Most people have fond memories of their dogs in their youth. They look back at photos of fuzzy puppies with their whole lives ahead of them overflowing with potential. They remember the playfulness and joy of shaping that young life. Those early years are full of warm feelings and people love to think back on them and reminisce how much fun it was to be together.
I don’t have memories like that with Risa. That’s not to say that we didn’t have a good time together or that I loved her any less in the past. It’s simply that we didn’t have a warm and fuzzy start. She was fearful and dog reactive. I was in over my head as a first time dog owner. There was no cute puppy stage. She was an adult dog just finishing up adolescence (at 2.5). She was cute (in a funny-looking way) and active. She had potential to be something amazing but it was buried deep. Even looking at photographs of her from that first year, you can see often see the fear in her eyes.
While it’s sad that I can’t always think of our past together and smile, I’m actually okay with that. Because, to me, it means our best years together are occurring right now. We’re at a point in our lives when everything pretty much clicks. People, aside from myself, can see her potential. They can finally see the true Risa. The one hidden behind that cloud of fear. That crazy, silly goofball that makes me smile inside and out. The one who defies anyone who thinks a dog can’t do certain things simply because they’re fearful. That the old adage that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks is baloney.
The constant worry about what she was going to do or what would scare her next is now a thing of the past. My concern over her future as my performance dog is also no longer an issue. She is my sport dog even with the limitations her temperament places on it. The potential has been unlocked. We fit more like a hand in a glove than we ever did before. So I don’t look back and think about what once was and miss it like I might had I gotten Risa as a pup. Instead, I look to what the future still holds for us both. Though I know, some day, I will look back on the good times and reminisce. Especially as the grey creeps through her coat even more and she starts slowing down (not sure if that’ll ever happen!). But, for now, we’re living in the moment and enjoying every bit of it! 🙂