Magic Carpet Ride
This is a post about redemption and courage, it is about a dog who never gives up. Three years and seven months I have had Tristan in my home. We have gone from the worst of times which included him shutting down completely out of fear, the shaking, the moments of losing control of his bladder and bowels when I simply attempted to touch him, the destruction from anxiety (some of my woodworking is very unique, one of a kind Tristan designed and I would not change it for the world!) the first year I carried him outside several times a day because he was too scared to take the steps himself, now I experience the joy of watching him play with Tully, seeing him slowly learn that visitors that come here are friends and at their hands he finds treats and scratches not hits, punches or burning cigarettes to harm him. Seeing him be the first one to bolt out the back door to roam in the safe haven of his back yard is something to behold and moments I cherish. He still struggles, and I know he always will. There are things about him that fascinate me, how the fear can suddenly seep into his world and how he now has the tools to figure out how to get himself out of that dark space, because in the end even if his past demons try to convince him otherwise he bravely moves forward.
Tristan is very aware of his surroundings at all times, he will not walk in front of me, always behind. He will not go into rooms where he could be trapped inside. He made huge strides this summer in finally going behind the outside patio table and chairs (a space that for years he would barely venture to come near) where there is nothing but a wood fence behind him, another words his is trapped. It sounds bizarre and something most dogs could care less about but for him that was an extraordinary step forward. The kitchen is one of his favorite rooms in the house, the boy likes to eat but he will only go in the kitchen two ways, if I am letting the dogs outside through the backdoor which is in the kitchen or if he is eating, which means I am sitting in the t.v room kitty corner from the kitchen. He will get a mouthful of food and walk back to the entrance of the kitchen to make sure I am still sitting in the chair. He likes to watch me cook, but does so from the dinning room, close by but not in the kitchen. I do a lot of my writing, both for the blog and some fiction writing I have been doing at the dinning room table, he will go into the tv room but never has gone past me into the kitchen while I am in the dining room. I was totally engaged in my writing, when I heard a noise in the kitchen, big slurping. Slurping from the water bowl that was not a schnauzer slurp and certainly not a cat slurp, I smile at what I know has happened. I ignore it completely, I watch from the corner of my eye as he walks from the kitchen into the tv room and jumps on the couch finding the perfect spot next to Tully. I do not look up, but I softly speak the words “Good boy, Tristan. What a brave, brave boy.” I hear the familiar thud of his tail and I can’t help it the tears appear, he is inspiring beyond words. About 20 minuets later he went back into the kitchen, this time and I managed to snap a picture.
Fast forward to last weekend. As you can see I have hardwood floors, when Tristan jumps off the couch in the tv room his legs are flailing all over the place, so I thought I would get a rug…so I did. I got a nice area rug that was big enough to fit under the couch so it would be very sturdy and easier for Tristan coming off the couch. I sometimes still forget change in any way is hard for him , even something as simple as a rug. It took him about two days to put his paw on it, then eventually two paws, and finally he took the plunge and jumped on the couch. It was awesome and amazing, I praised him and he wiggled and wagged his tail like his was king of the world (which by the way he is.) Then he had to get down. It did not go well. At all. I could see the wheels turning, him trying to figure it out and I have had him long enough to know he has to do it himself. So I waited and for three hours….
He just could not make himself get the other two feet off the couch, he tried and I could see him desperately trying to make himself take the chance. Part of me wanted to lift him off, but I knew I could not do it for him, I had faith he would figure it out.
Now if anyone doubts that dogs are in not in tune, not in the know of what is going on, just look at this picture. Tully tried relentlessly to help him, jumping on and off the couch to show him it was fine, nothing would happen. Finally Tully just laid down and waited there with him, he too knew Tristan would have to figure it out himself. And he did, about 20 minuets later with a giant leap of his back legs and a whole of faith Tristan found himself on the carpet as I clapped from the dining room and the schnauzers ran around like crazy. Everyone got treats and there was no looking back from there, he now does not hesitate one bit to jump on and off the couch with the carpet underneath his sweet paws. A lesson yet again that the journey is rarely about arriving at the place you land but much more about the steps it took to get you there.