We spent Saturday morning at a popular Maple Syrup festival. The main street was shut down and filled with local artisans peddling their wares; children sat on bales of hay licking their sticky, sweet fingers and crowds of people moved through the festival, stopping now and then to greet neighbours with a hearty hello. It was not, however, Sophie's favorite scene. She pulled on her leash - which she hates. She cowered at the noise. She huddled up close to my legs when we stopped, with her tail tucked in. There were other dogs at the festival: big, gentle Labs with two or three kids hanging off them; a little Yorkie walking confidently down the sidewalk at the end of her flexi lead; a Retriever puppy dozing away in his owner's arms. But not Sophie...which is why we don't often take her on outings like that anymore.
Sophie went to many events like this when she was a pup as I attempted to acclimate her to everything...a Santa Claus parade; Remembrance Day ceremonies; our local Bread & Honey festival. She was generally okay although never completely comfortable, but I thought if we kept exposing her she would adjust and be that dog I wanted that I could take anywhere with me. As time went on, however, as she started to come into her own and I grew to know this dog that I would be sharing my life with, I realized that she had her own nature, her own personality and I wanted her to be the dog that she was...not the one that I was trying to mold her into being.
So leash walks became fewer as we sought out our trails; we steered away from crowds as she bounded through wide green fields and play dates with other dogs fell by the wayside as we perfected our agility course dance together. I believe our connection is stronger because I recognize Sophie's nature and permit her to be what she needs to be: a spirited border collie who loves to run wild with the wind. On the occasions when we are at the dog park and Sophie, while not at all aggressive, is disinterested in the other dogs, I will often have people say: "It's too bad she's not interested in playing with other dogs." And I ask myself...is it?
Dogs are diverse and unique creatures....it's one of the things that I love the most about them. They have distinct traits...some genetic, some taught...but the sum of those traits make them the dogs that they are. I can remember when I started to really see Sophie....swimming in a blue lake on a clear day; tearing down the rail trail wild-eyed with a tail full of burrs; driving a flock of sheep over a rolling meadow. And I can remember closing my book on leash training for the last time; canceling our Tuesday night play sessions; and just smiling at the person who thought it was too bad she wasn't social enough with other dogs. As I toss the Frisbee for this great dog, watching with pride as, leaping into light of the setting sun, she pulls it effortlessly out of the air, I think: she loves me just the way I am...at the very least I can return the favor.
Brand New Look
1 year ago