So. Here I am minding my own business when I started thinking.
Zac would have had some sarcastic remarks to make around about now. He was always the thinker, the wise one, the watcher of the world and television. As you know I was the ditzy one. The perennial puppy. The carefree, play-all-the-time Princess. Thinking was Zac’s department, living life to the fun was mine.
Since Zac left us that has been changing. And this morning I woke with thoughts buzzing around in my head.
And I found that when I started I couldn’t stop.
Why now I wondered? My hair is growing longer so maybe it’s a little like that Sampson guy from the bible that I’ve heard mentioned. You know. The guy who lost his strength with his hair cut off. Maybe I need long hair to think?
Or perhaps it’s just watching the youngsters in the park. I’m six now and the oldest of the Poodle Pack. I have to face facts. I’m growing up. Maybe this is maturity?
Or perhaps it’s just that some of the things I’ve been through have changed me. They do say that don’t they? Whatever we go through in life can make us stronger if we let it. Choose whether you become better or bitter.
I don’t wish to sound like a broken record but I am realising that this began when Zac died. Up until that point I was happy, safe and I didn’t think anything bad could happen.
We escaped from the garden once and ran through the streets having a ball. When The Help found us she was so relieved and I heard her saying we could have been killed but to us it was a great adventure. Nothing bad could happen to us. Could it?
Then of course it did. Zac crossed over the Rainbow Bridge and I was alone.
I took to the new bed The Help bought for me and rarely left it.
I slept all day.
I went out for a walk but stayed close to The Help’s legs and didn’t sniff or relate to the other dogs at all. I didn’t really see the park and I wasn’t interested in catching up with anyone.
I found that I couldn’t really respond when the family came to call. Even Miss Seven (now Miss Eight) couldn’t get me to leave my bed.
All my toys stayed neatly in their basket in the corner of the room.
Just going out into the garden was a huge effort for me. I didn’t want to do anything.
My head was just filled with fear, confusion and negativity.
I was still eating but I wasn’t really tasting. It was mechanical. I guess I still had that instinct to survive even though I had no joy in that survival. I was going through the motions.
I didn’t know it at the time but The Help did. I was depressed.
I had to go to the vet for my normal vaccinations and he offered some medicine. The Help and The Boss didn’t want to go that route.
It’s not that they’re against medication. They would have used it as a last resort but they were pretty sure they knew what I needed.
Anyway after those couple of occasions when I ate the pretty coloured stuff and went yellow (blush of embarrassment) my liver hasn’t been so good so they really didn’t want to give me anything if they didn’t have to.
Sometimes medication is needed but I wasn’t chewing myself or causing self-harm. I was just very, very sad. It wasn’t straight forward grieving either, it was depression.
I had had no experience of loss. I had been protected all my life. I’d left my puppy family and the same day I moved in with Zac and he loved me and protected me and spoiled me. He made sure I was never frightened.
Reality hit and I didn’t know how to cope. Hence the depression.
The Help and I would sit and chat about Zac and she would try and comfort me. They would take me everywhere with them as I would howl when they didn’t!
Depression is an awful thing. I had no control over it. It was a thick blanket that smothered me and I did not have the strength to get out.
Then The Help and The Boss came up with the idea of getting Raffles.
They decided that the best thing for me was for me to have another pal in the house not to replace Zac but another pal for me to form a relationship with. I was quite interested. A puppy. I like puppies. Puppies are little and cute and you can curl up with them – right?
Well you all know the story of MY puppy. He was nothing like that.
Little? Definitely not.
Cuddle up with? Not unless I fancied losing a spleen from a crush injury!
But it did help that I wasn’t alone any more. And there was no way I could pretend that this was another Zac.
He may have looked like a minor mountain, but he acted all puppy which made it quite dangerous for a while there.
And this I believe, was the beginning of my becoming a little more aware. A little more responsible. I’m the mature one in the house. If the pup gets scared he comes to me!
Even though he has always been big and not my idea of a puppy, those first few weeks didn’t really prepare me for the present day giant that he has become.
My beautiful bed was briefly able to take the two of us.
And at the beginning when we went out for walks he would just follow where I went.
On his first trip to be groomed I had to go with him. Now he is gaining in confidence and it is great to see. I feel I have helped him to become who he is today.
There are times when I feel quite proud of how he is turning out.
I have tried to get him interested in television.
As you may remember Zac was a great one for television. He would watch anything. He loved the funniest videos, he’d bark at dogs and he hated horses. He’d growl at the bad guys with guns and he’d have to run and get big dog during the scary movies.
I’m not into television in the same way but I do still bark and run to the tv set whenever a dog comes on the screen. Even cartoon dogs. Raffles runs with me but because he has no idea what we’re doing he usually runs me over! He just doesn’t seem to see the screen.
This has made me wonder what else I should teach him.
I have told him a little of his Mum and Dad and where he comes from but I think I may teach him a little of the family history. There have been quite a few dogs in The Help’s past and it might be interesting to briefly talk about them. In a way, they helped to form her and therefore us.
Then of course there is the ongoing puppy training which The Boss is still doing with Raffles.
Every evening he takes Raffles into the garden for leash practice and to reinforce sitting and staying. I feel it is my duty to participate and give the kid support. So I go along too. But being a perfect Princess I don’t need the lead. When The Boss says sit I sit because I get a treat too 🙂 I think it helps the kid to know I can do all this stuff – when I want to of course.
Zac was very firm on the ‘come’ command. He told me early on that you only obey that one when you are sure there is something good being offered. Half the time, he told me, they just want to lock you in the house and go out or they want to have someone interesting over and for some reason you’re not going to get to meet them.
I haven’t been able to convey that to Raffles. He just seems to want to do the right thing. Sometimes I wonder what Zac would do and I reckon he’s probably laughing at me from his soft bed on the Rainbow Bridge. He’s probably enjoying the peace and quiet up there without me!
Getting Raffles helped. It took time but I am out of the depression. The experience has changed me though and I am only just realising how much. I choose not to be bitter. I will be better.
So I have been thinking. And I’m thinking that I need to pass some wisdom onto the pup.
This is new for me so I’m going to start slowly. I’m going to start by going backwards.
Yep. Zac is definitely laughing!
I’m going to go way, Way, WAY back in the past and tell you and the pup a little about the ones who have been before us and helped to train The Help! And this might shock you but there have been a few cats in there too. It doesn’t shock you? Well it shocked me!
I think we’ll start with Jason, the Irish Red Setter, coming to a blog near you very, very soon 🙂
Love from Zena, the Perfect Princess