Matinee – The Beginning
A couple of months passed and slowly Mattie was beginning to bond with us. We had decided that we would enroll her in obedience classes in the spring following her ‘spaying’ operation. I wanted to bring her to meet Mom in the long-term care facility to see how she would react to seniors and Mom. But first we had to overcome some ‘quirks’:
Mattie would not enter our kitchen because she seemed fearful of the linoleum floor. Looking back now, it wasn’t such a bad thing, as I was a little fearful of the ugly 70’s kitchen myself, but the surface at the home where Mom lived was Terrazzo flooring, not carpeting.
Onward and upward, we tried everything, including putting treats down in a line on the floor and giving her praise when she walked a little further to pick up one of the treats. I would sit in the middle of the floor and call her to point out the treat on the floor. She would slowly and hesitantly take a few steps, pick up the treat, and run back on the carpet to eat it. She made it through most of the kitchen, but would not stay. Again, I could totally relate.
Then there were the issues of running away. This could have been a result of when she went through her heat cycle (although we could never actually say when that occurred because she kept herself so clean, and we had lovely 70’s brown shag carpeting throughout the house that could mask any leakage – oy). My mistake, many times, was that I trusted her too much. She would lull me into such a false sense of security that I would open the front door without her leash on. Then she would run down our private road at lightning speed. I would run after her, calling her name, to which she would always turn her head to look at me, and then begin to run faster in the opposite direction.
I did not like this girl much during this time. Maybe we did need obedience classes, if only for us, and not necessarily her. Suddenly, just when I was beginning to think I should call the breeder to ask her to take Mattie back, she would amaze me. Mark always wanted to make her feel at home, and in doing so, he picked her up to place her on one of our couches. After that, the couch was hers, although she continued to use her crate at times, she took full ownership of the couch when we would sit and watch TV. Furthermore, I had the habit of leaving the TV on when we were not home so that there would be background noise for the dog and cats. One day when my neighbour came to take her out for her daily walk, and she mentioned to us;
‘There was Mattie, on the couch, watching Oprah’! How could you not laugh at that?
Then there were the times she played with the yellow lab ‘Daisy’ next door. She ruled that relationship and had so much fun doing it! I also noticed that she would bond quickly with women, but it took many months before she would begin to trust men.
The turning point in our relationship happened when I pulled a ligament in my knee. How embarrassing! I was playing outdoors with Mattie when I jumped from a bottom step and heard a ‘snap’ sound. I thought I broke my leg. The following weeks I would be on crutches. It was too difficult to walk Mattie around the yard with a leash, as it would get tangled in the crutches. One day I ventured outdoors with her and tried to put her leash on, but dropped it. She never moved. She waited. I slowly hobbled down the steps to our yard and she stuck right beside me.
From that day forward, she never, and continues to never leave my side. I somehow sensed she knew I was in some sort of physical distress and felt it was her job to protect and somehow help me. Of course that could be my imagination, because as Cesar Milan says ‘we tend to think that our dogs are people in dog costumes’.