This coming Wednesday Finn will have been with me for two weeks–see previous post, Rescue Dog: Meet Finn (Survivor). It fills my heart with joy all the ways this sweet, sweet dog has come around. He is putting on weight faster than I’d hoped was possible. He sleeps, something he really couldn’t do very well when he first came in and something I never get tired of seeing. He eats more than he could at first, good home-cooked food. He plays. His physical wounds are healing and his fur is growing in. And he seems to understand that he has a home, something that, because of some of his behaviors, I’m not sure he’s ever had.
It’s clear he’s never been allowed inside because he was so uncertain about crossing the threshold on that first day. Even still he hesitates at the door and searches my face before he’ll enter — and yet he is house broken.
There is something surrounding eating. Even when I first took food to him uptown, when I’d seen him and he wouldn’t get in my car, when he was starving and skin and bone, he was afraid to eat. He’d tip his head away from me and cringe in a very submissive posture, refusing to eat if I was near. I’m happy to say he now eats out of my hand. It seems clear some of the old conditioning remains but, little by little, he’s coming to know that being fed is a good thing, a joy to be celebrated. He openly wags his tail when I’m preparing his meals now.
I think he’s coming to know attention is a good thing. He wants to be petted and regularly extends a paw asking for it — at the same time he stands very rigid, all muscles taut, barely breathing when I reach out to him or look at him. He does that submissive sort of cringe, tucking his head away, at the same time he is leaning into me. He wants to be loved and noticed, to be touched, but he also fears and dreads it. Rather like we humans who have been hurt too much by love.
The shifting dynamic in my little home has been quite a challenge: how to honor my original family of two dogs and five cats at the same time making this new, sensitive, cautious soul feel welcomed, something I’m not sure he’s ever truly been. Skye is totally smitten with him, which is especially sweet, since she came into the house just over a year ago, starving also. It seems she understands Finn perhaps more than the rest of us do. And she is extending herself in ways I’ve not seen from her before—a huge relief since on that first night she attacked full out. And Finn and Kelee are bonding over chasing coyotes out of the yard.
He is an easy dog. He’s very smart and wants to fit so he watches us and makes decisions. He knows Kelee needs to be the number one alpha male, so he defers to him in spite of his own alpha-ness. He makes himself small when he feels he needs to, he’s gentle and tender with the cats, and he’s also FINALLY taught Skye the last lessons of housebreaking (thank you Finn)!
He goes out across the fields to explore and I see him, off in the distance, remember he has a place to return to. I call his name and watch his head lurch up, eyes filled with joy. The sun glints on his yellow fur and he dances over top the winter grasses, running the path he’s never known before—the one that brings him home.
Love to you all,
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