Reverting to some of the thoughts I have had so far in my life with mum and dad, I want to touch on something that played on my mind early in my time here.
Ever since I arrived, I had been trying to work on the trust and stability aspects with my humans. For the first two and a half years of my life, I had been from pillar to post. I was looked after very well by the rescue centre. However my first time away from the rescue centre wasn’t what it should have been and there was no relationship of trust or stability being fostered with me. You may recall I had my accident with a car. There was an innate understanding of things I needed to remember and I knew there were guidelines and rules. However these weren’t really implemented for me so I just cruised along doing whatever I wanted to being honest. Beagles are somewhat difficult to train if you listen to some people. Harriers are slightly easier if you listen to the same people. Being a Beagle Harrier cross, this presented its fair share of difficulties for my humans. I am glad to say we have made huge strides in my life and understanding of where I stand now.
I was quite an independent hound when I first arrived. I didn’t think I had to rely on other people to get along, and I was fairly quiet and sometimes very stubborn. I didn’t know if this was my forever home, as I had been in at least one home before, along with the rescue centre on two occasions. Here I had a crate, I had beds, I had food, I had warmth and I had two people who seemed like they were really nice. However there was this overriding thought that would not go away. Was this it, my forever home, the stability that all furs need and crave in their lives to be happy. The early days were difficult to be honest. Everyone was trying to read everyone else’s moods, their reactions, their habits and ways of learning what to do next. For instance we had early visitors to my house, and they included young children so this, seemingly, was familiar territory for me. Whilst it only lasted a few hours, there was something different. I wasnt allowed to play as much as I had wanted to and I was being told to behave in a more controlled manner than I was used to. It appears that the little boy wasn’t sure around dogs so I couldn’t pounce and play.
From the start of my life here, the humans and I were trying to understand each other and almost train each other. I could say the atmosphere was sometimes fractious whilst we tried to work out exactly what we wanted from each other. However that would be a disservice to all concerned as there was more frustration than anything else. I had not had stability throughout my early life, I didn’t know if this was my final home, or whether I was moving on after another 6 months or so. The frustration from all of us manifested itself in all sorts of situations when things weren’t going to plan. For example when walks were turning into runs and arms were being pulled out of sockets. Initially I was on a lead and collar. It was very uncomfortable for me and I managed to make myself sick on at least one occasion. Moving on to a harness seemed like a good idea, until my independent streak kicked in when I escaped whilst in the park, and I was “free” for 3 hours. Another escape within a short time probably didn’t help the atmosphere of trust or bonding that was being sought. Cue a tighter fitting harness and I am safe now. At first I wasn’t allowed off lead in the garden, although a long training lead did start to feel a bit like freedom.
Sub consciously the weeks turned into months and the gradual acceptance of belonging came more to the front of my mind. I had been here for longer than anywhere else, and these two humans were still here. They were walking me, feeding me and I was still allowed to laze in my numerous beds. The thought that this might be the forever home was gradually becoming more of a reality with every day that passed. They created something called a birthday for me, when I got some extra food and some toys. I wasn’t going to complain as I didn’t have to do anything different for it, so I just accepted what was offered. In any case all toys got shredded fairly quickly and were left around the house for people to step on. We think this shredding of toys was another manifestation of my frustration at not knowing if I was staying or going, indeed my lack of understanding or bonding with mum and dad.
My walks were becoming less frequent in number but longer in time. We explored so many paths, fields, woods, parks and byways that I was becoming calmer with my position in the house as some of the pent up frustration was being left outside on the walks.
For a while after I arrived, I didn’t realise what it meant to have tickles, belly rubs or back scratches. I would treat most signs of affection as a signal that something was going to happen. We are going for a walk, food was about to be given, or I was going back out into the garden for a wee I didn’t need. I never dreamed or understood at first that belly rubs, a good neck scroffle or just something as simple as a great big hug meant just that. It was a sign of affection.
If we were in the garden, I was on a lead and would take up the time of at least one of mum or dad who needed to supervise me. If we were outside the garden then I would sniff and wander where I wanted to. I would get pulled fairly sharply out of thickets or hedges and never really thought about why mum and dad didn’t want me to have thorns, brambles and stinging nettles in my face. I was doing what comes naturally to an independent Beagle Harrier without any stability. I didn’t know what trust was like, I could see that they were trying to work with me, but I couldn’t yet work out how I would trust them. My heart was saying that these are good people, but my head kept interrupting and asking whether this was it? Was this house forever, when was I moving again, where was I going and would these people be forever? Gradually the trust came to the fore, I realised that days and months came and went, I was being shown the structure that I had craved, that all dogs crave, to enjoy myself. To be able to lay there, on my back on a rug, having my belly rubbed and having my ears stroked, was something that I had clearly been unappreciative of. Also to understand that the belly rub was for free, and I wasn’t expected to do anything or go anywhere for it, was really a start toward recognition on my part that I could finally feel this was my home. I had found humans who wanted to look after me, look out for me and teach me the structure of life. I was being shown how to live, walk, run and bark at the top of my voice. But overall, I was being shown, that with trust we would be alright, I wasn’t going anywhere. I was staying here, with them. We were, and remain, a team.
It took time and patience however we all trust and understand one another far more now. I was given something that many people don’t fully appreciate is vital and that is time to understand and adjust. Rescues adapt at different paces and patience is essential.
I’m still not allowed off lead outside the garden but thats another story which I am telling as I go along on my journey.