Galina’s first weekend with us has been quite similar to having a visit from a busy toddler. She’s adorable and makes us speak in high pitched baby voices, but every time she’s left unattended (and sometimes when she’s not), she tends to put everything in her mouth. Sometimes that’s fine, maybe a little gross, but does no harm – like Ian’s dirty socks, a stuffed Rutters cow that belonged to no one, a paper with the high school course selection list, or a crouton that fell on the floor. Sometimes it’s not so fine – the remote control, the ottoman (yes!), the pill bottle of vitamins I set down for just a second, Grace’s favorite stuffy, or a wine cork (oh my God get that out of her mouth before she chokes).
We’re all learning to be more careful about what we leave lying around. I’m thinking this could play well for me in terms of allowing the natural consequences to deter unwanted behaviors. Maybe all mothers need a little busy beagle helper. Oh, you didn’t put your shoes in the cubby? I don’t know, maybe Galina has them? You took your snack out of the kitchen and left it on the couch? I wonder who would have eaten it? Couldn’t be troubled to hang up your favorite scarf? I might have an idea where it disappeared to….Of course, having watched her make off with papers, that old The-dog-ate-my-homework excuse could actually happen.
We’ve all begun to second guess what her true breeding is. The mischief-making does suggest beagle, but her diminished size, makes one wonder if there isn’t some smaller breed mixed in there, like Chihuahua or miniature dachshund. She is quite definitely a hound as she keeps her nose to the ground at all times and even has a little bitty baying bark. I see coonhound in there too, in her long legs and freckles.
She’s not giving any secrets away, but it’s evident she hasn’t always had good experiences with people. She cowers when we reach for her and freezes when we pet her, as if she’s afraid of our touch, yet she follows me from room to room, wagging her tail as I talk to her. Every sudden move or loud noise makes her jump. It took her nearly a day to finally relax and lay down. When she did it was in true hound dog fashion – sprawled out in the sun spotlight on the carpet.
Exploring the outdoors on her first day here, she ran full blast in the other direction when she saw one of the horses, her formidable ten pound self dragging me back to the house. This morning when I took her out in the freshly fallen snow, she launched enthusiastically off the porch only to be immediately swallowed up in snow. It was higher than her little legs. With a quick shake of her head to free her long ears, she accepted the situation and in moments was leaping along like a dolphin across the yard.
Later Nick snowblowed a path for her and after inspecting every inch of it, nose to the ground following a zig-zag trail of the scent, she bounded off through the deep snow chasing Gracie halfway down the hill before running out of gas, or maybe realizing she would never catch her long-legged friend in 8 inches of snow. She retreated back up the path she’d created and made for the door, exhausted and ready for another hounddog nap.
Gracie’s not so sure about the interloper yet. She watches her warily, keeping her distance most of the time. But every now and again, she can’t help herself and the two of them stage a game of tag through the living room. The snarls are mostly playful-sounding. Even though Gracie probably has 30 pounds on her, Galina seems to be the top dog so far in this little contest.
My biggest worry when we set off on this new endeavor was that 12-year-old Ian would become too attached, and we’d end up adopting the first dog we fostered and that would be that. He does seem completely enamored with Galina (and she with him), but just this morning he said, “Can our next foster dog be a husky?” so I’m thinking he’s finally onboard with the plan.
Last night, activities canceled due to the snow, we all settled in the living room to watch a movie, Gallina, too. I’ve never seen a dog watch TV like she does. She jumps at the big noises, retreating further from the set and sits on high alert never taking her eyes off the screen.
Thank goodness for the crate. It makes it possible for all of us to have a break. (If only it had been that easy when my kids were toddlers.) Galina is happy in her crate with its stash of collectibles – five of Ian’s dirty socks, one of Gracie’s toys, a cloth napkin from the kitchen, and the collection of toys meant for her. For a while she seemed to have an endless supply of plastic wrap but we finally figured out she was ripping the plastic cover off the base of the crate.
I write a lot about living intentionally. I’d have to say that Galina is reinforcing that practice for me and for all of us. We may be intentionally caring for her so that she can find the perfect forever home, but she’s teaching us to be intentional about how we touch her and whether we put our socks in the hamper.