For those of you who have joined us more recently, let’s start today with a bit of history after Wednesday’s post about having another go at philosophy.
Luther is our most recent Newfoundland rescue. In addition to Sarah and Phoebe, he makes three in residence, for a total of about 350 pounds of dog. Much of it hair.
In the 14 months this big guy has been with us, he has become one of my greatest teachers.
Luther came from a puppy mill in Michigan. He was estimated to be between two and three years old at the time.
Clearly, it was not a healthy existence.
The poor guy was terribly thin. He had scraggly, patchy hair, poorly developed eyesight, and, to add to the indignity of all that, had just been neutered.
Beyond those challenges, he was terrified. Of people. Noises. Cars.
Did I say noises?
Basically, he was terrified of everything.
The therapist-type in me who is conversant in the DSM-5 realized quickly that he was frequently dissociative which means that anything or anyone new triggered his only survival strategy… literally trying to disappear into the floor.
To say that he is a whole different dog these days is the understatement of several centuries!
He loves everybody and is always ready to join the wave of dog-ness that washes over people at our door.
He rides happily in the car and is thrilled to go to Camp. He even wags all over when the Vet comes to visit.
Sometimes I forget how far he’s come.
Like when I’m tired and pissed at him for not quite having figured out “No”, which happened, as you may recall, just this week.
Tonight I got a huge reminder of all the ways his spirit continues to triumph despite all he’s been through.
Tonight, he let me trim his ears. With scissors!
To say that Luther’s been reluctant to come on board with the notion of grooming is yet another huge understatement.
We’ve taken it slow. Microscopically slow.
Petting was a first start. Touching his toes and ears. Hugging.
Eventually, we got to brushing. Along his spine only, at first. Slowly. Oh, so slowly we made it to towels, which are still an if-fy proposition some days.
His ears have remained the big issue. We’re talking lots of dog with lots of hair on the inside of his ears where it causes lots of trouble.
Perhaps it was the phase of the moon, but tonight he was ready.
We got one ear all cleaned up and the second (far worse) one about 75% done. I’m talking scissors and everything!
The ironic thing is that I almost didn’t try.
I was going to be happy with just some general brushing and bonding, complete with a small truckload of dehydrated beef liver treats.
Instead, we even got a bit of hair trimmed around the edge of the ear leather. He’s in no danger of winning Westminster but he doesn’t look nearly so much like his mama dresses him funny.
Perhaps you’re wondering why I went for it tonight.
I am, too!
It kind of reminds me of Dave’s first hair cut.
I suspect it has something to do with a recent Zoom meeting that reminded me of the theory that virtually all human choices are made out of either fear or some variation on love/passion/enthusiasm.
I’m trying hard to choose love.
I’m also hoping Luther and I are both going to sleep better tonight.
He looks pretty tired right now. After all, teaching is hard work!
Maybe next week we’ll work on the philosophy thing some more. And the second ear.
Many things are possible!