Saturday, June 16, 2012

What We Need

     The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan, repeats over and over that dog owners receive the dog they need, not the dog they want. It seems a bit backwards, a shy person owns a boisterous dog, an outgoing person lives with an animal who is timid to a fault, and a low energy couple pick out the highest energy pup from the litter and learn just how hard it can be to train a dog. I ponder this idea: that we get in life not what we want, but what we need. Sounds suspiciously like the way God sometimes works in our lives.
Kindu relaxing on my feet
     I have a self-concept that includes a good knowledge of how to get my dog to do what I want them to do. Some might call this training. When I first received a full-blood, AKC, registered basenji from Gary as an engagement gift, I anticipated no problems whatsoever training her. Petite Seraph (French for Little Angel) arrived in my home at 4 months old. I had trained Ginger, my first dog, by instinct alone. Ginger still lived with me, but neither of us could fathom how to get Seraph to do anything we wanted her to do. What I didn’t realize was that as a pup, Ginger spent most of her day with my mom while I was away at school. That well-honed instinct that I thought I had, had all along enjoyed the helping hand of Mom who had a lifetime of experience with dogs.
     Suffice it to say that the “little angel” basenji girl nearly drove Gary and me to divorce in the first year of our marriage. That is until I met Sam Kahua and enrolled Seraph in his obedience class. He laughed out loud when he saw a basenji standing in line that first class. And although she was a stubborn dog, I have won awards for my perseverance too. Every class and every training session became a battle of strong-willed females. Me, determined to train this dog to behave, Seraph, determined to remain the “wild thing” that I’ve heard basenji means in Swahili. Sam stood amazed when we both graduated his advanced class with my “little angel” heeling off leash and following my every command.
     Today, 35 years later, I’ve learned quite a bit about convincing basenjis to listen. However, Kindu recently realized that Star has come to stay. And he’s not too happy about her stealing the limelight from his life on occasion. Most importantly to him however, is sharing his man, Gary, with a girl. Simply put, he doesn’t like it and is at a total loss about what to do about it. Most of the problems arise in the evening when the pack comes together in the living room to watch TV. Kindu always took up his position between Gary and me and all was right in his world. Nowadays there is quite a bit of shuffling going around.
     Star’s arrival calmed Kindu considerably. Although just as enthusiastic about walks and visitors, his demeanor is more adult now. He is approaching 5 years old and I expected to see him mature, but the lack of some of his mischief creates a sense of loss for me. The loss of puppyhood I guess, although I find it hard to define. Funny how life is, when he was so full of himself I kept asking when he would grow up. Now that he no longer grabs a cell phone or opens drawers to remove sweaters, I miss the little guy who could always make me laugh out loud…not necessarily the dog we want, but somehow the dog we need.