I'm not going to lie. I like to feel connected to my dogs. I like that they seek affection from me. That they want to lay by my side while I watch TV or read a good book. I like that they get excited when we go for a trip to the dog park or when I come home.
Daisy was not one of those dogs. She was emotionally distant. Fearful. Restrained. Reserved. Dis-Connected.
I could not expect her to wag her tail when she saw me. I got that from my dog Aspen. I never expected her to come to me for a pet. My dog Aspen did that. I would never have expected her to hang out with me on the couch while I watched TV. Aspen did that.
At the time I adopted Daisy, Aspen was my only dog. She was affectionate, funny, enthusiastic, loving, sweet, gentle, kind, and excited about life, and she was "my dog." She made my days brighter. I looked forward to seeing her when I got home from work because I knew that she would want to hang out with me. I loved taking her on walks because she loved them so. I loved to watch her hook her head over the arm of the couch to see what I was doing in the kitchen. Aspen was everything Daisy was not.
That's why Aspen's death, so soon after I adopted Daisy, hit me so hard. For some people, having a second dog is a comfort when they lose another. For me, it felt like I was all alone. There was no dog to distract me from my grief when I cried. There was no dog there to greet me when I got home or to show excitement when we went for car rides, or to just hang out on the couch with me. All I had was an empty shell of a dog. One who preferred her kennel to being in the same room with me. She was like a ghost, flitting from room to room, unable to communicate, unable to connect, unable to emote any kind of emotion at all. It was sad and lonely place to be.
What I never expected was that slowly, over time, Daisy would become more of a special dog than I ever thought she could be. Without Aspen as her guide, Daisy had to rely upon me for guidance. She had to interact with other dogs, study them, mimic them, and find her own identity. She started to trust me and seek me out. She looked to me as her protector and I took that job seriously - I still do. Tail wags? I get them from Daisy all of the time now. Seeking affection, pets and belly rubs? Yup. Daisy wants attention, pets and belly rubs all of the time now. Hanging out on the couch? Daisy does that too, on occasion. She still prefers her kennel, but she's not tied to it. She is just as happy to lie next to me on the couch or to jump onto my bed for a belly rub. And, she has a smile now. I love that smile.
Is she still fearful? Absolutely. But, every day she surprises me and proves that she can overcome her fears and be the dog she was meant to be. She's finding her inner Lab and I love that. And, I love her... very much.