Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Luna almost a year later

It will be one year on January 1st that Luna entered our lives as a terrified and shaking little dog who did not know how to eat out of a dish. What a difference time, love and good food makes! Of course, it helps that Luna lives with Bubba, who is the most patient and kind dog imaginable.

Rescuing a dog like Luna is a blessing as I was able to watch her grow and blossom. Whereas Luna used to cower when people came to the door, she now runs to greet people and waves her little black paws in the air in a ritualistic dance of the poodle spirits.

Luna did not know how to walk on a leash. She walks like a champion both on and off leash.

Luna is still fussy about her dishes and has one dish, known as THE dish in which her meals are served. One day THE dish got broken and it was hastily glued lest Luna starve!

Luna loves to be groomed and has decided that she too can groom..her people. She tries to comb my hair when I sit with her. Vidal Sassoon has nothing to fear from Luna!

We have learned that Luna is a hoarder. (I know there are TV shows about this). Luna will take a treat but not eat it and run with it...to her 'stash'. She has a few of them. It is food in case of nuclear disaster. Bubba used to raid her stash to show her how silly it is. Luna will also stash her toys there. Luna has not yet internalized that she has no need to stash, that there will always be plenty to eat here. Bubba has never known deprivation, and has no concept of a stash.

We have learned that Luna is a talker. She is my second female dog and like Sophie, Luna has a range of vocalizations and sounds. She does not just bark..she will actually talk. So far, we have deciphered that a high pitch ammm awmmmn mmmm means I am thrilled to see you. A lower pitched, sound that drops at the end of her 'sentence' like hmmm hmmmm mmmm means "let me out please" if you ignore or do not hear her request, she will repeat it never loudly but with more emphasis, the pitch rises. Bubba has a baritone growl grrrrrrr. His grrrr can mean "Get off my chair" or "I want more food or a treat...now". It is really quite interesting to note that their vocalizations are very specific...and by no means random. Where is the Star Trek universal translator when you need it?

Luna is also quite the dancer. When she returns from a walk and has extra energy she will dash madly in the livingroom and spin at a very high speed. All the while, she sings it sounds like a growl and to the untrained ear could sound aggressive but this is her ritual dance. She is dancing to her gods..dancing for joy. After a few minutes, she stops whirling and she goes on the couch for a sleep.

Many people believe dogs are purely creatures of instinct but I have seen a little creature that was surviving(just barely) and terrified of everything...develop a personality and cultivate interests and a soul. She sings, she speaks and rejoices in life with her dancing. Initially, Luna would have been incapable of doing any of these things as her basic need for security, food and shelter was not met. She has now self actualized in the sense that she has a personality that is independent of her basic needs and distinct from me or Bubba.

Bubba has been amazing with Luna. He has NEVER growled at her despite the fact that she will steal treats from him as he is eating them. He has never been impatient with her, and a week after she arrived, Bubba (who at the time was in pain from a cancerous tumour), walked over to her, tapped her and invited her to play with him. Quite an effort for him. Bubba shares his plate and even his bed. He allows Luna to take his favourite spots and not once has he crushed her spirit or growled or barked at her. Bubba has been instrumental in her healing. Unfortunately, there is only one Bubba!

Bubba has shown that when dealing with dogs that have PTSD as Luna certainly had, the key element is gentleness and acceptance. Come share my blanket...share my food. Bubba never pushed her.

Following Bubba's lead, we have encouraged Luna and allowed her to grow and become the little black creature that she is today, full of joy, energy and love.

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