Well, haven’t written a new post for a couple of weeks since I’ve been in technology hell revolving around my new computer. But one thing keeps me smiling that is, observing my little Sophie. And even though I’ve been physically and mentally occupied with computer issues, I can’t help reflecting about my relationship with her and thus my feelings about all animals, and their emotions. I say my relationship, but more accurately as I reflect, it is our relationship, not just mine.
I’ve always been fascinated by the behavior I’ve observed in Charlie and Teddy, both individually, together, and each as they grew from puppyhood to adult. I also used to trace their behavior back to evolutionary biology, a favorite subject of mine. But with Sophie my little adoptee, it’s different. Sophie had just turned 2 when she came home with me 7 months ago, so the changes I am observing aren’t from aging out of puppyhood, and in fact, she has become just as puppyish as Charlie and Teddy were as puppies.
But more than her playfulness, I think I am witnessing her growing trust, and her growing love for me. Relationships are dynamic and reciprocal, that is they are based upon the effects both parties have on each other. Actions and reactions cause interactions, more reactions and so on. Studies have shown that while a mother’s behavior affects the behavior of her baby, the baby’s temperament and behavior has an equal effect on the mother, which in turn then affects the mother’s behavior toward the baby, and so on. Hence, so it goes between me and Sophie. A reciprocal relationship as all relationships are.
When I first brought Sophie home it was barely a month that I had said goodbye to Teddy after a long battle with her illness. I wasn’t sure how much love I could feel so soon for another dog. But I knew in my heart that I love dogs, and that focusing on her needs and her individuality would result in my affection growing.
Of course, there was some frustration along the way particularly with figuring out why Sophie insisted on using my bed as a giant wee wee pad, but it feels like ancient history now. And I’m amazed that it feels as though the issue didn’t even exist. Maybe it’s because we have developed a loving positive relationship that has overridden any negative.
I am also amazed that I feel Sophie’s love now. Yes she gives me belly, that is, she lies on her back, legs up in the air so I can rub and kiss her belly. But more than that, she now gazes at length into my eyes, she cuddles and snuggles against me tucking her head under my chin, and I especially love when she lies on my chest facing me, looks at me and gives me kisses. And none of this involves treats!
One of the behaviors that she now also exhibits is a lack of fear with me, which swells my heart with affection. For instance, in the beginning when I would brush her, she would remain totally still although I could observe it was not her favorite thing. Now, she fights me, squirms, and well, she makes it pretty difficult for me. Thinking back. I can’t help but smile, she’s no longer afraid to fight the grooming.
I said in one of my earlier blogs that I expected that adopting an adult dog would be different than bringing home a puppy, bought or otherwise. Adult dogs have histories, too many unfortunately not good. So while all of us, human or non- human have individual personalities, puppies are kind of a clean slate. Adopted dogs come with experiences that mold their behaviors. Earning their love and trust is different than earning the love and trust of a puppy.
I never thought about this raising Charlie and Teddy, why would I. They were bundles of energy, and mischief. I had much joy and love from them, and I loved them for who they were individually. Now, I am experiencing what it is like to overcome history, with love, and patience, kindness and positive conditioning. And what feels so special is feeling her trust and love grow for me as a result.
Adopt and Save a Life!
Next: George, a rescue visits Sophie!