Up to this date, my past weekly appointments with Sheila often involved me recalling my prior week and the questions it brought to light (many) and the successes I experienced ( not many). Usually I was frustrated by my lack of motivation to do something. Anything. Read something. Discover something. Try something. And I would swear that by my next appointment I would do something that would please Sheila and really impress her.
I love Sheila’s counseling style. She makes soft, non – pushy suggestions. That works for me. A more aggressive Therapist would scare the crap out of me with their expectations. I would feel the impossibility of their plans for me. Sheila leaves me thinking, “Yeah? I could do that!” We still chuckle delightedly when we recall my initial sessions where she brought me literature about using a Therapy Dog. At the time I was so not ready for that step! I was still in my pre – dog days although I really liked CoCo. And boy do we laugh when I remind her of the session where we had a silent moment and she hopefully suggested, “You could adopt a dog….” then as if she did not notice that I pointedly ignored that advice, a few minutes late she doggedly followed up with, “You could foster a dog……”. I think it is safe to say that Sheila pretty much always saw a dog in my future! Wise, wise Woman.
But I wonder if she ever saw this coming.
Ca$h had been a part of our lives long enough for us to determine that he ran hot and cold in his day to day socializing with other dogs. We had begun using a nylon halter on him to afford us greater but humane control during his walks. He did not like the feel of the headgear but it was important to protect other dogs as well as himself.
And certain dogs certainly seemed to catch his interest more than others. Naturally, he was small – prey driven. Squirrels, rabbits, cats , groundhogs opossums and even some large birds appeared on his radar. And his actions left no doubt – he loved giving chase. Even seemed to truly take joy in it. But his definition of ‘small prey’ bleeds over to include small dogs. And why stop with small dogs? Ca$h felt it was equally his due to warn medium, large and gigantic dogs of his dominance. With heavy hearts, the careful and closely – monitored occasional nose sniffs became more and more rare until allowing these attempts at socialization were stopped altogether because of his extreme unpredictability. We had tried the careful off – leash romp with non – aggressive types in an enclosed dog park. Those visits were stopped as well due to violent episodes on his part. Seeing him realize that he could play normally with other dogs and watching it happen in front of me made my heart sing. He would play until he dropped from exhaustion. But as more time went by, the least indication of aggression on anyone’s part turned a good time into a dangerous argument at best and a bloodbath at its worst. Before long, absolutely no sign of aggression at all from his playmate escalated immediately into the worst case scenario.
I had known when I adopted Ca$h, that there existed the likely possibility that he would be an only child. I was ready to be his Best Playmate and his Pack. I mourned only for the part of him that watched longingly from the sidelines as groups of dogs played in a park without him. The fault was not his. It strongly appeared that his aggressive behavior may have been the one consistent action for which he might have been praised, rewarded and fed in the past. I felt only sympathy. And I developed definite opinions around dog – fighting.
But…I had different hopes for his relationship with CoCo Bella.
CoCo was the most positive, happy and well – rounded Pit Bull or even dog that I had ever met. She even traveled with Sheila to the Farmers’ Market one weekend and met and sniffed a baby bunny! At our Reiki Session, one woman who was frightened of dogs requested to be introduced to her because CoCo had been staring at the lady throughout the entire occasion. Of course she loved CoCo, and of course CoCo loved her. CoCo Bella is a registered Therapy Dog and a registered PAWS Dog – helping children learn to read. She is working towards her Canine Good Citizen’s Award. And she managed to change my mind about dogs. She is Sheila’s Soul Mate, and Shelia is hers.
And my Soul Mate is a big sloppy, stinky, burpy, poopy, drooly, messy, farty, growly, snoring Boy.
I think you can see why I was eager for a meeting between the two. If any other single dog was going to be an influence on Ca$h Money, I prayed it would be CoCo.
Sheila was very agreeable to the meeting. We set a date, a time and a place. She had patients in a local assisted living facility across from Cool Springs Reservoir. Perfect!
We set out for the Reservoir and I was more than a little nervous. I wanted Ca$h and CoCo to hit it off. She would really make good girlfriend material in my mind. And I wanted for Ca$h to be able to claim a friend.
Sheila and CoCo were waiting in a grassy patch outside the wrought iron reservoir gates. I waived and pointed Ca$h in their direction. When he finally saw them he pulled towards them enthusiastically.
Sheila and I kept tight holds on our leashes. CoCo wore her pretty pink harness and her Therapy Dog vest as she was just on the clock. Ca$h was sporting his nylon black halter. He was very interested in getting to know CoCo up close. He moved towards her very strongly. CoCo was not intimidated. Sheila and I allowed them to meet nose – to – nose. I was watching and listening every second. Ca$h jumped forward and pawed at CoCo. I thought I might have heard a growl. I was not sure but was about to take no chances with Sweet CoCo Bella. Sheila pulled back as I did. Since CoCo repelled any aggressive or antagonistic overtures Ca$h attempted, he decided to resort to a more ‘romantic approach’ if you know what I mean. I caught him and pulled him off her. Much like a good, protective Mother, Sheila encircled CoCo protectively in her arms to thwart any further amorous advances. Ca$h was confused. If he was not here to fight or to……then exactly why was he here? He was out of ideas. The big dork hid behind my legs and peeked around them uncomfortably at CoCo Bella.
Sheila suggested that we walk them around the path outside the Reservoir together. She kept CoCo slightly ahead of us And Ca$h seemed to feel comfortable following. He did not pull, nor did he exhibit any aggressive energy As we all walked we drew closer together as a group. Ca$h and CoCo walked calmly beside each other as if they had been litter-mates. It was thrilling. Just what I felt he needed.
After a loop around the Reservoir, we headed inside through the gates. There was a large brick patio with benches and a water fountain which we headed towards. Unceremoniously, we both plopped down on the warm bricks. Our pups followed suit, lying close to each other companionably. The evening sun was naturally relaxing. We chatted about normal things and did not mind the comfortable silences. After a while, it was time to go.
I do not know for certain exactly what the first five years of Ca$h’s life entailed. But I can guess. I think it is safe to say that although he is not completely sure what to do with her, he has his first Friend.