Gus was fast asleep when I got up.
It's always a good idea to encourage the traumatized to join support groups.
The walking wounded could also use all the help they can get--trauma is trauma.
Unfortunately, there are those who have reached the end of a long tortuous road.
Indeed, some are too far gone to seek help. Sadly, even CPR, the kiss-of-life, won't undo the damage.
No, not this one either.
Occasionally, it is time to give up hope. Sorry, my friend.
On days when I feel lonely, or sad, Gus always manages to raise a chuckle. When the bloody brain is being hard on me, he settles by my side, touching, sometimes resting his head on my shoulder, his warm (and not too stinky) breath brushing against my cheek.
He wakes me up in the morning by cleaning my face. If I am still reluctant to get up, he talks to me. He whines and howls, and growls.
And if that doesn't work, he lays on my bladder, a tactic that never fails.
He loves to play, sometimes wrestling before we get up in the morning, or playing hide-and-seek under the covers in the evening. But he especially loves playing outside. Fetch and keep-away are his favorite games. He often tries to trick me into a game tug-of-war, tempting me by repeatedly pressing the squeaker in his toys.
On sunny days, he just enjoys lying in the sun. Like Ferdinand the bull, he's at peace. He lifts his nose to breathe in the aromas. He cocks his head and swivels his ears to listen to even the softest of sounds. He takes in the world around him with bright eyes. Every so often he gets up to investigate further, a bee buzzing among the flowers, a rabbit nibbling on the grass, a rustling in the bushes.
Every walk is an adventure. Especially when there are other dogs about. He pleads and barks and pulls. He wants to play. When the other dogs and owners are agreeable, life is good. If he had his way, he would play all day. But when I have to pull away, the pleading and crying go on for a good few minutes, until he becomes distracted by another dog, a pile of poop, a jogger, a bird, a puddle.
He has a particular fondness for puddles. He has a knack for finding them, and he has to walk through every single one, usually flopping down into them, no matter the outdoor temperature.
Snow days are a particular treat, a time to celebrate--chasing snow balls, digging for sticks in the snow, only breaking for a bout of excited pattern running.
He lives in the present. Bringing out the joy in the moment.
At first, Gus gave me the impression that he was very studious.
But then I started becoming suspicious--he seemed to be having a little too much fun when he came to class.
Gus seems to have the instincts. But on the other hand...
Actually, he just wants to play--if he corners his prey, he just stands there with his tail wagging.
When his prey is really sluggish, he eventually does go in for the kill.
After the first, I listen for the second, and the third. That’s the norm—three. I’ve never heard just two or one, I’ve heard four only twice, and I have never heard more. This time, when I heard the first, I was puzzled. It was shorter than usual, and the second didn’t come. I looked behind me. Nope, the crossing was far, too far for the train to be whistling.
Walking along the railroad tracks with Gus is always an adventure, there’s always something new to investigate, not just new smells for Gus, but also new things for me. A rabbit hopping ahead of us, not jumping into the bushes bordering the path. A beaver on his way down to the creek, a blue jay landing and taking off. A flower I’ve never seen before. Trees changing with the seasons.
There’s always something new.
This time, it was the train. Well, not the train, but its horn. Gus paused, and looked back at me. Was he also puzzled? Or just anxious because of the loud noise?
I looked up at the locomotive, then glanced around me. Was the engineer waving at me? I’d never been tooted at by a train. By a truck, yes, when I was young. But never by a train.
He was waving and smiling. I grinned back at him as I waved.
Wait! Was that his version of a wolf-whistle? I looked down at my camo pants and thought of my gray hair. Nope. Not a wolf whistle.
I smiled at Gus and shrugged—
And realized that he was waving at Gus. Perhaps us. No, it must have been Gus. Or us.
Gus trotted on. And I followed, beaming—I’d never been whistled at by a train.
I wind up and let it go. As it starts its flight across the room, Gus gallops over, his tail streaming behind him like a banner, with me chasing him at a jog. He rushes to snag the stuffed toy raccoon with his teeth, waits for me to catch up, then turns and runs back towards the dining room, every so often turning to make sure I’m still following him.
When he reaches the dining room he gives me one more smile, then trots off into the kitchen. I catch up and clumsily grab at the toy. He turns, tail wagging, and runs back into the dining room, where he waits for me to begin the next phase in the game—tug of war.
On my first try at grabbing for the toy, he pretends to be fierce—holding on for dear life. When I give up and let go, he drops it at my feet and places a foot on it. As soon as I make a move towards it he snatches it up, but when I take hold of it, he lets me drag it out of his mouth, so that I can throw it for him, once again.
We keep it up until either I start flagging and stop cooperating, or he gets bored and lies on the floor to chew on it.
Whenever we play, we make up the rules as we go. We each catch on quickly as the rules change, usually within two demonstrations.
We’re both pretty smart.
At first I wasn't sure what he was doing.
Gus loves the water, but hates baths.