Raising a Soul

Crispy morning air held my nose is a suspended drooling faucet drip this morning on my walk with Zuke. A smile cracks across my face when it’s just the two of us, we don’t share this time together much the same anymore, but we like it.

He is always searching the tall grass for the slightest indication that something he can chase is lurking, taunting him. Springing from a stopped position, the boy’s hind quarters are stronger than my thighs, he leaps into the four foot tall like a jack rabbit. It’s rare not to witness a smile on his little face.

Bliss.

The warm feeling of gratitude and awe takes over me as he dazzles me without ever knowing it; it’s his light steps, how he practically dances when he walks. I have fallen deeper in love with you than I thought imaginable….

I have always held a strong opinion against ever having children, it’s honestly the pregnancy side of things that terrifies me, oh and potentially raising a serial killer, as my college friend Courtney said spot-on in her recent post (she’s preggers with her first).

This morning I was brushed by this acknowledgement that my dog had become more than just an animal in my life. I can see his reactionary facial expressions with my eyes closed, I can feel his personality through photographs, I feel connected to him, physically, emotionally, and mentally. This is my baby. The pain that swells in my heart at the thought of him becoming hurt or disconnected from me is practically unbearable; I see people that lose their beloved friend and I pray I never have to experience that prematurely with Zuke.

I raised Zuke to the best of my abilities (and time…) having always worked a 9-5 job since adopting him; it was the most terrifying experience to suddenly be hit with the reality that I would be raising this dog alone. I had a partner who “helped” raise our first dog, Shadow, and honestly just having a second body to rely on was the biggest asset. So when it hit me, I knew I was ready but I was also in panic mode. See, I had purchased Zuke’s crate almost a month before I got him, I let it sit in my room as if a dog was meant to be there, just to test myself for how ready I thought I was. My housemates were actually the ones who kept saying “when are you bringing home a puppy!?”

Positive reinforcement was key to me, I even had the name “Milo” picked out for Zuke before I realized how much it also sounded like “no” which I did not want to him to have that association. So far, it has gone a long way for us both, but it has also shown light onto where it hasn’t worked: my underwear and drywall. With him being a border collie, his is very in tune with his bad choices and overly apologetic when I come home before seeing the damage he has done. But that’s owning a dog for you, you’ll probably always have a little something to deal with…keeps our lives exciting right?

Zuke is voice trained as well, something that took a lot of time and patience, almost going over the handle bars of my bike when crossing a busy street, and practically getting hit a few different times by vehicles. I do not believe in leashes for a dog if they are not needed. At this point, as he approaches his year and half mark of age, he listens on the first drop of his name from my lips. He does lose and ear of listening when there is another dog around in the sense that he gives me pleading looks of “oh mom but please can’t I just go meet them”…..No. He also responds to the snap of fingers and stops dead in his tracks if you administer a loud clap…all in all, well worth the time, effort, and mishaps along the way. We are able to cross busy streets with vocal and visual commands and despite feeling like we’ve made it, he still has a lot to learn.

Zuke is a year and a half this October 20th; we just had our one year adopt-iversarry on September 9th upon which I was slightly shocked that a year had flown by the way that it did. He has honestly put up with so much of my instability. Days that I rationed his dry food by adding water to it because I was waiting on a paycheck to come through to buy more; begging my parents to buy him a Bark Box subscription because I couldn’t afford to give him anything extra or nice like I wanted to (lord, you guys saved me so much with that….). The countless days spent in the closeness of my Outback, traveling for hours upon hours to a new home, never quite understanding if this move was permanent or temporary.

Of all the rambling that I just did about a damn dog, I’ll close with this. Don’t let someone tell you that you should adopt instead of choose a dog, or vice versa. Although I am a huge supporter of #AdoptDontShop, it’s important to understand that just because your dog does not originate from an animal shelter, it doesn’t make you less of a dog owner. What matter is the love you provide, the warmth, the security. The only thing that should be most important is in regards to how good a life you are going to give a soul. I have seen plenty of owners who do not deserve their dogs’ life yet I encourage everyone to think about owning one, one day. They bring you so much joy and chaos all in one bundle. There is nothing better than waking up to dog kisses when your alarm goes off…..