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Wild

Wild

When I was a little girl, my papaw (grandfather) won a hat for me at the fair, bubblegum pink lips airbrushed on top of bright teal bricks with the word Hot Lips. I loved that hat so much that my mom found material with neon pink lips all over it and made me a dress to match. Too young to even know the meaning of “hot lips,” I declared to all my friends that was my new nickname.

That’s one of the things that drew me to Mabel, her wild, playful side. When I work out, I give Mabel a bone, and when she finishes it before I’m done exercising, she likes to bulldoze me with her head, then wiggle-shimmy-wiggle-squirm under me before she decides to play bite my ponytail.

While hilarious, I don’t want to encourage tugging on my hair, so we invented a game of fetch-the-squeaky ball when I’m on my mat. I’m learning to balance on one leg while tossing a ball, and she’s now sometimes lying sweetly by my side while I’m doing planks, squeaking away.

The getting-to-know-Mabel process has been fun, heart-filled, and sometimes a little stressful, as she’s shown some signs of anxiety. We had a big reverse sneezing episode on Monday that I thought and hoped was just a response to a little leash pulling at the end of her walk. When it started again on Tuesday morning and was more frequent, I worried it could be something big like a heart condition, a potential diagnosis the vet who gave her the last flu shot as he walked out the door, saying, “Or, it could just be stress from being here.” 

So, we canceled daycare as I didn’t want to get other dogs sick if Mabel’s reverse sneezing was anything contagious. Fortunately, it turned out to be allergies. And, I finally have the veterinarian I wanted when I switched hospitals last summer after our previous clinic lost a biopsy of my sweetest-boy-who-had-cancer-too-many times, Gavin.

Mabel shares Gavin’s sweet, smushy nature. One of her nicknames is Baby Goo because she oozes into anyone for snuggling and petting and adores her belly rubs. She makes me think of that loved-to-give-love little girl, Hot Lips, who shared her family’s fondness for rescuing animals.

You name it. We had it, a finch (I think?) whose mother abandoned it, and chinchillas because one of my siblings read their fur wasn’t valuable once a human touched it, a golden retriever who a friend of a friend of a friend of my parents didn’t want, and many more.

Giving love to animals changes you in the most beautiful ways. I’m already grateful for the lessons Mabel’s teaching me, to listen and view new behavioral discoveries as information, not stressors for myself. I know and trust that I’ll break things down when she needs it, soothe her when she’s uneasy, and never knowingly add to her discomfort.

Four days without daycare, Mabel’s nickname Wednesday night was little sh*& (with loving laughter, of course). She peed in the house, which she’s never done. Mabel was into everything, which wasn’t like her. And, man, my wild girl was jumpy and nippy despite lots of enrichment and play.

However, it reminded me again of how Mabel’s helping me reconnect to that sweet wild girl I once was. The one who inhaled her Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries cereal, then heartily hopped on her Huffy Pink Thunder bike and enthusiastically raced up and down the hills all day with the neighborhood kids. 

Mabel was back at daycare yesterday, and looking at the pictures they send every night, it’s still her happiest place in the world. I’m so glad to give that to her. We wild girls will figure out the rest together.

May your day and weekend be filled with a wild love for yourself and those sweet beings you cherish most.

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