Miss Gioia

Friday, March 2, 2007

Dogs Don't Like Hugs

Around two years ago, Chris and I saw an article that stated pretty unequivocally that dogs do not like hugs (not the same article, but similar). We looked at each other almost simultaneously and said... Mmmm really?

We adopted Frankie from the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society in December 2003, three days after we bought a new house and one month before we got married. Frankie came into our lives like a tornado. He looked like Gollum – ribs sticking out everywhere because he was 20 pounds lighter than his normal weight of 65. He was anxious and scared. We thought he was deaf for almost a week because he would not focus on our words at all, too frightened to respond to audible cues.

In the first six months of the Frankie-era, things were difficult. He tore up our house when we were not home. When confined, he pushed the crate from one side of a room to another. Once we came home to find the crate (and him) perched precariously at the top of the stairs. I got several calls at work from my husband saying “Guess what your &%$@ dog just did!? I knew it must have been bad, whatever it was, because Chris hardly ever swears.

In this early time, Frankie really didn't like hugs. Here is a picture of me trying to hug him in the first week; clearly he was not really enjoying it.

But you know what? It got better. Slowly, almost without us knowing it, everyone relaxed. Frankie grew to trust us, grew into us, and now he is so unbelievably lovable. Last week, I reached down from the couch to hug him, and he snuggled right up to me, leaning into my side. If you stay with us, he will sneak into your bedroom and silently beg you to let him come snuggle. He is a bit of a slut, our puppy, wanting to sleep with everyone.

I have been thinking about Frankie's journey towards feeling secure a lot this week, primarily because I have also been reading about another family's journey to pick up their newly adopted child here in China. The first few days seem to have been very hard. The child is mourning the loss of her only known existence, her ayis, her home. We all know this is normal. During our homestudy visit last spring, the social worker warned us about how hard the transition will be. But does knowing it is normal help you to get through more easily?

Am I comparing our adoption-to-be to my dog's homecoming? Well, yes and no. Now don't get your knickers in a twist; I do know that the first few months with our daughter will be infinitely different – both harder and more wonderful – than the Frankie transition. But I think that our experience with Frankie can maybe offer some hope that things will get easier, better and we will become a family. We will all just need some time. And that is OK.

For the record, Frankie does indeed like hugs.

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Blogger Johnny said...

I use dogs/kids analogy (in my mind all the time). It's true, they both have sophisticated feelings and are dependent on us for all their needs.

There's another PW protected blog in which their daughter, well taken care of in foster care, is VERY aware of changes since the handover. She was so bonded to her foster mother it's heartbreaking...even more than AmFam!

March 2, 2007 7:42 PM  

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