I’ve learned a new lesson in city/country acclimatization. Those that know me, know that I’ve recently acquired a dog, found on the side of the highway, sought but didn’t discover who she belonged to or where she came from, fed her like crazy until her bones didn’t stick out and we have since grown very attached to each other, my little mountain goat black fox alien and me.
Yes, well, ahem… At any rate, we are hanging out and for the most part it’s fun and she’s silly and slightly crazy and so very pretty, obviously we are peas in a pod. If a pod were to only have two peas. She does have some issues that have been likely exacerbated by the ease and freedom of living in Ymir. Yesterday she learned that walking into stores is not appreciated everywhere, unlike in Ymir, though it’s not totally allowed there either, but she doesn’t know that so don’t mention it. If you walk up to other dogs in an aggressive manner with the notion of asserting your dominance freely because the humans are wise enough to allow you to do this unfettered, it tends to make little old ladies scream in panic. She couldn’t understand why, after growling and lunging at every dog we saw they would be pulled away and wouldn’t come talk to her. Which was likely for the best because after lunging for them attached to a collar and leash (also a new way of being for her) she would choke herself so definitively that it would have probably been tough for her to say anything anyhow. She did learn toward the end of the day and stopped pulling so forcefully, it gave me hope that her go-to in the future when meeting other dogs while on a leash might be tempered a bit. But none of these things could even compare with the frenzy of smell.
Everywhere we went, it was nose to the ground madness. Have to see-must get over there-wtf is that? Attempts to crawl into open sewers, between giant boulders, up trees, in bushes. There were dozens of times when I made her stop and focus on me and come back to herself a bit because the crazy eyes were in effect. And then some. I imagine it might be the same for someone who is autistic, though I can’t say for sure. But her ability to shut out noise and scent and sensation seemed non-existent.
Knowing none of her back story, much less her age, I have no idea if she has ever been in a city before. Ever seen the ocean, an open sewer (her interest in them would suggest no?). So I made a decision to extract us from the big city and caught the last ferry to the island where my mum lives in as rural as one can get in an urban setting. When I say that, I mean you can see the city from here, but there are still more trees than houses. It seemed a good compromise for a dog who may have never known bright lights big city collar and leash time. And yes, she is much calmer here. The noises of the town are removed from us and she got to do some exploring, off leash, in the woods around my mom’s place. Which is for sale…just sayin….
I’ve often wondered at my own culture shock, coming from the country back in to the town. I speak laughingly about the horror of having to drive to the big city of Nelson,which has approximately 10,000 people. The reality, when I get to the city and get into city mode and drive like a maniac and communicate with other drivers through screaming and specific gestures, I feel very comfortable because my ability to adapt is fluid. I’m ready to leave after a very short amount of time, but that’s only because I know where my happy place is. I grew up in a house that is urban removed. So urban removed is still the place I like the best. Is it any surprise that I ended up finding home in a place like Ymir? Not to me.
But to someone like Gala, the difference in stimulus must be devastating, especially when there’s almost no time to adapt to what is happening. I’ve done the city trips with many different friends and never gave much thought to how we all react to situations differently, because in the end, if you don’t adapt, you don’t flow and if there’s no flow, it’s difficult to stop trying to have a good time and just have one. That why we have the ability to talk to one another and hopefully that leads to an ability to communicate. But I don’t assume that’s going to happen with a dog, especially when I’ve decided to be responsible for her happiness and well being. So how I adapted was to compromise in the hopes that it would help. And that compromise was to remove ourselves from a situation that she didn’t choose, but was obligated to come along for the ride because she’s come to depend on me. I didn’t necessarily want to leave the city just yet, I have lots of friends and family there, but logic and compassion dictated that it was time to go. Perhaps on the way back, the notion of the roadtrip will have settled somewhat and she’ll be a little more prepared for something like Vancouver, but if not, then we’ll go back to the mountains where she can frolic in the snow and I can laugh at her antics because I’ll know she’s content. Such direct lessons in compassion rarely come as a result of my dealings with people, which is too bad, because if I treated human animals as kindly as I treat non-human animals, I think it could be very pleasant to be around me all the time. I’ll work on that.