I have noticed some subtle changes in Ty lately. It is now June 13, 2015. We’ve been together almost three months. One quarter of a year. (I feel almost like a little child measuring my age in the smallest increments!) Seriously though, Ty has been giving me more nudges with his nose, especially when I am in the kitchen, which doubles as his Cave of Comfort. I suspect he is trying to express himself, or test something out for himself. The problem is, I don’t speak his language. And he has limited exposure to the human vocabulary.
Up until this point, I have fed him right in the safety of his cave, offering his bowl where he didn’t have to move out of his desired area for it. The last few days, however, I have slowly started spreading the kibble pieces along the floor in a trail leading out of the cave. So far, he cautiously follows the trail, eagerly taking the bites and returning post haste back home once he sees he has reached the end of the trail.
My plan is to continue more of this and extend the trail he must cover.
Running errands, I stopped by the vet to pick up some things. A well-behaved hound was waiting with her owner for their turn. The hound was worried, casting anxious glances to her owner. The woman spoke reassuringly to her dog, which pacified her for a few moments and she’d wag her tail in response. Fascinated, I watched this exchange repeat itself. Leaving, I felt a sense of sorrow. Ty and I don’t have that relationship yet. I think one day we will, and in the meantime I can use events like this as a measuring tool to see where we are at.
Right now, we are doing okay. I have also heard another of the Baseball Team that Ty came into the rescue with also likes to be inside the house. What a nice change from their humble beginnings.
June 18, 2015 started out pretty normal. Right after my shower, before my coffee, Ty and I went for our first walk. It has been storming off and on during the last few evenings so maybe that had a part in what happened next. Or maybe not. I don’t know.
I paused to slip into my shoes and took that first step off the porch. Ty, at my side, suddenly and literally bolted as if shot from a cannon. He flew off the porch, me in tow still holding the leash and toes barely into the shoes.
He hit the concrete sidewalk and spun like a bucking bull at a rodeo. I spun in matching fashion, trying to keep up with him and not to lose him. The ceramic rabbit that had been on the porch since before his arrival went flying across the concrete, shattering noisily as only ceramic on concrete can do. That sickening sound.
Stunned and bewildered, I whirled on Ty. He stopped spinning. I leaned forward, demanding to know “What is wrong with you?” Now, admittedly, as the words tumbled from my lips I knew they would be too harsh for Ty. Most dogs would scarcely notice my irritation, but Ty noticed.
He sank to his belly, trying his best to sink into the concrete, head down, eyes averted, breath coming in anxious pants, clearly waiting for the worse.
Whoa! Talk about a reality check. I’ve seen terrified plenty of times, in lots of animals and people. And each time it breaks my heart. I knelt down to him, talking in the most reassuring, loving, soft tone I could manage. The lump in my throat made it kind of hard. I pet and praised him, trying to ignore he’d already released some bowel matter in preparation of the beating he knew was coming.
It took some anxious and long minutes before I could convince Ty to get up and to resume our walk. He completed his business and we moved to the fenced yard. I left him alone to go clean up what bits of broken rabbit I could before I had to lead him past the evidence. He watched me from the gate, visibly anxious.
Getting a secure grip on his leash, we returned to the porch. He panted, eyes wide, his breath heavy and ears back, tail down, body tense. I bet he saw invisible monsters waiting to jump from the bushes to snatch us. But we made it inside unscathed (well, more or less) and I offered him breakfast.
He could barely eat for his nervousness. Finally, after three attempts, he finished his meal and half a cookie treat. A couple of hours later I decided to take him for another walk. He did not bolt this time, but he was giving every sign of being stressed. Walks are supposed to be fun! Not this time.
We returned to the fenced yard where I stayed and let him wander. He paced around, tail down, eyes wide, panting and drooling. He never took his eyes off me as I walked around with my hands in my pockets and my heart in my throat. Having enough, we soon came back inside. He returned to his cave of comfort and I went to the study to get some work done. About half an hour later, I finally heard my silent collie make his first noise.
It was that yelping whine dogs make sometimes when they’re dreaming. Like if they’re chasing something. Hoping it wasn’t a nightmare, considering his past and our rough morning, I went to him. Knowing his history, it was kind of doubtful he was dreaming of running along grassy fields in pursuit of happy pleasures. So thinking he might be having a nightmare brought on by our frazzled morning, I went to him.
He’d worked himself tight into the corner of his cave. Calling his name softly, he brought his head up from along the wall and gave me a low growl. No teeth bared, but a clear growl of warning nonetheless.