Yogi chewed the entire corner off a wood window sill last week. It happened in the blink of an eye with no warning. I could have paid sharp attention right then, could have taken swift action to acknowledge the beast that was being unleashed in him, turning him from the sweet gentle puppy he had been up till then into this force of adolescent destruction. Next was a noticeable section of the oriental rug edge missing. Then the entire center of the new fleece pad I had just bought for his crate. And eventually, the large pillow I used to hide the damage he had done to the window, dragged to the the center of the room and de-stuffed in moments. Meanwhile, the digging became epic, with new holes appearing faster than I could fill them back in.
I know this is just a phase, that the adolescent dog is easily bored and full of energy. Especially in the morning, just when I want to be spending quiet reflective time. I need to be patient and creative and consistent with my attention, care, and training. More than the recall work we do in the woods together, no, I think I could be doing more right now to help him through this phase. But my ability to take clear action seems to be a week behind. I have a looming deadline on a project and have been otherwise distracted. I bought a large supply of bully sticks to satisfy during those coveted early morning hours, realizing that this is just a bandaid. I can feel a change coming.
Yesterday was the quintessential fall day. Blue sky and bright sun, color emerging everywhere, cool air and moist dark ground from a recent rain that let go of evocative mist as the day broke.
Beauty everywhere I looked.
The kind of day where anything is possible. After weeks now of working with Yogi, letting him off leash for spurts of free roaming with his sister, working on the trust that he will come when called as Nora does, I still feel angst when they are out of sight.
What if they don’t come back?
Their return to me is never instantaneous, never the exact moment I call. I know they hear me. And I have come to trust that they do come. Sometimes I just stand still and wait. Still my heart. Call out again to let them know I am here.
As we turned to enter the path toward the pond, at the same moment I breathed in the exquisite beauty of where we were,
I reached down and unleashed Yogi. It was time to let the adolescent have a longer dance. As we progressed deeper into the woods he darted and dashed and always came back. It was as if Beauty was his dancing companion, guiding him to be the full expression of his desire today. He ran to the pond and immersed himself in muck, covering himself in thick black goo.
He sniffed indefinitely at every fern that called him. He happily stayed close to Nora.
When it was time to put the leash on, he became a willing partner trotting contentedly next to me. We circled around the mountain and to the swamp on the other side and found the full expression of this gorgeous day.
Here was the Beauty to Yogi’s Beast. She’d had a good long dance with him. It would take a lot more work I know, for this beast to fully mature back into the gentle giant he was destined to be, and for the moment, everything felt exactly right.
That afternoon I went out and bought a bagful of new toys, and an even wider variety of treats. Training begins tomorrow.