I See You!


Alfie teaches me patience. She shows me how to listen. It isn't easy, I'm a slow learner.

Before Waffles arrived, Alfie and I had settled into a routine. At two, she had started to relinquish her puppy ways. She was settling in as a lap dog, a writing dog -- at home beside me on the couch or at my feet beneath my desk. She studied me, learned my ways and mimicked my behavior. When the computer came out it was work time and she'd take her place beside me.

Introducing Waffles to the mix ignited a flame, it was like waving crack cocaine at an addict. Waffles became Alfie's shiny new toy. Raising the ante, she promised play and the potential for more food. Alfie lives her life in anticipation of the next big feast and Waffles became her plus 2 at the banquet table. Now, all she had to do was figure out how to steal Waffle's supply of snacks and treats. This leaves Alfie on high alert. She yips and barks at Waffles even when Waffles has nothing she wants. She creeps and crawls into Waffles' crate doing surveillance, checking for a hidden stash, and sometimes she stumbles on a goldmine.

I feel like I have stumbled on a hornet's nest. I dwell in a swarm of chaos. Alfie has little sense of her own body, the weight and pressure she exerts. if she wants Waffles or a bone or a toy, she goes for it and if it means leaping on your chest or your face, all 22 lbs. of her, so be it. She pants ceaselessly, she yaps, she jumps.

And, I learn patience and how to listen.

When, she was a puppy, my lessons began. She exhibited this behavior then and I would become frustrated. I'd snap or push her away and she'd come back and jump some more or worse. And, I'd want to scream. But eventually I got it. She was talking to me, she wanted something. Sometimes it was food, sometimes it was play, sometimes she was simply saying, "Look at me!" So, I learned to listen and I'd say, "I see you!" and I really tried to and it seemed to work. She grew and quieted and I thought  this is what it is like to know your dog and she wagged her curl of a tail and seemed to know me right back.

Then came Waffles and that dog disappeared and the whirling dervish took her place. And, I forgot all I had learned. So, lately we've been living in the whirlwind -- my mood as exasperated as Alfie's is heightened. Then something clicked. I am not listening. I stopped seeing my dog.

And, now I have a game plan. I will stop and breathe, listen and look until I learn to see her again. And, if I am lucky, she will throw me a bone to reward my efforts.