When Ray is asleep, it is easy to reflect back on his time with us. Of course when he is asleep, it invariably means we also have to figure out which foot belongs to which leg, and how he got himself into that position!
However, back to reflecting … it is clear that he is aging. His muzzle has a lot of grey hairs now, as do his eyelashes.
It is clear that he is very comfortable around people, as he will show no reservations in going up to most total strangers. We know it is food motivated because we managed to beat his former aggressive behaviour by teaching him that people (and dogs) mean treats. His behaviour is so different from his early years with us.
It is clear that he has trained us well. Only this evening (Monday), he came into the bedroom doorway and stood still … staring at me. I was on the computer, so I stopped and just stared back at him. He walked in and up to me; turned around, and took a few steps towards the doorway. He then stopped and turned his head to look at me again. As soon as I stood up and took a step towards him, he headed off through the living room, the dining room, and into the kitchen to where his food bowl was. Not coincidentally of course, it was around his dinner time!
It is clear that he has figured out how to work within the framework of a human lifestyle. If he is out in the garden and wants to come back in, he just stands outside the back door and gives a single controlled “Woof!”. Not so long ago, I was in our basement and clearly missed his “Woof!” He simply made a slight adjustment and gave another single, but louder, “Woof!” I heard that one.
It is clear that he has changed from a dog who did not want to be touched, to one who now loves physical contact. If we start massaging his back in the general neck/shoulders area, he will often change positions at a strategic moment in order to enable us to work down his spinal column to his rear.
It is clear that, for all the adjustments he has had to make (and there are so many), he has been able to maintain his personality. He most certainly has a will of his own, and will demonstrate that often. If I want to go in one direction, and almost 80lbs of Ray is sitting on the sidewalk clearly wanting to go in another direction, then it becomes a battle of wits and/or patience. Fortunately, he does understand sounds like “We’re going to the bank”, “We’re going to Lululemons”, “We’re going to the mailbox” and a few others, and all those places usually involve him getting treats.
We have a route that has no opportunity for treats so, just for Ray, we created one. At an intersection which is about half way round the route, he has a treat party! He knows that “Treat Party” means he will get quite a few treats!
For a dog who did not know how to get his back legs up steps; who did not know too much (if anything) about canine social etiquette; who really had a very negative view of the world he found himself in … it is clear that he has adjusted very well, and seems to be very happy and content with his life now.
It is clear that he knew what he was doing when he touched his nose to mine so many years ago (full story is in my book about him “Who Said I was up for Adoption?”), and it is also clear that we made a good decision to invite him into our family. Ray will have been with us seven years this coming March, and is now estimated at around 9+ years old.