}

Thursday, February 06, 2020

My furbabies adapted


There’s an aspect to this new period in life I haven’t talked about in great detail: How the furbabies are adjusting. This is kind of odd, really, because one of the few things Nigel made me promise him was about that. “Promise me you’ll look after my babies,” he said. “Of course!”, I answered, maybe a little firmly. He then added, “I know you will; they’re your babies, too.”

And they are. I was worried how they’d adjust after Nigel died, so I went to great lengths to make sure they’d be okay. Among other things, when we brought Nigel home, I lifted up the dogs so they could sniff him and know he was gone. Studies have shown that dogs can recognise human faces, and remember them for years. Because of that, I knew they’d know it was him, and by sniffing him they’d know their time with him was over. It was the only thing I could think of to do because I was afraid that otherwise they’d be at the windows around 5:30 every afternoon, waiting for Nigel to come home and not understanding why he never did. It turned out they didn’t wait for him, so maybe my plan worked?

After everything was over, and everyone had left, the dogs saw me crying, and had mixed reactions. Jake looked concerned, while nothing much concerns Sunny. Leo had a sort of “WTF?” look on his face the first time I sobbed in front of him. They all got used to it.

Over time, and with more experience seeing my cry, they became nurturing. They snuggle up close to me if I’m in bed, or Leo will nuzzle me if I’m in my chair (he often sleeps in my lap). In general, all three dogs have chosen to be close to me wherever I am in the house, following me from room to room, almost as if they have to keep me in sight.

They coped well with my bringing them to Hamilton and back to Auckland so often, apart from Leo who tends to get car sick. But their reaction to their new home? That surprised even me.

Maybe it was because I didn’t bring them here until the movers had left, and the house was filled with “their” stuff. They sniffed, ran around, but otherwise settled extremely quickly. Since then, it’s as if they’ve always lived here, totally relaxed and peaceful. Whenever anyone in the family comes round, they all notice how at home the dogs are.

During this time of upheaval, emotional distress, and depression for me, the reaction of the furbabies is literally the ONE thing that makes me happy, because they’re so clearly happy and relaxed. It’s hard not to feel that way whenever I look at them.

And yet I’m neither happy nor relaxed, and not even watching them can change that. It’s kind of cute and touching when one or more of them tries to comfort me when I’m crying, but the truth is, it also makes me stop precisely because they’re so adorable. Maybe that’s their intent.

But the biggest reason this makes me happy is that it means I’m keeping my promise to Nigel: I’m looking after our babies, and they’re happy in their new home. I can no longer do anything for Nigel, but keeping this promise, while easy, is one thing I CAN still do, and that makes it matter to me quite a lot.

Our babies are happy. Promise kept.


Up top is a photo of Leo in his bed in our new home that I shared to Instagram early this evening. The photo at the bottom of the post is of Sunny and Jake all snuggled up together, which is a little unusual for them. I took it a week ago tonight, but being taken at night means it’s not as good quality as the photo of Leo. Nevertheless, equal time, and all that.

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