We hold paws under the desk while I write these words. Her warm fur comforting against my bare skin, feeling her gentle breathing..in out..in out. Her eyes are closed and she is exuding calmness and peace. She brings down my heart rate simply through the lightest touch of our bodies. She centres me and brings me calm. It washes over me, gently, warmly. I feel safe, unconditionally loved. I know that this peace only lasts just so long , as anything in life does. At some stage she will wake and stretch, her gentle eyes will get that cheeky gleam and she will shake off her nap and be ready for some mischief.
In that moment we will meet with our eyes and she will head tilt just a little. Her voice within my mind will ask..."sooo...what are we doing?" "outside?"
Her priorities are always similar, play hard then rest easy. Her genetics are what they are and she cannot be derided or blamed for who she is. She should not be judged or found lacking because she does not 'fit' a humans lifestyle or no longer meets a need in their life.
She is a beautiful example of careful breeding, her genetics chosen to fill a niche, a job, a canine career pathway. She is a Working Line German Shepherd and she is my friend, my partner in my career and my ever present comfort.
On the flipside she is also powerful both physically and mentally, not always has she been an 'easy' partner to live with. Her drives, her energy and her sharp intelligence have been a challenge to keep up with. To find drive fulfillment for her that is appropriate and safe. To provide her with guidance and boundaries when her impulse control has been lacking and to provide her with a safe place to just be who she is.
Our journey together has lasted nearly 9 years now and I know that there will not be another 9 to go. It will last as long as it does and I will be grateful for each day with her. She will age more, nap longer and not play quite as hard in the future years, I know these things as I have lived and loved these magic beings all my life. They have shaped me as a human, hopefully for the better. Teaching me humility, patience, love.
So when her time comes I will be there for her as she has been for me. I will ease her passing and grieve for her as deeply as I have all of the others that have lived out their span of years with me. I will celebrate her life and know that she has taught me far more than I have taught her. I will thank her for not being an 'easy' dog but one that has challenged both my thinking and my knowledge of all things canine. Knowledge should not stay 'fixed', it should ebb and flow as life does. We should examine our thoughts daily and put aside those that no longer fit the evidence in front of us.
We need to adapt and change, to question and explore new ideas. This is what my canine partners have brought to my life and I am forever grateful for every soul that I have shared my life with.
My very first dog was a 2 year old Dingo cross that my Dad brought home when I was born, as according to Dad every kid needs their own dog. He was wise my Dad and in that moment when Prince landed with us we were inseparable until he passed at age 18. That dog went everywhere with me, he took me to school then met me at the gate to walk me home again. After school was spent exploring and walking for miles together and if I stayed at a friends place then he would sleep under the window and wait for me.
Houses in the 70's didn't have front fences, dogs went where they pleased. A neighbor would come to the back door as the front door was for formal visitors. Every Ute had a dog on it, every tradie had their tools kept safe by their hairy mate. Sounds idyllic but there were bad folk back then too and kids were not always safe. Twice Prince saved me from abduction, a low growl was enough for the first guy but it took a good bite for the second to get back in his car and leave. Bullies left me alone and I always felt safe when he was with me. I shared everything with him, my hopes, my dreams and my hard times. He was my best mate, my confidante and shoulder to cry on so I split my pocket money spend with him. He loved cheese twisties.
That dog taught me everything Canine, communications so subtle that many would not see. His Dingo genetics made him intolerant and he taught me to respect and to read his body. We were so in tune that rarely did I need to speak out loud to let him know what was going on. He only had a lead clipped on to go to the vet. I lost him when I was 16 and miss him still but thank him for the path I took by 18, canine trainer and behaviourist. I still work in the industry all these years on and I can feel him as well as all of my old crew with me when I work with a dog to help them get back on track with life. They are like gentle ghosts, each of them bringing something to the table and nudging me along when I get 'stuck' in life.
Thank you to all those that have been before and those that are still to be.
Prince, Sam, Jessie, Kain, Junior, Nikki, Big Emm, Trouble, Gromit, Gidget, Coco, Missy, Bert, Ernie, Oscar, Emmy, Pepper....