Sunday, February 06, 2005

Please, Let Me In

When Ridge came to live with us he was three years old. We purchased him as a sire investment in our dream to pursue small-scale breeding one day. He had many traits we were looking for:

strong hunting lines and retrieving instincts
graceful lines and stature
fox red color (the far end of the yellow Lab breed standard)
proven siring abilities
tolerance for other dogs
a love for people

He also came with traits we didn't expect:

higher energy than any Lab we'd ever known
incredible patience with puppies
fear of thunderstorms and firecrackers
a preference for people over others of his kind
excitability unlike any Lab we'd ever known
the ability to stand upright on his hind legs (like a bear)

At first we thought his puzzling characteristics hinted at the trauma he went through leaving his original home, the one he'd known his whole life, to come to ours.

Then we thought his behaviors were a kind of canine anxiety disorder. Hence, our fond ribbing about Ridge being "slightly neurotic."

Now we know better. I think Ridge's energy, excitability with people, need to be with two-legged friends, and preference for humankind are symptomatic of a single, heart-warming trait: Ridge is filled with the desire to please. He wants approval: nothing more, nothing less.

For months I misread him. I didn't understand (though I loved) his quirky ways. But I'm realizing now that all he's wanted all this time was for us to let him into our hearts.

Well, we have. Completely. He's one of us now. And Ridge seems to know it, too. He's less "neurotic" and more secure in our love. He belongs.

Welcome home, Ridge. The door's wide open.

'Til next time.

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