Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Hound duties - End-of-duty report

Now that the Golden week is so long gone, now that we have left the vacationing frenzy behind us, now that people have returned to their usual 5:2 ratio of workweek versus weekend I am experiencing what having a big dog means.

For those of you who have no idea about dogs, well know that there are dogs and dogs: the one I am having the great pleasure to spend the month with is fairly big, strong, and with a tendency of chasing any, ANY thing he decides represents a target. The smaller the subject/object of interest, the bigger the interest. Yes, fun times, and forget crowded places, keep the alert always high the leash short, and people who think he's cute at distance, if they care for their lives...

The first two weeks were mostly spent in healing the dog's broken soul after the parting from his beloved human. I am a person with no patience, but I was surprised to have found I have a lot of patience in this case, instead. We walked hours and hours each day, hoping that exhaustion would trigger hunger, but it didn't work. I don't know where animals find all that energy.

The week after that was the return to work life with the added value of a loooong commute. I figured I'd leave home early and come back early so that I would 1) beat the crowds and 2) spend more time at home taking care of who became my one and only priority. The result was that, well, I'd still be away from home too long, and I'd be woken up at 5am on a Saturday...what do dogs know about weekends...but on the bright side, after the (super early) morning walk, we'd go back to sleep curled up together for few more hours.

Theeeeen, my commute for the next two weeks was on a bike, but again I had to leave early if I wanted to go back early and ride on the road while still bright outside. I can't hit the road at 7pm, I just can't. If it is dangerous daytime, imagine night time when people speed more...
So, I couldn't fix the Saturday morning habit, but I stayed away from home for a shorter time, with a clearly manifested hound happiness for that.

Now, it really is amazing how quickly these animals get used to new/different routines and new/different owners...they of course don't change their loyalty to the one human they accompany, but surely they find reasons to put up with all the changes (slowly, and only when they're in the mood). We went from total fasting to eating (although many are the days when the dog stares at his bowl, ponders, then decides against, just because he hopes he gets something better...I am still convinced the food picked for him is not that good); from I-pretend-you-are-not-here pose (stare in front of him all the time) to play together (now he suddenly decides it's time to jump and bite and has caught me out of surprise a few times); from the excessive whining and licking that's reserved for those who visit the house after a long time to one lick of welcome (no reason to be exxaggerately happy to see someone you see every day, once you figure you'll see them everyday); from being evasive to being social...and much more.

This buddy here has still got a lot of mood swings, exactly like me, so maybe that's why I am patient. He's selfish (feed me, walk me, massage me, leave me alone), suspicious, curious, disappointed, and how to blame him for that? However communicative (these animals, they compensate with their behavior for lacking speech), there is no way that I can guess everything, like when to play and when to sleep, how to play, how closeness is allowed, how much indulgence is too much, how much patience is too cetera.

After a whole month I can say I am just happy for the fact that a dog could accept a "stranger" as caretaker, and we both were learning a lot in the process. A lunatic can definitely recognize another lunatic when they meet...and they can get along.

After a whole month, I can say we have bonded, in some ways, and many are the proofs of such bonding: trust, physical contact, rough play, sofa sharing, lots and lots of licking, cleaning, grooming, understanding. And no matter how angry or frustrated or sad I can be on a day, I simply rub the dog's back, I take a nap with his nose on my legs and everything is forgotten, everything is forgiven.

Will I be sad to go back to my normal life? Yes, of course, but the return of the one and only human who makes a dog a happy dog is enough a reason to look forward to normality again.

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