Lady, my sweet Lady

5-7-12 ipad photo-11

Lady, my sweet Lady, struck a chord it seems.

As I write, the little lady herself is stretched out under my computer station — not quite underfoot, but almost. For six days we have been learning to live together — Lady, “the Big Guy” and me.

We are learning to fetch. A streak of black, she flies over the grass in pursuit. Sometimes she catches the ball in the air! Then she takes a couple of laps around the yard, drops the ball in the grass, drops on top of it and rolls back and forth over it, wiggling, kicking, writhing in joyous abandon. Ecstasy in motion! Then, rolling onto her belly, she lies there panting, the ball between her outstretched forelegs.

I approach, treat in hand. She eyes me warily. Will she take the treat and let me have the ball for yet another toss? Or will she snatch it away just as I reach for it, pivot and race away, tail flying? We’ve had it both ways. Lots of treats have been her reward for giving it up to pursue anew. My reward over six days, a sore shoulder — all in a good cause. She now knows that if she gives up the ball she will reap double rewards — a treat AND another romp after the ball.

Walking is still a contest of wills. “We” are in training. I keep her on a close lead. She persists in pulling a half step further ahead than I want her to. When she finely lets the lead relax and walks as I am willing her to, I praise her. She is “getting it” but then she forgets and lapses back into that slight but persistent pull.

But I shall persevere.

Blessedly, she is crate trained and goes willingly to bed at the end of the day. She’s loveable. She’s smart. She is truly a joy! She is a one-year-old black Lab. And she is a rescue.

Lady, my sweet Lady

Day One: Lady

April 2011, I wrote the following in my monthly online newsletter, Taking Flight.

My dog Willa is a “Rescue.” And though she’s lived a life I know nothing of — fear and deprivation, running wild — we are kindred souls. We both need a safe place when storms rage, but relish our freedom to explore.

I see my soul reflected in her brown eyes. Does she see hers reflected in my blue ones?

She backs away from strangers. I affect an open, gregarious persona though, like Willa, I would rather retreat to my safe shell.

When I met her five years ago, the people at Greater Dayton Lab Rescue said she “chose” me. She leaned in my direction, as if asking me to look her way. I did. I was hooked!

I was her savior.  I took her away from the source of her physical fears. But I can’t erase the psychological cause of her scars. I can only give her love.

We have reversed roles. Now she is my savior. From her I get unconditional love. I feed her body. She feeds my soul.

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Today is May 6, 2012. A month ago, April 6, we put our beloved “mostly” Lab Willa down. An incurable tumor of the liver ate away at her body and sapped her energy, though we treated her for it. Finally that and the Lab curse, hip dysplasia, overcame her. It was time to let her go. The hardest thing I ever had to do.

I managed a month, crying every time I went walking without her. With niggling fear and tentative anticipation, once again I looked at the online list of Lab rescues with Greater Dayton Lab Rescue. There I found one-year-old black Lab Sara. She looked and sounded perfect — given that we’d have to change my name or hers. She got the nod.

We met today. I call her Lady. I have her for a one-week trial. We have spent the evening bonding. She lay at my feet while I sat here at the computer and looked at email, finding it hard to concentrate because she was so sweet and quiet I kept having to look at her. I’m in love again.

On our first walk this evening she began to meet the neighborhood who knew Willa. They welcomed her with love and affection and comments as to how pretty she is.

She is now nestled in her cage. I spoke the word “kennel” and miraculously, she went in and lay down. I almost cried.

Day one with Lady is almost over. I’ll post again as we learn to walk, live and love together. Oh yes, my husband — known to Willa and now Lady as “The Big Guy” — too is in love!