Today was the first day back to work after our annual spring break week off. We stayed home this year to be with Toby and to rest and to let life settle around us for a bit. Walt was sick. I worked on my book. Every day Toby got more attention than he's had since we first got him.
He's sleeping regular and relatively long hours these days. He minds his mouth much better. Leash walks no longer threaten to dislocate my shoulder. He's growing up and turning into the sweet boy I thought we were getting with a Golden and wondered about my judgment for the first two months we had him.
He's still no angel by any means, as you can see here. I shot this picture through our dining room window.
The week home with him was fun and lovely. I've taught him to say, "Please!" to get a treat. It's really a bear-like growl that rolls out of his mouth like music. No barking is allowed. The cool thing is that now he does it for everything he wants. That sound makes me laugh every single time I hear it.
So far so good.
I assumed all of that wonderful grown up dog behavior was because of all the attention and time he was getting. I was really worried about today. Both Walt and I had after-school things so Toby's day home alone was almost ten hours long. I felt guilty all day - or at least during those moments when my twenty-two human darlings weren't consuming my attention and energy.
Driving home tonight I anticipated torn chair cushions, dug-to-China craters in the lawn, huge clots of mud on the windows from his feet. I considered that I might find dead cats, Toby seriously hurt from trying to dig under the fence, or really angry neighbors from having to listen to him bark all day. Even if nothing was wrong, I knew without a doubt I would be met by a maniac mutt with more energy than could be contained without some serious discipline.
What I came home to was a calm dog who was happy to see me. He smiled and wiggled and wagged. He consumed all of his dinner, played tug, and gently mauled my arm. He chased one of the cats without any regard for the fact that I was standing right next to him with a leash ready to walk - the thing he loves more than almost anything else. I was almost relieved at this behavior that usually sends me over the edge because it was so familiar. When we went for our walk he didn't pull on the leash once. In fact it was slack so often I kept checking to see if he was hurt somehow.
I'm feeling a bit confused tonight.
All systems are working fine. He's so calm. And so happy. And so sweet. Why is it so hard to just accept that he's turned a corner and to be deeply grateful for the change? I am grateful. Truly. I'm just afraid that something's wrong. I recognize a life's pattern here. The waiting-for-the-other-shoe-to-drop pattern. I'm tired of it. I think I'll go snuggle with the tremendous gift that is our Toby and try to enjoy what is.