Last year when Lila first came to live with us, thunderstorms didn’t bother her. She sat outside on the front porch and watched the lightning, and felt the earth rumble without one shake of a leg or turn of an ear. Lila just sat and watched the rain as it poured down ready to be soaked up into the ground or to join the creek at the end of our street.
Now this spring when we started to hear the rumblings of our first thunderstorm of the season, Lila panted and paced about the house as if she couldn’t decide if she was supposed to go somewhere. Every time my husband made a move, Lila would be right there, on his heels panting.
“It’s okay, girl,” he would say. She sat by his side as he petted her ear trying to make her feel better.
When it was time to go to bed, Lila was right on my husband’s heels again even though she never sleeps with us. We thought she was one who wasn’t bothered by the storms and we couldn’t figure out what happened. What changed? We thought it was so cool last year when she didn’t even flinch at the booming thunder.
The next day I joked to my friend about how Lila had changed, that she was not the dog that we thought she was and that she had made a complete change when it came to thunderstorms.
“Maybe she’s used to you now. Maybe she was worried about you,” she said.
I smiled a very big smile. I was surprised that what seemed like a courageous dog was just scared now because she actually cares about us. It was just another way that I realized that Lila figured out that she is a part of our family even though it took her a very long time to do so.
When Lila had been living with us for a few months, I thought that there was something wrong with her. Lila didn’t show the signs of love that dogs usually show when they become part of a pack. I looked into her brown eyes, and they seemed like they were not connecting with me. Her eyes looked cold. She sometimes barked and snapped at us like she wanted to be in charge. I didn’t think that she knew how to wag her tail to show happiness at seeing us after being away for just a few minutes or for a long time.
It seemed like she was just as happy to see any human who was at the dog park as she was to see me or any other members of her pack. Everyone thought she was so friendly, but I just thought she didn’t know how to love us yet, and I wondered if she ever would. There were times when I called her name at the dog park, and she didn’t come to me, and that made me very nervous.
Then one day she barked from our front steps when she saw me coming home, and that’s when I knew she got it. The closer I got to her, the faster her tail wagged. She was really happy to see me, and I was so happy to be seen.
I also noticed that she stopped running after all the humans at the dog park to try to get their attention. She played with and greeted other dogs, and then she made sure that she walked with me. When I called her name, she came to me. Now she listens. She figured it out. Now I know that there’s not anything the matter with her at all. She was just trying to see if we were going to keep her here. And we are keeping her here, and she’s here to stay, big fur piles flying across the kitchen floor and all the other stuff that goes with a dog who figured out she’s finally home.