Everything comes in its own time. Working remotely full-time this past year has brought beautiful changes for our more timid and anxious pets. This is my final post about animal transformations during the pandemic, and I’m focusing on Garnet.
As a rescue, Garnet has taken a long time to release the trauma of her previous home. For years, if we called her to come to us, she would cringe or run the other way, afraid to have attention on her. Garnet avoided eye contact and couldn’t eat if I was looking at her. If I tried to give her a treat, I had to lay it at her feet and walk away before she could eat it. She gave up her breakfast daily to Tribble or River.
For several years, Jazz, our senior dog, had to take medication twice a day, and I gave him a treat each time to wash it down. The other dogs would watch, so they got treats, too. Jazz loved peanut butter treats, soft ones that he could eat even without all his teeth. Garnet was not a fan, and eventually, she wouldn’t even take one of those treats. When he died two years ago, I brought out Garnet’s favorite treats, a crunchy dried fish skin she loves but that Jazz couldn’t chew. There was a shift in her attitude! After another year of this, Garnet began to take treats straight from my hand. I love seeing Garnet’s face light up every time I pull out one of her favorite fish treats in the morning.
About a month ago, I called her over to give her some leftover fish (her favorite food). I waited and called two or three times, and she didn’t come. Resigned, I went about my chores. I was surprised a few minutes later when she walked in, slowly as if called to the principal’s office. She came when I called her! I was thrilled, and so was she, when she discovered a tasty tidbit all for her.
Soon after that, I was shocked when I served her breakfast. Garnet likes to eat away from the other dogs, and after I set Garnet’s bowl down, River soon came in to check Garnet’s bowl. I expected she would eat Garnet’s food again. Instead, I heard a growl– Garnet stood up for herself! To avoid a stand-off, I took River out so Garnet could eat. I was proud of Garnet for sticking up for her food against a dog five times her size.
Recently, Garnet has figured out where to wait during my morning routine. As soon as I approach, she gives me a frisky look and rolls onto her back, inviting me for a belly rub! My time is more flexible now, so I can give her pets before walking down the hall to my office. Both of us are enjoying this!
When it’s time for an evening walk, Garnet no longer runs upstairs to hide. She began to stay nearby but shook and cringed with fear. With more walks during the pandemic, she now comes to me when she hears the rattle of the harnesses and leashes. Garnet still looks down, letting me know that she is afraid, but she comes forward because she knows that her fear would hold her back from a good time. Sometimes during our walks, she decides that she’s through walking away from home. She turns around, points toward home, and won’t budge. Even if I’d planned to walk further, I let her call the shots. I feel like she needs to know that I will listen to her and what she wants matters.
My gut clenches as I think about the breakthroughs for Garnet this past year. Had I neglected her in prior years, working so long away from home every day? Was I a bad pet parent? The long days at work and the commute wore on me, and our time together was limited. Had Jazz been so needy in his final years that she felt overlooked?
Now, Garnet spends all day napping behind me as I work. When work is over, as I move around the house, she shadows me all the way. I think that there is something about being constantly together which has helped calm her anxiety. Plus, her confidence is building. No matter the cause, I’m pleased to see her happy here in our family.