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Happiness Is So Much Simpler than You Might Think

It really is quite simple when the veneer of life’s manufactured worries is stripped away; “it’s about our relationships with the earth, nature, and each other…”

Trail Dog: The Essence of Happiness

love, canine style

A few weeks ago Chris and I got it into our heads that it might be a good idea to get a family pet—a dog. I’m not sure exactly what we were thinking. At first, I was totally against it. A dog?! Ahh, man, I didn’t want to have one of those “dog houses;” you know the  Briggs, our New Friend type–hair everywhere, scratches all over the floors, the persistent stink of dog at every turn. And then there’s the yard–patches of yellow from concentrated dog piss, piles of poop awaiting the unsuspecting shoe, craters of mud where the neatly manicured lawn once grew. But then Chris wore me down.

I started looking at the photos of the dogs available at local shelters and rescues. I got my mind wrapped around it. Aidan had been asking—despite his mild fear of dogs. We thought this would be a chance for him to overcome this fear, to learn responsibility, and to have a truly loyal friend and companion growing up.

After much searching and several visits to adoption events, foster homes, shelters and rescues, we found Briggs (formerly known as Pilgrim and then Copper). We found him through the All Herding Breed Dog Rescue of Illinois, and first met Briggs at the home of his foster family. We arranged the meeting and spent a good bit of the afternoon getting to know him at their home. We threw the ball with him (fetching came preinstalled), fed him treats, walked up and down the street, talked with the family to learn more about his disposition and overall personality. It was clear that the foster family loved him very much. In fact, it was their intention to adopt Briggs (they called him Copper) but as it turned out their older Lab didn’t like sharing their attention and the match wasn’t quite right.

Once we decided to adopt Briggs, I could sense the mix of feelings coming form his foster family. While they were happy to find him a good home, they didn’t want to let him go—especially the college-age daughter. She would always dress him up in different colored bandanas, cuddle him like a child, and love him like her own. As we stood their in the driveway and the family said their goodbyes, it was hard. Clearly they loved him so much. We asked if they wanted more time or if maybe they wanted to reconsider, but they said no and assured us that it was for the best at that they were just happy that we could provide a good “forever” home for him. We were sure going to try our best.

He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion.
– Anonymous

So, it’s been about five weeks now. Briggs is getting adjusted. He’s so smart. I got a few books and do my best to work with him everyday to keep him learning and stimulated mentally. We plan to enroll him in some training classes at the end of this month. Briggs is coming along just fine, but I’m not sure we can say the same for Aidan. About a week or two back, Briggs found his voice and now will bark on occasion. His barking sends Aidan into a panic; he runs squealing from the room or—believe it or not—scrambling for higher ground atop our kitchen table. Briggs, of course, finds this alarming and so barks more; thus begins the cycle. Aidan skulks around, scurrying here and there, which kicks off Briggs herding instinct and he begins to bark at the unusual little “calf” running about. Aidan squeals and runs, Briggs barks more and chases him, and on and on. This may sound a little amusing, but it’s actually quite troubling and is causing all kinds of stress. We’re hoping either Briggs and/or Aidan adjusts to one another soon.

I, for one, would hate to give Briggs up. First of all, I would feel like a complete failure contacting his previous foster home and telling them it didn’t work out. But more significantly, I would certainly feel the loss of a truly loyal companion and good friend. I’ve only known Briggs for a little more than a month, but we’ve really bonded. He is a smart, loyal dog—always so happy to see me. We’ve become fast friends, running partners, confidants. I know I sound like one of those crazy “dog people” now, but what can I say, he won me over. I just hope he can do the same for Aidan.

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