Saturday morning arrived, and I was so excited. I met was Stella-now-Mabel Tuesday night, and she seemed sweet and playful as she happily gobbled up the treats I took for her and her foster brother before leaning against me.
After her foster mom left, Mabel was nervous about the new sounds in a new environment with a new person. As I let Mabel tell me what she needed, I thought about our dogs, even those of us who are conscious of their emotional well-being and what they experience in our human world.
Within an hour, Mabel was belly up, snoring with me on the sofa. She’s been here for six days, and I’ve learned she’s the messiest eater ever. An hour after her dinner, she still had food on her jowls that ended on both my arms and legs. I’ve learned that Mabel’s terrified of egg cartons. I won’t offer her food in those again.
I’ve learned that Mabel’s a social cue-reading, self-regulating, play-style-matching daycare attendee on my long kitchen days. And she’s a snuggly, gassy bed hog who loves to play tug and chew on her bones.
According to Mabel’s foster mom, she was considerably chill in her crate, but I wanted to help her acclimate to her doggie den in her new environment. So, we started working on her crate as a super peaceful place. The first attempt could have been better. Mabel fussed a little bit, a teeny tiny whine, then stopped. But I instantly panicked. I thought, oh no, not separation anxiety. Can I do this again for a dog I just met?
What we often miss when we’re busy taking care of our dogs, nurturing them to health, and trying to ease their anxiety is that we also experience trauma and stress when they’re struggling. Then we move on with our lives, never tending to our emotions.
So, I made myself a cup of tea, snuggled with my girl, and went to bed early. The next day, I could see Mabel’s behavior in a new light, and when we worked on her crate again, she was content and calm, just as I attempted to be. Deep breaths, lots and lots of deep breaths.
In the short time, she’s been here, Mabel’s brought so much joy and love to my life. I already can’t imagine my world without her. My landlords are coming to meet her on Sunday before I finalize her adoption, and I can only guess they’ll say yes to the sweet formerly-known-as-Stella girl who somehow found her way to me.
May your day and weekend be filled with the love only dogs give.