards me.  Or perhaps I’m reading it wrong – perhaps she was saying something else to me, maybe “Dad, your fly is open.”

There’s still much work to be done. We’ve not yet seen Ava and Gracie play together – and perhaps we never will. But they’re a cohesive little doggie family – happy as individuals, but happier together. And we see their progress – both as individual dogs and as a team – and there’s an inner joy and happiness that words cannot begin to measure.

If there’s one lesson from this – it’s that folks shouldn’t be afraid of shelter dogs.  They do take time – perhaps different time and effort from that of raising a puppy.  But it’s so worth it.

Leave a Reply

Some Hints
I think it takes a while for the videos to load... they're HD format and are pretty big files. If you click on the arrow and then immediately click the pause button. This allows the video to load. Once there is more grey line than black line, you should be able to press the play button. Enjoy.