Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The New Roommate

I really didn’t know what to expect. This had all been set up by my brother, Frank’s wife Clare. I had been over to their home for dinner about a month earlier and she asked me to consider it. I shared a few reservations with her through a couple of text messages and hadn’t heard any more about it. That is until about a week ago. And then on Friday, the day arrived.

I got home and left a message with Clare that I was there and I was ready to meet my new roommate whenever they wanted. They were in the middle of dinner and said they would be over in a little while. I enjoyed a light meal and sat in the recliner overlooking the bay reading until I heard the door bell ring.

When I opened the door, my brother was standing there with a little fur-ball in his arms. Clare introduced me to Suzie, a two-year old Terrier (mix) that belonged to her daughter, Mary and her husband, Adam. She took one look at me and started growling, followed by a few sharp barks. Frank put her down and she ran across the room and hid behind one of the large chairs, barking…and then running over behind another to continue her chorus of canine yelps.

Over the course of the next hour and a half, Suzie was coaxed to become more comfortable with me through the use of toys and treats. She was held so I could try to pet her…always to the response of growls and barks. It was obvious that there was no bonding occurring on the part of Suzie. As the time passed, it was finally time for everyone to leave. I was left with numerous words of encouragement and as Mary and Adam gave their little puppy one last set of loves and hugs before they left for a three month trip to Africa, the door closed behind them and I was left alone with my new roommate.

Suzie immediately ran back across the room and continued with her barking and growling. I one of the soft chewy treats they had left to try to coax her into coming closer. She wasn’t buying it. Suzie continued her little dance behind the chair, always keeping it between me and her. I finally decided to give her some space and went into the bedroom to read. I would occasionally hear her bark and growl, and when I’d go check on her, she’d be laying on the couch but immediately jump down and hide behind a chair and growl and bark.

This little “dance” continued for about an hour and a half. I went out to check on her at about 10:30 PM, and was again greeted with the growls and barks. I knew I had to get the leash on her so I could put her out to go to the bathroom so I “herded” her toward the bedroom. As I closed the door, she jumped up on the bed and sat perched on the top of my pillow…staring and barking at me. As I approached, she jumped off the bed and went into the master bath. With the door closed and the two of us in about 10 square feet, I grabbed her and clipped the leash to her collar. When I opened the door back into the bedroom she used all 15 feet of the lead on the leash and ran under the bed where she anchored herself with her feet planted firmly into the carpet.

After about five minutes, I finally got enough leverage to pull her out and took her outside for a short walk and a chance to go to the bathroom. No more barking or fighting against me. She didn’t take care of business but simply explored the back yard a little. We went back into the house and when I let her off the leash, she once again ran to the living room and hid behind the recliner.

I went back to the bedroom and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to spend a sleepless night with Suzie barking and growling all night. I got her crate ready with food, water and her blanket and set it up in the room. I went back to the living room and she stayed on the couch when I approached. As I reached down to pick her up, I was greeted with growls, but she allowed me to take her into my arms. I took her to the bedroom and put her on the bed. She stayed there for a moment and looked at me and then walked around the bed exploring it. When I reached to pet her, she let me. I laid back down and read some more and she stayed on the end of the bed, watching me. I finally decided to see if she would stay on the bed so I got her blanket out of her crate and set it on the bed beside me. After a few minutes, she walked up and laid down and curled up. I got back into bed and spent the new few minutes softly petting her and simply loving her. No more growls. No more running away.

When she woke me in the morning with licks on my face and ears to let me know it was time for me to take her out for a walk, it was apparent that I had somehow passed the test. Suzie had a new roommate…and it was me.

Photos by Mark


Deb Shucka said...

So now I'm pissed at Blogger. I just left a long comment (and it was a good one) and they said, "Oops an error." Let me see if I can bring it back:

Reading Susie's story makes me anxious about how it might end. She's as cute as a dog can possibly be, and clearly has stolen your heart. If a vote is ever called, I vote that she become your forever dog. :-) I can hardly wait to meet her and make her love me, too.

Wander to the Wayside said...

Isn't that just the cutest little face! Imagine how scared she must have been at first, but good for her (and you)that she recovered relatively quickly. And I agree with Deb, it will be interesting to see what happens at the end of those three months when Susie is firmly entrenched in your heart! I'm thinking of Jack Nickolson in As Good as it Gets where he had to take care of that neighbors little dog...