The other day I was walking Lula with my downstairs neighbour — Lula’s godfather (which is what we call him for his role in bringing Lula to our home, see the blog post Lula) and their family’s little dog Maya, and “Juan” said “So it’s been what, six months now since Lula came to live with you?”
Three. It’s been three months since Lula came into our lives, went out the window and then returned safely again.
Adopting an adult dog is completely different from bringing a puppy into the family, I understood and expected that. What I didn’t expect was to see so much change in her character and personality as she, I guess, develops a greater sense of security and safety here with us with each passing day.
It’s easy to forget, but adapting to a new family, new home, new environment is a big challenge and change for a companion animal. Think about it, have you ever moved house? With or without your family? Was it easy-peasy or a wee bit stressful and uncomfortable? Maybe it was a whole range of feelings and confusing? It’s like that for adopted pets, but it’s impossible for the animal to understand what has happened.
At first Lula mostly ignored other dogs, and seemed to have little sense of play. Now she will (sometimes) seek out greetings and (usually to some degree) engage when greeted. And just sometimes, a couple times a week maybe, she will meet another dog she plays with, and it looks like she has fun! So I’ve revised my anti-social dog “label” to selectively social, and I’ll keep watching. Maybe another personality change will be revealed.
Generally in fact, more and more I see a waggy-tailed dog, which warms my heart enormously. I was prepared to love her however she was, but her personality was a bit stoic (perhaps, depressed) at first. She didn’t seem happy or at ease. But that is changing.
Lula has learned to ride in the basekt on the back of my bicycle, which opens up all sorts of nearby adventure options. As a regular practice we try to go to the beach and/or forest two times a week at least.
lula’s sea legs
It’s hard to tell yet whether Lula likes the beach and swimming in the sea. I don’t think she was familiar with it. Our first visit to the sea, it was a beautiful day, the beach not too crowded, the sea calm. She ran around with energy like I had never seen before from her. She splashed and played. We thought she liked it. But return trips she has seemed shy and uneasy. A few of those times the waves were bigger and the conditions not so pleasant. So it’s hard to know. But I wonder if that first visit her running around was stimulation overload, some fear, bit of excitement, but not entirely what I thought: joyous play.
After all, we too all know what it’s like to suddenly be in our discomfort zone but put on a good face, or follow “the script” in order not to “make waves”.
One more lesson from Lula’s dharma of dogs: go beneath the surface to see what is really going on. And remember, whether it’s the depths or the surface of the ocean, it’s all ocean. Acknowledge the fear and take the plunge. See what happens.