I went away this week on a retreat with one of my dogs, Chips. He’s a lovely, lovely boy and despite a bit of random barking he was very well behaved. He listened when other dogs asked for space, played with the right ones and avoided the ones who didn’t want to play. He was relaxed and happy.
Chips is around eleven now and has turned into the loveliest old man. His grey face and huge eyes are typical of ageing dog. He’s always been a barker and he’s the reason why my books exist at all. Chips is anxious and (with age) relaxed, sound phobic and gentle, loud and louder, he’s sensitive.
A few months ago Chips slipped a disc in his back. He’s on painkillers and sometimes steroids, he’s on supplements and the best food. He likes his space and doesn’t like being touched without inviting it. He’s amazing.
He’s so good that even when someone sat on him – he didn’t protest, he’s wise and kind.
It’s interesting that this little dog has created so many personas over his life. Barking, lunging and chasing were his choices when scared. Barking in particular now, sometimes laid out flat on his back in a complete state of relaxation with no intention of doing anything practical to chase the world away.
It’s amazing that the little fat faced dog with short hair and kennel cough we bought home is now this hugely hairy, wise old wizard of a dog. It’s interesting that he taught me so much more than I could ever teach him. From necessity I learned how to help him. Then from a place of love I realised there were more of you out there with sensitive dogs in an insensitive world. Dogs who were speaking all the time, but ignored until they met you, someone as determined as me to properly listen. Dogs who were punished for nothing other than being scared and pushed around because it’s ok they were just the dog, their feelings really didn’t matter too much.
As Chips heads into his twilight years, his old age and his sugar nosed wonders, my heart aches. For him but mostly for me, because one day I know he won’t be here anymore. He’s lived a lovely life so far, he’s started a dog understanding business and written many books and courses, just by being at my feet whilst I typed. He’s a true ambassador in the sensitive dog world. He was meant to be here, and despite the pain we will be facing at some point in the future, the embarrassment of his younger years, the fighting with strangers and all the apologies for barking. I would take him back to that fat faced puppy in a heartbeat and do the whole thing again. Because sometimes a dog is lifechanging, and Chips is a lifechanging dog.