Eli – 04/05/23

Fourth of July retraumatized Eli (formerly Metro) and I started having problems with the neighbors again because of his barking, and I figured the HOA board would flip out if I brought a second dog home, of any size, let alone a Mal. In retrospect I’ve realized it probably took him 7-8 weeks to get over the 4th.

New Year’s Eve was hard for him too, even though there were only a couple of booms. He recovered after a week or two, which seems like a big improvement.
But what I wanted to let you all know is how fantastic he’s been doing since then. He’s started initiating play with other dogs, and will even keep at it for a minute or two. The fakeout/spin away is his favorite move. He approaches other people and will often let them pet him. A couple of times he’s reached his muzzle up into someone’s face. He’s calm with little kids. He used to move behind me if anyone held out their hand to him. He’s been able to completely relax when we visit my parents, and he used to stay really agitated the whole time we were there. He’s startled by fewer external noises, and instead of running to the door and barking, if he reacts at all he just lifts his head and wuffs once. He stole half a cookie off the kitchen counter, and I was just thrilled that he felt safe enough to do that. It’s happened once in 18 months. (No chocolate, I never leave that in reach.)
It doesn’t seem like much when I read through it, but it feels huge for him.
It’s funny – I chose him because of something in his eyes and I never realized how striking he is. But everyone else sure notices. I’ve had passengers yell at us out of car windows, drivers slow down, someone opened a third floor office window — all to tell me how beautiful he is, how much they love my dog. Pretty much everyone we pass remarks on it. The whole neighborhood knows us, although I doubt they’d know me on my own. The bus drivers wave. So many people want to talk to me about my dog.
If the conversation goes on, he just sits down and waits patiently. If he’s extra excited to get his harness on, he sits down. Sometimes I can’t quite believe what a good dog he is. If I want to turn around before he’s ready he also just sits down, quite calmly. Which is a bit odd, but very clear communication. I know everyone thinks this about their dog, but it sure feels like he understands complete sentences and responds to them.
I know I’m rambling on, but he’s just so amazing. The other day he was sitting out on the deck, the afternoon sun on his back, the wind blowing all those good smells right into his face and he looked so happy… It brought tears to my eyes, and that’s unusual for me. So I wanted to let you know.