I have learned not to expect anything when it comes to Tristan. If he stayed exactly as he is now I could not love him more and I am so proud of how brave he is everyday. It is hard to explain just how hard things are for him, those that have been around him have an idea of his struggles. Everyday simple things are taken for granted, things I certainly took for granted before he came into my world. I have often said the difference between the schnauzers and Tristan is that the schnauzers go through life assuming no one will hurt them, Tristan assumes the exact opposite. It is heartbreaking.
For the most part he will not let me cross in front of him nor will he walk in front of me. When he comes in from being outside I must come out of the back door step onto the back porch, step back and hold the door open facing away, if i try to just open the door from the inside he sits down in the yard looking up at me with a very, very clear “NOPE” on his sweet concerned face. When he goes into his crate (which he loves and often he and Tully hang out there with the door open) he smashes himself into the very back of the crate, fearing what will happen until the latch is closed. There is something about the latch, the click, something in the past unlocks his fear. After that he is fine and happy to chomp away on the Kong stuffed with frozen banana and peanut butter or a little wet food. We are days away from his one year anniversary of when he arrived in my life. He sleeps in his crate almost every night, he is comfortable with soft blankets, bed and his Kong and he rarely makes a peep until the morning when he makes it very clear he has to pee! He is welcome to sleep in my bedroom, but he is not comfortable yet with stairs and my back sucks and is not comfortable carrying a 65lbs dog up the stairs and back down every day, but we keep trying. Every weekend at least one night I leave his crate open and my bedroom door upstairs open and the schnauzers and I curl up in bed and wait. As I halfheartedly read a book or article in a magazine, I listen to him pace, I listen to him contemplate, struggle, and then I listen as he walks the path back to his crate and lies down. I have never used his crate as punishment, I have never slammed the door, never told him to go to his crate with anger in my voice. After one year that latch still holds the power over him, and while I gladly resigned to love him no matter what, I still very much believe he is far from finished when it comes to learning, growing, trusting and loving humans.
Tonight a breakthrough, a step, a sign that change comes in the smallest ways and a reminder to celebrate those small steps forward. He loves stretching out on the couch in the TV room, and cuddling with his life partner…Tully. Up until about a month or so ago, he would not tolerate me sitting on the couch at all while he was on the couch, he would bolt the second my bum assumed the position to make contact with the cushion. Then one day, I sat and he stayed. I ignored him completely, but Maggie jumped up next to me for some petting and attention. Then a few days later I sat, he stayed and he poked at me with his nose. (I like to call it the “bingo dauber”kiss) I did not look at him but petted him. Then soon after he let my foot touch his foot while we were both occupying the couch. Finally tonight I was on the couch and Tully jumped up and snuggled in, I didn’t think much about it and I was working on the computer and Tristan jumped up beside Tully and curled up next to him. I was watching the movie “Pretty Woman” and I put down my laptop and slowly laid down and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y…so slow that I could feel my back start to spasm from being in such an awkward position. Finally I rested my head on Tully and remained completely still. Tristan stretched and his paw landed on my forehead, he stayed and I stayed and in the most contorted, uncomfortable position you can imagine we were all on the couch a mismatched mess of uncomfortableness, but I could have cared less, my heart soared in the moment that he stayed. We did not move for a long time…like 40 minuets, until the end of the movie when I got up go get an Advil (my lower back hates me). Tully moved to the other side of the couch and Tristan lifted his head and thought about jumping down but in the end put his sweet head back down and stayed right where he was, and from the kitchen as I fiddled with the medicine bottle and poured a glass of cold water I could hear the bellows of his deep resonating snores.
This is a real life happy ending to movie night…