10 Days In The Life of Cerise
Cerise has been with us now for 10 days. Which means she’s been out of the puppy farm for 2 months. Two homes in 2 months have been her experiences outside of the concrete walls that her previous life consisted of. It must be bewildering for any dog to be whisked out of darkness into an alien world; an endless stream of adjustments and difficult challenges just to get through each day. But, she’s embracing her future with the courage that’s familiar to us from seeing first Susie-Belle, then Twinkle go from terrified, traumatised breeding dog, to content, peaceful family member. In Twinkle’s case she’s still working on allowing herself to be truly happy at all times, but, since Cerise has joined us, she’s making a determined effort to show her new sister that life living with humans is good.
Cerise is wary of all humans, including us; but, as the days pass, her wariness weakens and we’re seeing less cowering, and more flickers of the bold, cheeky dog that’s hiding beneath a shroud of fear that’s come with her from the puppy farm. Her first weeks with her wonderful foster mum will certainly have helped her shed some of the worst of it, but, she’s had to learn once again that this new set of humans she’s living with, are humans that can be trusted, and her canine sisters are there to help her.
In the house, and outside, she increasingly holds eye contact, seeks us out with a focused gaze that’s more curious than anxious. In this sense she’s similar to Twinkle, whose sharp, intelligent eyes have always followed me around; me more than Michel, perhaps because I’m the primary source of food and goodies. I’m their constant, with them most of each day as I work from home.
A useful fillip is that Cerise has inherited dear Susie-Belle’s legendary gluttony. She’s a gourmand in waiting, we can see, and smile at all the familiar signs, knowing this will be a great aid in building her trust. And her enjoying her life with us. Once the pesky anxieties lift, which currently stop her from showing her true appreciation of good food, we’ll be well on the way to living again, with a dog who embraces a gulosity that we’re happy to live with, even, dare I admit, to nurture. We are after all, notorious for our food indulgences.
But, for now, Cerise eats well, but won’t, can’t, take food directly from our fingers. We can see she wants to, but can’t quite overcome the fear that stops her. Although, this morning on our first walk of the day, she moved forwards for the first time to take a tiny piece of cooked chicken from my fingers, having for 10 days watched Renae and Twinkle unhesitatingly snaffle up theirs. Inwardly I cheered this small, but meaningful step, as her making the move to seeing life’s easier, more tasty if she comes to the front of the queue. There was a time that this was unthinkable for Twinkle. For Susie-Belle in fact, the dog who could have made groking an Olympic sport.
And this is the thing with us and Cerise. As the third dog we’ve begun this journey with, we know it will eventually be good, excellent in fact. And along the way, there’ll be small steps forwards, which will gradually build up and up into a full, wild, exciting run at enjoying life. Susie-Belle sped up her enjoyment of living when Twinkle arrived, after Susie-Belle had been here for 18 months. Now, in turn, we’re seeing this with Twinkle, she’s suddenly morphed into a much more confident dog; she knows the routines – many of them designed around her during the almost 3 years she’s been with us – and is happily showing Cerise what she knows. They’re good friends already. They cuddle up in a pile, just as Twinkle and Susie-Belle did. Renae joins them when she feels like it, but she doesn’t have the obvious need for the canine, physical comfort that puppy farm dogs more often do. It’s an interesting observation, that when a cuddle is wanted, Renae first seeks us out, but with Twinkle and Cerise, and until Susie-Belle’s last year, her too, they naturally find this comfort from their sisters. Not the humans in the house. Why would they when dogs have been their familiar for longer than humans?
We are walking twice every day, keeping to a set routine which helps Cerise to know what to expect in her day. She’s beginning to respond to a few light commands which are going to be important for her to master before I can think about letting her off lead. She’s itching to run with her sisters, and the long line allows a fair amount of freedom for her while keeping her safe. This morning for the first time she play bowed with Twinkle, who stood looking surprised! This is a great sign that she’s beginning to let herself feel some joy and fun. And something of course I can’t wait to see more of. All in good time, I know she’ll do it. A happy, relaxed and fun future’s beckoning her, and while it’s just out of her reach for now, she’s making good, solid paw-steps towards it each day. And we’re happy to be leading her on her journey, loving being a part of it.