After a teary goodbye from her beautiful puppy home and her two moms -- Kate (the beard) and Debra Thomas, breeder from heaven and soul of sweetness -- we put Lily in her crate, Ariel in the back of the car next to the crate, and started the two-hour trek back home.
Not a yip or a wuf from either dogs over the course of the two hour drive. Getting home was big. Carrying her in, cradling her, I headed right for the back yard, close to "her" place to see if she had anything she wanted to share with the earth.
No go. She wanted to stay in my arms, She cuddled for close to an hour, assuming a posture very unusual for dogs. I held her on her back her head rested in the crook of my arm, belly exposed, pale pink and soft and totally vulnerable. I caressed that belly and matched her kiss for kiss for kiss for kiss.
It occurred to me how amazing it was to sit in the sun holding the soul of Gazer and Lily in the form of this white and black creature, fully her own and also mine. Just as I am fully my own but also hers. A mutual joy, an interspecies feast of how we all really are the same.
Finally, she decided to put paw on freshly mown grass. And the timid exploration began. She took ten steps, and then ran back to me, tail wagging furiously, another round of big hellos and kisses. Then 12 steps. More joy at being reunited after such a long trip. Then 15.
By 40 steps, she was trotting and sniffing green grass and ferns and potato plants. She sat next to a rosemary plant sniffing that for a long while (what can I saw, she's an aromatherapist's animal companion -- good taste). Occasionally, she'd come back, butt and tail waggling and wagging, but for the most part, I became a land mark. We wandered together, but she finally wanted her own "space" to check things out. I sat watching, just reveling in that cute swagger puppies have, kind of like Captain Jack Sparrow. Not tight and militaristic, but a little flamboyant and just plain drunk on life.
Meal time was at 6, on time. And she ate and would step away -- too many new smells to be into her food with unbroken attention. But after 10 minutes she had eaten it all (THANK GOD! SHE LIKES TO EAT (for non-beardie folks out there, beardies often disdain food; they would MUCH rather play)). And we're off to round two.
Yes, it's after six p.m. by then. She had a two-hour ride home, and we'd been home for almost two hours. And had not yet peed. As my non-stop high-voice, I-love-you-patter continued, I nicknamed her Camel.
Exploring the house was big. Wherever I went she followed, and so we stepped into the shamanic studio.
For those of you who know the saga, you know why this was a Big Moment for me. She came in cautiously sniffing. I picked up a rattle an began to play softly. She came right to me, and sat down directly in front of me. Reverent. I know, it sounds like I am anthropomorphizing, but she was looking at me stock still and listening. I rattled louder and sang I Circle Around. One chorus. And then she moved.
In the old days with Gazer, when a session was done, he would trot out of the room. He ALWAYS had great discipline about the studio being for journeying, and whenever we finished he trotted out. She was finished, and tail wagging, briskly trotted out. I mean, I know it's both Gazer and Lily in that body -- no doubts. But these Gazer-like moments are pretty thrilling. Just as the pure Lily moments.
Ariel was asleep in the living room. Ariel who had been a QUEEN, a perfect dog, and who had received as much attention as the little one, lay in her place snoring away.
Now, I was breaking all the rules last night. So shoot me. I mean, she has NEVER had a leash on so this is a new concept AND a collar is new AND it's her first time away from home AND no smells are familiar AND....
But I wanted to see what she did so I watched. She got about 6 feet away from Ariel and sat down. Bumph. Decidedly. And watched Ariel. When I finally thought to look at my watch to see how long she was going to do this, and then again to her next movement -- five minutes. When she lied down, she did so with her nose pointing at Ariel.
All that while she watched, I could almost hear the wheels turning. She is different than all my dogs (the eight plus dogs she had spent her life with to date). She smells different. I am careful with her. Whether smartness, the knowledge that Ariel is older and head of the dog pack (for now anyway) or just wary, Lily watched Ariel. Her head cradled between her paws, she did not look away until a new distraction presented itself -- Don came in from the studio.
It is clear that Lily has exquisite taste because she is in love with Don. Loves to kiss him, and she already has him wrapped around that white, muddy paw.
But as he walked into the room as is her right, he gave Ariel big pets and kisses before turning to Shanghai Lil (new nickname). Shanghai does nothing in a small way. So by the time Don got to her wriggling, kissing and hugging (yes, HUGS with her front paws) were bestowed with gusto.
More exploring of the house, and we got to the bedroom. Within 11 seconds flat, I had her up on the bed. Thereby winning the bet that Don and I made. HE said she would be up with me on the bed in 20 minutes. It was HOURS. I did really well. Really.
She liked it, but too constraining, and off she went and more exploration. The most fun thing in the room? The hose to my apnea mask and the mask itself. EXCELLENT smelling chew toys (note to self: disconnect everything or you will have to invest in lots of tape to fix holes in expensive equipment). The ONLY thing in the house she cannot mouth (we did an awesome job puppy proofing), and it's the irresistible I-MUST-mouth-this thing.
And on it went.
Everyone keeps telling me to be more active. Physical therapist. My "Take Shape for Life" coach. My doctor. Everyone. No problem. I hadn't sat down for a long time.
I left the room for a few minutes, and when I returned, I found everyone passed out. I didn't know dogs could sleep like this.
So later than usual for her, and earlier than usual for us, the house went to sleep.
I woke up and bounded out of bed at 10 a.m. Don had slept on the family room couch with the crate in there with Lil. He was going to wake me at 9 a.m. I threw on clothes, and flew out of the room.
I came out to a chorus of snores. Don was now asleep on the living room couch. Lily was asleep on the floor. Ariel was in there, too. Don and Ariel were snoring. LOUDLY. Puppy toys and bones (one co-opted by Ariel and clutched in her paws as she slept) were strewn everywhere. Pillows were stacked against a door to my studio like a barricade. I started laughing and woke the crew. No pee anywhere (whew).
And so began a new day, the first full day.
I have written this entire thing sitting at our dining room table after breakfast and some play. Ariel is again asleep in the living room. Lil has now SLEPT in her expen (another victory achieved) for 2 hours (excellent). Don is asleep in his room.
New life changes everything. A new spirit and an old spirit have come into the house and now we are four, not three. My heart, for the first time in more than three years, as I held Gazer's head as he died, is full. Time to re-awaken everyone to go play outside. The sun is shining.