Tuesday, September 20, 2011
Rubi's Gotcha Day was September 18th. This is the anniversary of when I signed Rubi's paperwork, and she officially became mine until death do us part. The tradition of the "Gotcha Day" started with families that adopted children. An adopted child's birth may not have been attended by any of his or her adoptive family, and depending on circumstance, the date of the child's birth might not even be known. The book Primary Care Pediatrics encourages families to commemorate the anniversary of their child's homecoming as a way that celebrates the family, its strengths, and its bonds: "'Gotcha Day' is distinguished from the day of birth, perhaps marking the rupture of the child's biological family and her social rebirth into an adopted family."
We celebrated Rubi's rebirth by attending her second Dog Safety Program. This one was at the Eagan Community Center with a group of about seven little girls and their parents. To start, Rubi acted exactly like a dog whose never gone anywhere ever. Which, in her defense, she pretty much is. One year of regular socialization doesn't make up for five years of almost nothing. We've got a long road ahead of us to turn B into a seasoned presenter, but - God willing - we've got time. B showed of her green-ness before we even got started by trying to mob one of the little girls, probably so she could stand on the girl and drown her in dog spit.
I pulled B back to her mat and gave her a firm lecture on why it's bad to scare little girls. It worked. I have no idea how it works, but B didn't try to jump on anyone else. Well, until the end when she piled on top of a dad, but he was asking for it. Otherwise, B was pretty well mannered. Vibrating with enthusiasm, yes, but she listened to what I had to say, and didn't do anything more upsetting than pass a bit of gas.
One of the things we need to work on - other than the difference between shake and down - is getting B to interact more with the kids. She was so focused on me that I think the girls missed out on some of the fun that is hanging out with Rubi. One of the other handlers brings a spoon with peanut butter on it for the kids to reward her dog with. I like this idea, but I worry that Rubi would just bulldoze the child and steal the peanut butter stick.
All in all, Rubi had a grand time celebrating her rebirth. Of course, Rubi has a grand time just sitting at home being alive. My relationship with each of my dogs is subtly different. Piper Ann is my partner. Allister is my cheerleader. Maus is my shadow. The notion of Rubi being any of these seems rather silly to me; it would be like befriending a river. We may dam the river, build bridges, create lakes, but Rubi and the water are both forces of nature. Controlled, for the most part, but still wild at heart. Rubi is a four legged adventure. Everyday a new joy, a new challenge, a new experience. I am so very lucky to be along for the ride.
(This pictures on this blog post were captured by the talented and wonderful Paige Reyes. Our sincerest thanks, Paige.)