I am undeserving of Dog.
She wakes with the desert sun. Our windows face the dawn and she stretches into the orange rays of early light- bowing low with her front legs, lithe body elongated, tail straight, yawning mouth agape, tongue curled daintily. She finishes her dinner, maybe gets a sip of water. She peeks into the bedroom at sleeping Human. Human should wake up and see this sunrise, Dog may think.
Dog carefully and critically uses paws and nose to rifle through her toy basket for just the right one. Which one will Human most like? Which will make Human happiest?
She selects one. Puts it back. Chooses another. Grabs two. Settles for a squishy ball.
Human is laying on her side on the edge of the bed. Hair obscures face but soft breathing is encouragement enough for Dog to intervene. Dog places Toy on the face of Human. Here, I brought you a thing. It is my favorite thing and I brought it for you. Wake, let’s play! I love you. Here is this thing for us.
Human awakens. An eager brown muzzle topped with butterscotch eyes greets her with gentle bumps, Toy squishing between the two faces. Human is amused–her sleepy eyes reflect love and humor–but is not as willing to capitulate as Dog wishes. I do this every morning. Why doesn’t she understand yet? I must need to continue training Human, Dog thinks.
Dog wanders away with Toy, pleased with herself if not her latent Human. She entertains herself as the sun creeps higher and the rabbits emerge outside. A lifetime passes. The sun is now a whisker above the horizon. This is not okay. Human needs another reminder, Dog decides.
The empty bowl is always a sure bet. Dog lightly picks up her empty dish and carries it in to Human. Human is facing away from her now though so Dog deftly leaps onto the bed and deposits the bowl on Human. Human’s eyes stay closed but her mouth shifts into a smile with teeth. “Hi little baby,” she mumbles in sing-song. Dog recognizes this greeting. It means Human is up. Human is happy. Human is ready to play! Dog vaults from the bed and out of the room. Human tosses back the ensconcing sheet and shuffles out to the garage for a scoop of breakfast. Dog prances about her legs, eager for pets and mumbles of affirmation. The bowl, now filled, is placed in the kitchen. Human stumbles back into her room and collapses on the bed. Dog stares with perked ears and tilted head for a moment, then focuses her energy on her breakfast. I will resume training Human after Food.
I am undeserving of Dog. Her enthusiasm for life is unrivalled and her love for me, her untrained Human, is implicit. She periodically goes missing on our morning runs or rides through the desert chaparral. I panic the same every time. She returns at her leisure, panting and foaming, eyes sparkling; the same every time. She is training me good, if not quite at her pace.
I picked her up at the airport on the evening of June 25th. She had flown from Colorado on two flights, yet her crate was still tidy and her outlook undimmed. In the year since then, Scout has grown from a 15-lb wiggleworm into a graceful (yet gawky) 50-lb fox. She is cunning, fast (AF), and loving.
She and I spent a lot of our first months in frustrated tears due to the other’s incomprehensible behaviors. Since then we have reached an unspoken understanding of one another. Patterns are predictable. Routines are established.
Scout has learned about bikes, stairs, roadtrips, lakes, rivers, pools, salt water, harnesses, life vests, campgrounds, high altitudes, higher temperatures, dog parks, dog sitters, dog kennels, and ‘dogcations.’
She has cost an arm and a leg in surprises, both good and bad. She recognizes her BarkBox when it arrives each month, full of new things to shred apart. She has a bumpy scar on her ribcage from stitches received after a dog attack.
She has seen me at my best and she has been by me during the worst.
Scout is not what I expected and nothing like I imagined, but she’s mine and I’m so happy to wake up with her muzzle in my face every morning. I am undeserving of such a dog.
Video: A Year with Scout