Being the Mama

There’s something about mama dogs.

It’s as if they know something other dogs don’t.

I remember a similar feeling after giving birth to my own first born. The world seemed maybe not so simple, while at the same time it was much clearer to me what matters.

Berneen (or Bernie as we’ve taken to calling her as she is also a bit of a rumpled underdog) has clearly been a mama. Her body would testify to that, but so would her heart.

I picked her up from boarding on Sunday in the rain. She ducked her head as I herded her to my car, but I know now it wasn’t because of the rain. That’s been her way. She’s an incredibly humble dog, always wanting to get out of your way, not claim too much space. She still crumbles to the floor when I reach for her collar to snap the leash on and whimpers in gratitude once it’s clear we’re going for a walk.

She spent the first two days here sleeping. She lay on the Frank bed (covered with a blanket because I worried when she hadn’t peed for hours – although she has yet to have any accidents). She lay with her legs tucked under her so that she resembled a seal. She seemed exhausted, not even raising her head when we moved about the kitchen. I wondered if she was mourning something or someone or if the last months of being a stray and a shelter dog were very hard and finally she was in a safe place where she could sleep.

She’s clearly been someone’s dog before. She’s housebroken and well-mannered. She reminded me of Carla when she first arrived – another heartbroken dog.

Oak was just dying to meet her and when I finally allowed it, he crawled all over her, like the puppy he is.

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I worried he would bother her too much. At first, she ignored him, but then she gently batted him away when she’d had enough. Later she indulged him, playing with him like a mama would – teasing and swatting at him, but never using her full weight (eight times his!).

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She’s perking up a little more every day. She loves to go outside and is definitely happiest exploring the property. She’s still figuring out the leash – which side to walk on, how to untangle a leg, but she’s a quick study so she’s just about got the etiquette down already.

I catch glimpses of the playful dog buried beneath too much extra baby weight and a history I can’t know. She’ll dash about on the leash, but quit the moment I pull. A few times, she’s even jumped up on me in joy when I tell her she’s such a good dog for pottying outside.

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She loves Oak and comes to life when they have playtime. Here’s a video of them wrestling over the slowly leaking stuffed penguin which has been Oak’s favorite plaything here. (It’s not snowing in my house – that’s stuffing and beans from the penguin and a small shark they dismantled.)

Bernie is going to make someone very happy. I’m certain her life only gets better from here. She’s a lovely guest, though, so we’ll keep as long as needed. Soon, she’ll be feeling better and getting healthier. I’d bet by next week I’ll be writing about a completely new Bernie.

(If you’d like to meet her in person, stop by the Pet Smart in York on Route 30 between 11am and 2pm this Sunday!)

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Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

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