My mom’s dog ,Suki, was pretty confused that first night after I left my mom in the hospital after her back surgery. Kevin and I walked into the door of my mother’s house and went to get Suki from my moms bedroom and she looked past me and Kevin in what I think was a search for her mom. My mom and Suki hadn’t been apart much in the four years that my mom had her. They were a set. So it didnt surprise me that Suki would spend much of that first evening in my moms home popping her head up at every small sound in hopes that maybe my mom would walk in the door.
I had no way of telling Suki her mom was ok and they would be together again soon. Well- in a few weeks after my mom got through recovering in a Rehab Hospital. I kept trying to sit quietly with Suki while sending her pictures in my head of what my mom was doing. I tried to settle her with my words of assurance but she didnt understand.
Suki was a rescue dog. My mom and step dad (who recently passed) fell in love with her on Petfinder. They had been looking for a corgi mix. It had be a few years since their chow corgi etc mix had passed and I knew my mom was missing having a dog. The time had to be right as both had health issues and the size of the dog needed to be manageable.
My mother ever the Anglophile had a soft spot for corgis ever since she saw the royals of England kept them as their breed of choice. So when they saw Suki (aka Foxy) online it was love at first site. She was the perfect size -about 15 lbs- and a good age -4- not too young not to old. So after a call to the rescue Foxy began her life as Suki -which means beloved in Japanese – with my mom and stepfather.
She looked part Corgi and we still wonder what else is in her though i am convinced there is terrier in her. She has an affinity for sticking her nose in small spaces and chasing my chickens and ducks. There may even be some chihuahua in there. We have talked about getting her DNA done. Maybe we will.
Suki came from another family where the owner got sick and couldn’t care for her anymore.So I wondered if the absence of my mom would be more upsetting for her because she had the loss of an owner in the past. I know I was putting my human feeling on her but that first night I know she was confused and distressed.
I am thankful that she knew Kevin and me because I think that may have helped her some during her time of distress. She finally settled down late in the night. In the morning she ran back to my moms room and jumped on the bed and looked at me. I decided to feed her in there but she didn’t eat much. I knew it would take some time for her to adjust to this new situation.
After breakfast we took off early to get back to the Maryland to get home before the blizzard that was on its way to dump a ton of snow on our farm. We put Suki in her crate in the back of SUV and off we went. Rudy my Golden Retriever -had also accompanied us to PA so he was some company for Suki when we were at the hospital and in the SUV driving back to Maryland.
Suki did well on the trip. She didn’t whine or pant. She seemed to take the ride as an adventure. Suki seemed to settle in quickly. She let my other dogs -all much bigger than she-know who was boss. She has this major growl – it sounds more lioness than tiny dog but it gets the point across very well.
The one thing I admire about dogs is their adaptability. They have such a way of dealing with change. Suki claimed our bed that first night as a safe spot and she curled up a began to snore -and she does snore. She got up in the morning to a giant blizzard but still managed to figure out a good spot to do her business. She didn’t cry or act upset that my mom wasn’t around. I was glad. It’s a thing dogs do for survival. I wish I was an ounce as adaptable.
She would sometimes stare wistfully out the window of my office. I suspect she was staring at all the birds because my feeders are just outside that window but I did wonder sometimes if she was thinking of my mom. She would perk up when a car came but that’s just dog curiosity -I think -but she was certainly cute staring out that window.
When I told my mom about how well Suki was settling in she was worried Suki might forget her. I assured her it would take more than a few weeks for her pup to forget her. But she still worried. They hadn’t been apart ever for this long. I told my mom this is Sukis big adventure.
Suki could easily be a farm dog except she may want to eat my chickens and ducks. She likes to chase them that’s for sure. The birds soon realized that the little fierce thing that was chasing them was on the other side of the fence so they have begun to become somewhat immune to her sudden moves.
Weve weathered a blizzard and we have had nice walks up the lane to meet the neighbors horses. There was a lot of growling by her at first glance at the horses. She was just feeling her shortness I think. We walked in the fields. She has gone to Tractor Supply where she was well received. Of course that’s Rudy’s favorite place and he knows if he sits nicely or puts his feet on the counter he’ll get a treat. Suki was a bit surprised that she would get a treat just for standing in line. She left with a new harness and some yummy canned food.
I have never had a small dog. I have had many dogs over the years and they have always weighed well over forty pounds. So having a little girl like Suki is new and it’s pretty cool. She does manage to take up more space in the bed between Kevin and I every night and sometimes I wake up and see her laying up next to Rudy at the foot of the bed. Sometimes I would wake squished and hanging half off the bed with Suki pushing at my back and Rudy laying in the path where my legs needed to be. I have no idea how I ever sleep at all. No wonder I’m so tired!
But small dogs are pretty cool. I have not gotten used to her in the fray with my other dogs though if they step wrong she tells them off. I know little dogs hang with the big guys all the time. It’s amazing that this 17 pound ball of fluff could be boss over the five big dogs but she has set her intentions.
One thing about little dogs is their portability. It’s been easy for me to take her places. She fits in any car even if it’s stuffed with junk. She would prefer to ride in my lap even if I’m driving so the passenger has to hold her or we put her in her crate for the ride.
We took Suki to visit my mother in law. Suki took to her right away and part of me thought how great she could be as a therapy dog. She’s the perfect size and perfect temperament. Well she can be a little tiny bit leery of men at first but that only lasts a minute then she is right up next to them asking for pets.
My mother in law said ” Tell your mom I really like her dog”. I think so – since no dog would ever be allowed to jump up on the couch mom Sweeney’s home and Suki took the liberty without any human correcting her. Suki decided my mother in law would be her friend. She just seems to have that ability to engage a person without being nudgie ( a thing i work on with Rudy all the time)It is amazing how dogs can brighten a persons day. It certainly seemed a good thing for my mother in law.
Years ago I did therapy dog work with my greyhound Jay jay Star – she was a natural- she was calm and her breed drew attention wherever we went so making our rounds in a nearby nursing home was an easy choice. She became quite popular with many of the residents. Of all the things I have ever done therapy dog visits were one of the most gratifying and heartbreaking all at the same time. I loved making people smile but I often got into the car and cried – nursing homes aren’t always the easiest places to visit. But for some reason I think I would like to do this work again someday. Being with Suki made me think about it a bit more.
Last week when we went to see my mom in the rehab hospital we were able to have my mom wheeled into the vestibule of the building to have a visit with Suki. It was a big moment because my mom was so fearful Suki would not remember her. I was pretty certain that she would remember and she didn’t disappoint.
She jumped up on my moms lap and it was clear she knew who she was. I think Suki was confused as to why my mom was at this place and not at her home and when we had to take my mom back into the building Suki was not happy. Kevin had to pick her up and put her back into the crate in our SUV because she kept trying to pull him back into the building. I felt badly about confusing her but I think the visit was good for my mom. She had been visited regularly by a few different therapy dogs while she was in rehab and by the way she spoke about the visits I know it was a highlight of her day – but not the same as having her own beloved dog next to her.
Suki’s visit with us is coming to an end this week. My mom has a discharge date from the rehab hospital. It will be time for both of them to get on with life together. I will miss her. She was an easy charge. She has been comforting in her littleness. But having six dogs here made me feel a bit outnumbered so it will be nice getting back to a more mangeable(?) five.
The last few weeks have been tough for my mom and it was often hard for me too as I couldn’t do anything to fix my mother in her discomfort. She had to get stronger and more mobile on her own with the help of her therapists. I am a fixer – a planner- I don’t like it when I can’t make things better. And as I learned – sometimes you have to stand back and let life happen and help where you can. In my case taking care of my moms dogs was a way I could help and Suki helped me feel less helpless in a difficult time–didn’t I tell you she would make a good therapy dog?