Living with Ray in those early years was a massive education for me. Because Ray was my first dog, I not only had to learn how to interact with him; how to establish mutually acceptable behaviour patterns; how to “read” his body language, but also (as a context for this Post) how to try and see the world from his perspective. If I could understand his view of the world, I might be able to understand him!
When I was writing “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” I decided that, after I had told the various stories that made up my emotional roller-coaster ride (being the first 18 months of sharing my life with him), I would try and re-tell those stories from what may have been Ray’s perspective. With a bit of creativity, and a lot of help from our local Humane Society and a number of professionals in the business of dogs, the Chapters were expanded accordingly. Below is Ray’s perspective on a number of events from Chapter 11 – And so the seasons change (from “Who Said I was up for Adoption?“)
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I love the Fall! That’s the time when we dogs with thick fur coats really appreciate the cooler days, but mainly I love the leaves. I’ve always loved to run through them and listen to all the crunchy noises that I was making. Leaves hide all sorts of interesting things so I would go crazy trying to find stuff in them. When Colin has raked them into a big pile, I can just dive in and play. I can bury a tennis ball in the pile and then try and find it. I can even grab a mouthful of leaves and throw them in the air or, maybe best of all, roll around on my back in the pile which feels soooooooooooo good.
I have to tell you this story. After a regular walk with Colin, we came home and as soon as were through the back gate, Colin went into the house for a few minutes and left me in the garden. This was not unusual, and I’m always happy to wander around and check for any squirrel activity because I love to chase those little guys. They zip up into the trees and make all sorts of noises at me. It’s probably not very polite and, if I could climb trees, I’d make sure they understood that!
Anyway, I did play with one of my tennis balls for a short while and then I decided to go back to the house and wait for Colin to let me in. When I got to the bottom of the steps, that lead up to the back door, I noticed that the back gate was wide open! My instinct was to run through it and explore, but then I remembered that being free to explore was not necessarily that great. Living here with both Carol and Colin was really nice as I felt safe, and had regular meals. They always talked to me nice and softly and, to be honest, I think they really liked having me as part of their pack. I had too much to lose, so I decided to just sit and wait for Colin. When he eventually opened the door, he looked a little apprehensive for some reason, but I just went up the steps and into the house. That seemed to make him much happier!
It did not seem long after the back gate incident that we had our first snow fall. I just love the snow because I can play with it just like the leaves! At around the same time, the house started to look different. I saw little snowmen appear on tables, and a tree was brought up from that mysterious land down the stairs, and decorated with lights and stuff. Then a few pretty packages and some envelopes were placed around the tree. I’d never seen anything quite like it before but it was all very interesting. One morning, a few days later, all three of us sat on the floor and opened the packages and envelopes and you’ll never guess! Inside one of the packages was a furry toy for me!
It did not seem long before everything disappeared and our home was back to normal once more. I did have another surprise coming though. We all got into the SUV and Colin drove us to this place that had a large parking lot and a hall. We all went into the hall and I was so surprised because other dogs were there. I couldn’t see them because they were in sort of little fenced areas with a bed sheet or blanket or something to hide them from view, but I knew they were there, just as they would have known that I was there.
The human who seemed to be in charge was really nice and seemed to want us dogs to greet each other but just one at a time. All the dogs were very nervous so she would just let them see each other at a distance at first. Then she would slowly bring them closer together. The dog that I was going to meet was much smaller than me and, while I felt okay in the hall with that lady (and of course Carol and Colin), that poor dog seemed to be extremely nervous about meeting me. Why, I have no idea.
After a while, we moved outside to the parking lot where a number of dogs could practice greetings at the same time. Some of the dogs barked as soon as they saw another dog but after sometime, I could see that they were getting more comfortable with each other. I had no real issue with any of the dogs as long as they didn’t get too close! After a few visits I soon got used to them.
The main thing I learned was how to greet other dogs, including letting them sniff my rear and, contrary to what I thought, nothing bad happened. In fact, it took all the pressure off this whole meeting thing if I just followed the right sequence of greeting. Check rear; followed by checking other bits; followed by nose touch if desired.
I was probably her perfect student!
It can get really cold around here in Winter, which is not a real problem for me except that the snow piles get higher and higher and I really don’t like climbing snow piles because suddenly my feet sink right in which feels really uncomfortable. When out for my walks I usually followed the packed down snow trails rather than try and climb over the tops of snow piles.
When it’s extremely cold, and the sidewalks are covered in sharp stuff, it can really hurt my paws so I stop and rest for a while. Sometimes Colin would take off his gloves and wipe the snow and stuff out and then put both his hands around my hurting paw until it warmed up a little. When I was ready, I’d just withdraw it from his hands and we would continue. Before long, I was the owner of a set of winter boots and guess what? They matched my fur coat colours. They were really awkward to walk in and I probably looked silly getting used to them. Well, actually, I know that I looked silly getting used to them because not only were my feet going all over the place, but Colin was grinning! However, it didn’t take long for me to work it out.
Carol and Colin were in the back garden with me (I thought it was a good time to just lay there and enjoy the sights and sounds) when Colin picked up a ball and threw it across the grass. He then looked at me and I looked at him. He then walked over to the ball, picked it up, and threw it across the grass again but this time he looked at me and indicated that I was expected to do something. I’d no idea what he wanted. The ball could clearly be seen so it’s not as if I had to go looking for it, so I just lay there and watched. He tried once more but it all seemed rather odd and so I could only assume that he was playing some kind of game on his own, like I sometimes do.
Then Carol picked up the ball and basically did everything that Colin had done except that she was far more excited about the game. If I’d understood what the game was all about, I might’ve joined in. Then, when one of them threw the ball across the grass, they would both become very animated and chased the ball down while waving to me. It all seemed very odd, albeit entertaining, so I just smiled inwardly and put my head down once again. Clearly they were both happy playing in the garden.
I’d been back into a regular walking routine for some time now and so I was getting less nervous, although still cautious, whenever we met another person or a dog. The training course that I was on to get me used to other dogs, worked for me a little. Then they started giving me treats whenever another dog approached which was great. Strange dogs equal treats! I can work with that concept!
I think it was around this time that I was taken to a TD Canada Trust Bank and, when we saw a lady inside the bank, she offered me a treat! In order to get it fast I had my front paws up on the top of the counter in a flash and was reaching for the treat. I don’t think she realized that I was going to do that, and was obviously a little surprised, but she apparently realized that I was just rather excited and so she then gave me the treat. I eventually discovered that all the humans at that bank had access to treats, although some of them are clearly not forthcoming with them. Perhaps they just don’t like dogs? I really find that hard to believe, especially when I give them my best friendly look!
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If you are interested in my perspective on the above events, “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” is available direct from FriesenPress Bookstore, and all the usual on-line book retailers. The book cover “link” to the right (may have to scroll) will take you to amazon.com which is where most reviews are located.
Finally, “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” is a not-for-profit venture, with all net profits being directed to the Oakville & Milton Humane Society.