As I rode my bike today, I was thinking about our Black Dog. I tried to think realistically about how my relationship with him evolved over the years. As a young dog, he was wild. Indeed, he was so wild that I had some trouble appreciating him. I wanted him to calm down. At the time, I didn't yet realize that his endless joy for life was what I'd end up loving the most about him.
Then, I started doing more things with him solo. I'd take him for little bike rides to enjoy the flowers or the leaves or the snow. During our outings, I'd do bits of training. Our bond started to grow.
Later on in his life, his elbow dysplasia got really bad. The vets said that all of the cartilage was gone from his elbow and the bones were banging together. There was only one kind of surgery that would help him. But, after a lot of research, I discovered that no one in our area did it. That discovery made my bond to him so obvious to me - I became doggedly determined to get him the surgery. I searched and searched, and I finally found a superb veterinary surgeon who was willing to fly to us and do the surgery. That filled my heart with hope.
After his surgery, the recovery exercises cemented our bond. We turned them into games - hilarious and fun games that both of us loved. That bit of fun time that we spent together every single day cemented our bond.
At that point, I had learned how to appreciate our Black Dog for who he was - an absolutely joyful soul - so joyful that he couldn't contain himself at times.
As I think about the evolution of our relationship, I know that it taught me to figure out who each of our dogs is and to try connect with each of their unique spirits. We have wildly divergent personalities in our current two dogs - but I've learned to love them both, mainly by finding things that bond me to them (and them to me).
Our Black Dog taught me that. I'm so glad that he and I found such a deep connection which taught me so much. Of course, that makes me miss him even more but it was so worth it.
Happy Black Dog Sunday.