The sky darkened from dusk to inky blue. Disco the sweet black pup became an exhausted brat jumping on my old dog Willow, biting at the leash when she went out for a last pee, mad with frantic energy.
I knew the antidote.
I picked up her squirmy body, held her close, lay on the couch, and covered us with a red yak hair blanket. Even the color of the blanket was warm. I held a rope toy in one hand so Disco could chew and release the last tension from her day of playing, training, and learning limits. She chomped for a few seconds before relaxing against my beating heart.
She shifted and squirmed until every inch of her belly pressed into my body and sighed again with a huffing exhalation. We both sighed, resting in the warmth of our heart fire.
After Disco settled, my old girl Willow joined us in her preferred spot on the floor. I held one hand on Willow’s back and the other on the pup. We shared a three animal sigh after another day of learning to live together.
This little package of wild energy was born in Florida in the heat of August. A Leo girl brought north in October by the SPCA, she shivers in the cold. Since it will only get colder, I’ll keep feeding our inner fire along with teaching her to wear a sweater.
Our heart connection began during her first week home when she slept in my bed. Under the covers. She pushed her body against my heart, tucked her nose under my chin, and radiated heat like a hot water bottle as I became surrogate for the touch and sounds of her five littermates and before that her mom.
“That’s not a good idea,” my vet said. “When she’s older it’s OK, but she needs to get used to a crate and not expect your body will always be there. You’ll make her too dependent.” I knew she was right, but I dreaded a howling pup and a night without sleep.
To ease the transition, I lay on the couch with her as she relaxed into the night while I watched the apricot-cherry remnants of sunset along the western horizon. I gently carried the sleepy pup upstairs as Vic and I once carried our baby boys. Instead of a crib, I slid her into her crate with a soft bed and a chew toy. That first night, she whimpered a few times. I put my fingers in the crate. She nibbled and licked before she quieted.
Since then, Disco the dog who dances all day follows me upstairs, sighs, and falls asleep after a few minutes of cuddling. Willow snores on her favorite cushion on the other side of my bed. A warm ember glows in my chest as I drift off to sleep.
It isn’t all sunshine living with a young pup, but her manners are improving and she doesn’t protest about being put in a crate when she’s in a maniac mood. My house looks like a dog kennel with fences, crates, and gates. Lisa Baechtle who’s staying here helps more than I can say with knowledgeable advice, sweetness, puppy care, and special attention for Willow. I take Disco to excellent weekly training classes and we practice each day. When I bring up “problems” like pulling on the leash when she’s excited, our trainer Timm Conn smiles and says, “She’s young. It takes a few years to train a dog.”
What hard task have you taken on that didn’t seem rational, wise, or practical–and yet you needed to do it? For another post about my long love affair with dogs, see How My Dog Taught Me the Power of Ritual. For my first post about Disco, see Inspired by Artemis, Lured by Joy. I wish you a Blessed Winter Solstice and a warm hearth and heart.