This morning I found him lying quietly on our back patio, serenely gazing out across the back pasture as the sun just started giving the day a good-morning kiss. Two of our other young dogs were out in the dog yard engaged in a rowdy play session, but dear Big-Bad wasn’t quite up to joining in the chase just yet.
One of the remaining injuries from his past life are sore spots on the main pad of each of his large paws. It could be wear from walking a good distance; I suspect it is also the result of traveling on hot pavement. Whatever the cause, his paws are still sore and though his teen-wolf brain is starting to feel the urge to jump into the middle of all the play, his aching feet still have him sidelined.
That’s going to change. We had our first hiccup of change yesterday.
While at work, my phone chimed and this text came through from Jim…who was currently serving as the zookeeper. Ah the joys and challenges of the home office.
Now I will admit to you that at first glance, I thought that the couch had been chewed up. On closer inspection, I realized that no, it had just been redecorated. With mud. Lots, and lots of mud.
Laughter. The kind of laughter that inspired the text shorthand “LOL.” The kind of laughter that made people around me smile and say, “What? What?”
My celebration was twofold.
- Big-Bad was obviously starting to feel better. MUCH better.
- I wasn’t the one at home cleaning the couch.
And you know, had that been a chewed couch instead of a mud-streaked couch, I would have still laughed…perhaps with a few tears of remorse mixed in…but I would have taken it in stride. That’s what you do when you are crazy dog people. You take stuff in stride, you learn from each “mistake,” and you teach. Note the word “teach.” It’s my new dog training soapbox. You TEACH, you don’t correct. There’s a huge difference and I have a feeling I’m going to talk about it a lot as Big-Bad teaches us about life with a wolf-dog and we teach Big-Bad how to fit into life at Tails You Win Farm.
I think, judging from Big-Bad’s initial example of creative expression in the couch painting category, that we will all be great teachers, and good-natured students.
Note to Big-Bad…Is that all you’ve got? (It’s possible I’m going to live to regret that challenge) This couch-painting thing is not new for us. It’s why we have a Craigslist leather couch. Your new housemates are MASTERS of mud and mayhem. I’ve even seen looks of respect on your face as you inspect some of their finer work in the yard.
Now I know that was just your fledgling contribution to the dog-wear-and-tear that is part of the charm of our home. Yes…charm. As you gain weight and become healthy, I know you will also gain energy, and stamina, and a greater creative flare. And that’s ok. We’ll be here watching (hopefully!) to guide your efforts in a productive direction.
Or we’ll be here to laugh whatever off. We’re really good at that too.
Oh, and for those following along, the update on the name-game. You notice I still refer to him as Big-Bad and that likely leads you to conclude that we are still undecided on a final handle for this guy. You would be absolutely correct.
Jim has suggested Akela…after the lone wolf in The Jungle Book. A good name to be sure, but to me, it’s a bit like naming a Dalmatian Pongo or Perdita, you know? Plus, since Spanish was the language I learned (on the path to a Bachelor of Arts vs a Bachelor of Science that would have required math and beyond…NOT my thing), my brain is stuck on the Spanish rule that things ending in “o” are masculine and things ending in “a” are feminine. I can’t shake it. I’m sorry. And Big-Bad is anything but feminine.
Jim is mulling other names and my veto power is on shaky ground. I have submitted Malachi for consideration. It means “my messenger” and I think Big-Bad is just that. Our messenger. I’m just not 100% sure what the message is yet, but I’m listening.
This beautiful, now-frail, but soon-to-be strong animal is the perfect combination of two things we hold very dear: dogs and wildlife. Maybe Big-Bad is here to remind us that we have to treasure, respect, and protect the worlds on both sides of our fence.
Or maybe he’s here to tell us it’s time to redecorate.
He’s right on all counts. The story continues…