I speak dog

It’s been almost two weeks since I came home and found Sunshine unable to stand and in the midst of some type of seizure. It’s been nearly two weeks since I had to put her to sleep.

It’s been almost one week since I acquired another dog, this one a 25-pound fluff ball that is allegedly a Australian Cattle Dog, a “blue heeler”. He’s currently dragging around a knot in his mouth and batting a lacrosse ball across the living floor with his paws. Multi-tasking, I guess.

I hadn’t meant to get a new dog quite so quickly. And I wasn’t sure if I should. But the puppy needed a home and I needed a dog, and well, sometimes that’s all it takes. His coat came in black and his tail looks like he dipped it in a bucket of white paint. He has tan paws and a grey speckled nose. Who knows what color he will be in six months. He’s soft and wicked smart. When we walk somewhere new, he puts himself in my footsteps (heeling, herding me) with his little ears cocked all serious, trying to keep track of his charge.

I need for you to understand how completely different this animal is than my Sunshine. But this season of my life, preparing for a wedding and to join lives with someone else, is totally different than the one I just left. Fitting, I guess, that Sunshine would take leave of me at this particular point.

This new dog, Helo (the Helo monster, Little Fluffybutt, Mr. Barky Pants), is our dog. We, the couple, A and me, had to have a series of conversations about whether I was getting a new dog before we get hitched, when we were getting hitched, what kind of dog was I going to get that was going to be allowed to live in the house, what did he want in a dog, what did I want in a dog, what were we going to feed it, who was going to be its vet, blah blah blah…Exhausting and totally foreign.

I haven’t had to ask someone about what I want to do in my personal life (other than my priest or out of politeness) for most of my years now. Totally strange to have to do it … I told my sister that some of those conversations were like Sunshine’s last gift to me, prompted by her death and the impact that her dog soul had on my life. Those conversations grew me, grew the relationship and I know I’m not any good at having them, or even thinking about having them.

I told my sister about how it seems God knows I speak dog, not in a wow-is-she-a-really-good-dog-trainer way, but in the way that I learn more from them, or find they prompt some strange spiritual work in me that may not get done othewise.

The Sunshine season of my life, as I outlined earlier, was a place where I carved out space for myself to rest and to trust, something made so much easier by her calm and easy way, her love of naps and the way she just was happy hanging out.

I’m not sure what the Helo season is going to look like, but it’s already busier and I’m spending less time on the couch. It’s going to be a season of more intention and conversation, of better planning and discipline and it is the first thing A and I have done together.

He’s given up on the lacrosse ball (thankfully) and is now gnawing on a rawhide A bought him. I wonder what he’ll teach me tomorrow.

P.S. I’m using the Monks of New Skete‘s methods to work with him (Orthodox dog…)


Author: Rebecca

Orthodox Christian. Journalist. SAR K9 handler. All three of those are deeply related.

2 thoughts on “I speak dog”

  1. Oh, Helo, look how far you’ve come….!

    Rebecca, you speak dog good. Trust yourself and trust Helo, he’ll see you through. That’s what Cattle Dogs do!

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