How do you pinpoint the moment you know you’ve finally found the right dog to add to your family? How do you pinpoint the exact moment you knew? The moment you fell inexorably in love? Perhaps it was one of these – or all of these – moments:
We walked through the kennel at the animal shelter, leading Alpha, the very nice dog we’d come to see, towards the outside door & the outside dog yard. The cacophony of dog voices was overwhelming – 15 kennels on each side, each with either an adult dog or a litter of puppies, all screaming for our attention. Rhiannon was already out the door as I passed the kennel with the gold & red dog in it, and felt the tug at my soul, the one that said “Stop!” I motioned to her to come back, but she wasn’t coming back into that racket.
We returned Alpha at 4pm, the shelter’s closing time, and I followed the tug to the gold-red dog, whose shelter name was Maverick. I knelt in front of his kennel door, and brown eyes looked into brown eyes. He licked my face energetically, then proceeded to throw himself at the door, trying to sit in my lap, jump into my arms, despite the chain link that separated us. He rubbed his body so hard against the wire mesh that shedding fur billowed out in a cloud.
Rhiannon looked on, and asked me, “Is he The One?” I struggled to answer. How could I know, so soon?
But I had almost tried, without thinking about it, in those few moments, to lean my forehead down to his giant chestnut head, to touch my forehead to his, in a greeting known throughout the world: Namaste, the Divine Being in me sees & recognizes the Divine Being in you. Shunka was the only dog I’d ever done that with, and Manitou the wolf-dog before him.
There were many dogs there, all dogs who deserve a good home, a family to love them. But this one dog, he caused me to feel a tug at my soul, at my heart, that I hadn’t felt for any of the others. Not for Loki; not for Keegan.
We had to leave him, after ten minutes of stolen time. The shelter was closed. It was also full – at or over capacity, I learned that night, through Facebook. Our quick decision on Maverick or Alpha could save a dog’s life. I put in a pre-application through their website that night.
We spent time discussing Alpha & Maverick. Well, the discussion of Alpha was short. He’s a nice dog, but not for us. Maverick was not at all what I had expected, or, where I had expected, to feel the soul-tug. A Rottweiler mix of some kind, with the shape of a Rottie, but a glorious chestnut & golden coat, with black guard hairs on his back. And no tail – it appears, like most Rotties, that he was born without one. Silky-soft floppy ears completed the Rottie look.
I wanted a dog that was medium sized, with prick ears, and it would never occur to me to even look at a dog without a tail. I’m all about canine body language, after years living with wolf-dogs. And a male dog – the bonds of a woman with a male dog, and a man with a female dog, are just different from the bonds of same-sex canine/human. There is no need for instinctual canine sex-related dominance issues, so they can be equal partners. (You must remember, my spirit-shape is a wolf, and I often think like one!)
Rhiannon wanted a large dog with floppy ears, a soft coat with lots of fur. She liked Alpha, but rationally knew his energy level was too high for us. She loved Maverick, too, who had spared a few moments of time to gaze into her eyes & give her doggie-kisses. Rhiannon had felt the tug, as well.
We were back the next day. We took Maverick out to the dog yard, and watched, played, and petted him for an hour. We were also liberally covered with doggie-kisses. But we also did things gauged at testing his temperament.
He was having his belly rubbed, when I picked up one foot, to see if he was used to having them handled. He yanked it away, and my hand was on his neck instantly, a low growl rising in my throat. I’d done this with many wolf-dogs, and wolf-dogs only speak wolf – canine signals are all they understand. This was an alpha-roll, establishing my place as dominant over him. I could only use one hand, because of my torn shoulder, but I only needed one. He struggled momentarily, my fingers, acting as surrogate teeth, digging into his neck, while the growl filled my throat. It took only a few moments before his instinct kicked in, and he went limp. Test passed with flying colors.
A few minutes later, I was sitting in the grass, when he approached & gently took my chin & bottom jaw in his massive mouth. My heart melted. Rhiannon watched with wide eyes. It is a wolf thing, the acknowledgement of the dominant, or alpha, member of the pack. Some dogs never do it. Shunka never did, though he was very willing to offer kisses. Kasha will barely even offer a quick lick.
The last time I felt canine teeth close gently on my bottom jaw in respect was when Manitou did it. Manitou was one of my wolf-dogs, my soul-mate, and long gone from Earth. But it was Manitou I had dreamed of all night long.
If there was any doubt left in my mind, that this big, golden chestnut Rottie-mix was meant to be with us, it was soon dispelled, as I put it to the ultimate test.
The shelter has horses, and the dog yard sits in a corner of the horse pasture. Rhiannon walked over to see them, and was pleased when Maverick trotted along beside her to go see them closer. I sat on the lone chair, and did what I was most afraid to do: I opened my heart, or heart-chakra, fully.
There used to be a time when I could – and would – open my heart, open my soul, and reach out and touch an animal’s soul. I loved doing it when riding my beloved horse, Cherokee, dropping the reins, riding bareback, horse & rider becoming one being, if only for a few minutes. I loved doing it with aggressive guard dogs, quieting their growls & barks with a touch of my soul, and walking up to them, usually staked out on a short chain, to be greeted with kisses, while their owners stood by, slack-jawed with bewilderment. They often were abused, and rarely loved, and I lavished them with love as long as I could. It is my Gift.
But somewhere along the way, between the abusive marriage & divorce, the chronic illness, I stopped trusting myself, and my Gift. I closed up my heart except for a chosen few.
Now I sat under a tree, and opened my heart & soul wide, and took in the world around me. I felt Rhiannon’s bright spirit, with Maverick beside her, though they were behind me a good ways, and my eyes closed. I felt the manic energy of the dogs & cats in the shelter. The horses. And then I called out, with my soul. I felt Maverick turn his attention from the horses & Rhiannon, felt him head my way. I followed his path with the eyes of my soul. And then he was there, his head under my hand as Rhiannon would tell me his head had been under her hand.
Rhiannon came back & I shared the experience with her. Her eyes swam with tears. Yes, was the answer, he is The One. A warm, peaceful, serenity filled us both.
I know it will not be effortless. He will need to learn manners. But he passed his cat-aggression test, so at least we can feel that Dusty will likely be very safe. He hasn’t met Kasha yet, but in about 4 hours we will bring him home.
We found The One. After so many months of searching. Now to figure out his name…