Joy comes in the form of a furry puppy whose tail wags when I say his name and whose big brown eyes look into mine and melt my heart. We decided to get a puppy when Russ retired and we had time to be with it. Friends recommended a Tibetan Terrier (not a true terrier) as a good companion dog who would be loyal to us both and not be a one person dog. Russ dragged his feet but when he went on the internet and found a breeder, not only near us, but with puppies, the die was cast.
For the last year, my life has revolved around this 4-legged ball of energy, a Tibetan Terrier puppy named Little Bear. It’s like having a baby all over again. We brought him home in February and for the first months, we actually wrote down every pee and poop so we’d know when to take him out again—every two to three hours, rain or shine. We arranged a little fenced off area in the kitchen so he could be with us yet not have free access to the house. Russ and I took turns sitting on the floor inside to play and cuddle him. He got used to the 3 cats coming and going, occasionally stopping to look and sniff.
We read books on positive reinforcement training and on how dogs see the world differently from us. We took him to puppy classes to socialize him to other dogs; he went from fear to frolic with his new friends. We hired a highly recommended dog trainer who lured Little Bear with high level treats to walk nicely on a leash. When we wanted to go shopping or out for a meal, we took him in the car, made time for a walk, and parked in the shade for him to nap. He made friends with other dogs and we became friends with their owners. Every decision on what to do started with “What about Little Bear?”
Now 22 months, full grown, and a prominent family member, all the work is paying off. He has become a grand companion, with a few remaining things to work on. He still only comes if he feels like it. He still can’t control himself when he sees a squirrel. He wants to run more than we do. But the happy wag of his tail and the smile in his eyes when he sees us trumps everything.
The past year has seen many ups and downs and the world, as my mother would say, is going to hell in a hand basket. Little Bear reminds us that however tough life seems, there is joy to be found.