Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Renewed Friendship

This photo was taken 4 years ago. Viva hadn't joined the family yet, and Kenzo was still an adolescent.

On it are our youngest grand-daughter, Lucia, only 1 year old, and her mother.

It made me happy Lucia was growing up with "a dog". I hoped, it would become a just as important and large part of her life, as it was for me, growing up with the dogs of my own childhood.

It was not allowed to last, it seemed.

Her parents, witnessing several incidents with other dogs, although not involving Lucia, became mistrustful of dogs in general. Including Kenzo. The blooming friendship between him and Lucia, was abruptly canceled.

You might not expect this, but I thought their newly found distrust wasn't a bad thing at all. Even if it meant I had to keep Kenzo - and later Viva - physically separated from them and Lucia, I had to give them their own time to learn and get to know how to let kids and dogs safely interact.

They asked me for guarantees, which I never gave. But I offered help and repeated what I always felt was best. Never leave them alone together, supervise each interaction, and teach (y)our child how to interact with dogs.

Time passed in a status-quo, until Viva, with her outgoing nature as a cuddle bear and her calmness, was the first to de-ice them. She was a great help in teaching Lucia that a dog is not a toy, but a living creature with its own personality.

It made me sad that Kenzo, unlike Viva, was still looked upon with distrust, as they thought he was dangerous, with all his barking and guarding. They never understood, he was merely protecting them too, as he did for the rest of his family. I never shared my sadness with them before now, as I realized they needed to find their own way.

Lucia in the mean time became fascinated of Kenzo and Viva. Both became equally important to her, and one of the main reasons why she enjoyed her visits. Even when she could only see Kenzo from a distance behind a baby-gate, or gaze in awe at him during a walk.

Slowly, step-by-step, Lucia's parents learned to appreciate Kenzo more, by small "incidents" like the next. I remember how Kenzo once sneaked up behind Lucia, when the baby-gate was left open by mistake. She felt someone was sniffing the back of her head, and when she turned around, stood nose to nose with Kenzo. She put both hands in front of her eyes - an inventive response to what we told her never to stare a dog directly in the face - and said "Hi Kenzo!". Kenzo licked her face, and settled down right in front of her. I could see how everybody exhaled, and Kenzo just earned a new installment to his "trust"-fund.

When Viva passed, they witnessed the unexpected impact it had on Lucia, now 5 years old, and realized what an important part in her young life, Kenzo and Viva already had become. I was grateful to see how they allowed Kenzo to step in, and support Lucia in her grief over Viva. Words were not spoken, but I knew this was the moment, Kenzo was granted the benefit of the doubt.

No need to tell you, it went very well, and a friendship was renewed in the blink of eye.

And so I leave you with this recent photo of Kenzo and Lucia playing.

It warms my heart, all our hearts, seeing those two finally together again. I say it with a huge sigh of relief too, that patience finally paid off and ensured all involved felt comfortable with the situation.

Lucia makes me proud when I see how she interacts with Kenzo. As we taught her, she waits for Kenzo to initiate contact and doesn't impose herself on him.

Most of all I am thrilled on Lucia's behalf, to experience the blessing of a dog's companionship while growing up, receiving unconditional love, learning empathy, responsibility, respect and understanding of animals.





9 comments:

  1. Congratulations on this milestone. Must be very significant to have all family members trust and appreciate each other. You're blessed with wisdom and patience and some beautiful dogs to achieve this. Well deserved.
    Your story also raises my hopes that some trust issues between family members and Boef will improve over time when the little boy grows older and our kids learn to understand him better.

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    1. Thank you Bernard, I am glad it finally did paid off, many times along the way, I was not so hopeful it would ever work out. One of the main challenges was also Kenzo himself, as continually being ignored neither helped him to be interested in the relationship. Thankfully we made it through, and best of luck for you and yours, in regaining some of the trust. I am glad the story raised your hopes for a good outcome and hope for a good outcome, rather sooner than later.

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  2. Love this story. Dogs can do so much for children. I'm sure having Lucia around helps everyone with their grief, including Kenzo.

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    1. They are a joy-spreading couple, Roxanne :)

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  3. What a great ending to the story. I fear my feelings would have been hurt initially, but I'm glad you didn't feel that way. You did exactly the right thing -- respect the family's decisions and be ready when they were ready. Brava!

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    1. Thanks Laurie. To be absolutely honest I was hurt a lot, but happy now, I bit my tongue :)

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  4. I'm glad you gave them time. They'll come completely around soon and Lucia will grow up enjoying dogs the right way.

    Monty and Harlow

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  5. Awesome, you did it. It needs patience and trust definitely to establish a good relation either it is between two people or people and pets.This all needs love and care and sometimes compromises as well. You know it all. Congrats on the achievement.

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  6. They say that dogs are very protective about (human)babies.. they treat them as their own and the fact that at one point of time Kenzo and Lucia were kept apart was a bit disturbing and but it felt good to find out that the broken trust was renewed :D

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