Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bonita, untouched by human hands

  On New Year's Day we arrived home in Puerto Rico for the first time in six months. We never go right into the house. The view from our porch is so serene; it nurtures in ways that words fail to express.
  After inhaling the island air we turned to see the most pitiful puppy, her eyes had the dullness of one who has given up on life with a stomach sucked in so much her butt was tucked under making walking difficult. From a hiding spot behind a pot that once held palms, too dazed to know what to do, she looked like she wanted to run, but didn't have the energy. She was practically bald; her feet were inflamed bright pink socks.
Luckily we came with groceries. Feeding the pup along with her two adult companions proved difficult at first. Never underestimate how fast a dog can move or gulp food! I tossed her nourishment what I thought was a good enough distance when her pregnant again mother ran over, bit her sharply on the nose and growled. The puppy backed into the corner away from the food. She made no further moves toward the food no matter how far away I kept the others; finally, we got her to lap some milk.
  In a day the feeding routine was worked out. A couple of weeks later her tummy has grown enough that her top line is flattening out. Her hair is growing into a nice short brown coat. For a dog that looks like Wiley Coyote with flop ears, she's looking pretty, so we call her "Bonita".
  The first week she ran off the porch when the door opened, whenever we moved or stood up. She takes food from our hands, but was still terrified of us. By day ten we could walk around her without causing her to move.
  My goal was to get her to want to be pet. Stormy and Blondie love petting, so I thought she would get curious; she does just not enough to overcome her fear. Bonita lays behind the palm pot frequently while I stand near her bending at the waist like I can still touch my toes, my hands dangle almost to the floor. She no longer walks away. As much as I want her to initiate the contact, I can't resist; the back of my hand slides against her side. The puppy's eyes bug out of her head she is shot from guns propelled forward, then turned and glared at me!
  Patience is a lifelong learning for me, so I wonder if she has been set back in her socialization. She walks away when I come near.
  The next day my hands are dangling the same way just inches from her. This time I could see it in her face that she wanted me to touch her. Twice I stroked her with the back of my hand before she lurched forward about a foot, and then went into a big stretch. We both knew how big that was for her.

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