One year ago my best friend passed away. The last time I walked through these woods, I was with Maisie and Annie and she and I had just finished a phone call. I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know that I would never see or talk to her again. I haven’t been back to these woods since then because they remind me of her.
Today I went back. It was time to see this beautiful place again. This time with Maisie, Annie and Winn. My daughter also came with me and as we walked I was able to breathe the air, smell the leaves and think of my friend and enjoy this place once again.
I’m so thankful for this transformation in my heart. The passage of time helps, but being with my three dogs and my lovely daughter made it easier to venture in and embrace the natural beauty that surrounded us.
Enjoy other pictures of transformation here.
When Annie came home, she didn’t like doors, narrow hallways and small spaces. Over the past year she has overcome so many fears and she now walks freely through the house. She goes through doorways and hallways without hesitation but there was still one last threshold that she wouldn’t cross…my bathroom.
This is the same bathroom that Maisie has locked herself in, multiple times and maybe that contributes to her reticence. The first time Maisie did this Annie alerted me in the most fantastic way. I was recently out-of-town for a few weeks and my husband came home a couple of times to Annie barking at him and then looking at the stairs with an expression that said “she’s done it again”, leaving him to go upstairs and release Maisie from her trap.
The other day I was brushing my teeth and Maisie was right at my feet. I glanced over and saw Annie standing in the door way watching me and when I started talking to her she leaned in closer like she wanted to come in but was still unsure. I took a gamble and grabbed a bag of treats and went back in the bathroom. Annie loves treats and she immediately knew what I had in my hand. Gradually she approached me, getting a treat with each step until she was completely in the room. We stayed there for a few minutes and then she turned around and skittered out.
We’ve done this a couple of times and each time she comes in with less hesitation. I don’t really like the dogs in the bathroom with me, it’s a tight squeeze and sometimes it’s just really nice to have some privacy, but Annie not wanting to come in because of fear was a different thing. It’s just like the kitchen, I didn’t like having dogs underfoot until Annie wouldn’t come in, then it just seemed wrong to not have to lunge over a big body while moving about. I want them to be free to make their choice about joining me, and then leave the room when I ask.
Yesterday while taking my shower, I left the door open in hopes that Annie might come in. I sensed her standing in the doorway and then I caught a glimpse of her walking all of the way in and sniffing around the sink, looking for that bag of treats. She left and then returned a few minutes later and started barking at me to come out. Was she ordering me to give her a treat? I chose to ingnore the barking and she turned back around and plopped down outside the door and waited there for me. That’s so Annie, wanting to do something in her own time, with no one watching. It reminded me of when she was figuring out the stairs and the unknown frontier of the second floor. I’m still amazed that Annie continues to make progress with us when she’s been with us for over a year. This sweet, old girl deserves to be free of her past, and as long as she is willing, we will continue to navigate her path together.
A new horizon for Annie this year is learning to love winter. 2 years ago Annie and 43 other Newfoundlands were surrendered to rescue at the peak of brutal winter conditions in the midwest. They were living outdoors with no heated shelter, no fresh water and minimal food. For Annie and the others, winter was something to be survived, snow was the only thing available to quench her thirst. She now has dry-eye which requires twice daily drops for the rest of her life as a result of being so dehydrated at the time of her rescue.
That first winter after her rescue, she learned to appreciate a warm place to sleep, fresh water, regular feedings and was exposed to kind, loving, constant attention for the first time. She had difficulty trusting that it would last and she protected herself from becoming too attached to this new place. Last winter we adopted her and that transition was very difficult for her. She was taken from the only nice place she had known and was terrified about what that would mean for her future. It was cold and snowy when we brought her home and she didn’t like going outside. She hated going outside after dark and I would walk along beside her in our yard while she searched for a place to go potty. I think she feared she would be left outside again and always ran quickly to the door once her business was done.
Typically when the temperature drops the energy level of a Newfie spikes. Maisie has always loved the snow and we have a hard time getting her to come inside. She loves to run in it, stick her nose in it and lie in it. After the first snowfall this year, Annie actually showed a little excitement. She is now confident in her home with us and no longer has to worry about surviving the winter! She doesn’t play with Maisie very often and she usually makes efforts to get away from her as quickly as possible. This week we got a few inches of snow and for the first time ever, Annie initiated play with Maisie. She was actually running and jumping in the snow! Her new horizon is loving winter, loving life!