Monday, June 5, 2017

Dog Tales: A Story of Patience and Growth

On a Saturday morning in October 2015, I returned to the car after twenty or so minutes of shopping at the Hudson Farmers Market to find this note on the windshield.

That was back in the worst days of Joey's separation anxiety. Because he hated being left home alone, I would take him with me wherever I went, and, if he couldn't come with me when we reached our destination and if it wasn't too hot or too cold, I would leave him in the car. He seemed more secure and content in the car, but people walking near the car (or, heaven forfend, another dog) often triggered his barking.  

I was reminded of the note this past Saturday when I went with Joey to the farmers' market. Although, because of the note, I haven't parked beside that building since, last Saturday I did. I had agreed to meet someone at the farmers' market at 10:30, it was 10:30, and a parking space beside the building was the only one available. While at the market, I kept my ears perked for a distant familiar bark, but none came. When I returned to the car, Joey was sitting calmly and vigilantly in the driver's seat. When he saw me approach, he dutifully moved to the passenger seat.

Sunday brought even greater evidence of how far Joey has come in developing trust. Toward the end of the afternoon, we went to Hudson Wine Merchants to pick up some rosé. I parked in front of the shop and left Joey in the car while I went inside. As I was leaving the shop, there were two men on the sidewalk near the car. One was calling the other's attention to the car and the dog inside. (The combination of very small car and large dog regularly evokes comments and smiles.) Joey was sitting upright in the passenger seat; the windows were open slightly. I paused on the steps of the wine shop to observe how Joey was reacting to being the object of strangers' attention. When the man noticed me, he asked, "Is that your dog?" When I confirmed it was, he said, "He's very loyal to you, and he's so calm!"

After two and a half years together, my hyper anxious dog has learned trust.