They say the bond between a dog and its owner is immeasurable. My life- long experience as a dog owner has proven this to be true over and over. If you’re lucky, you may be fortunate enough to experience a relationship with a four-legged friend that surpasses your wildest expectations. Here, I’ll share such an experience.
About two years ago, six-year-old Safire and I were united by Nor-Cal Weimaraner Rescue. When we first met, she was a bit apprehensive about this new guy, so our bonding was slow to start. She was very careful not to open her heart too quickly as she adjusted to her new home, not wanting it to be hurt again.
After a few weeks of routine walks for exercise and learning how to relax on a leash, she still hadn't adapted very well. It was easy to see the good in her, but she was keeping herself isolated with trust issues. I was a trail runner and decided to try running with her, even though her leash work wasn’t going very well. Within the first mile, I knew she was a natural. Her gait, form and posture flowed with a strong, yet relaxed look. A calmness possessed her as she perfectly paced right at my side. JOY, for us both!!
Over the next year, our bond grew exponentially with every run. This became our thing, trail running; she was the happiest and most loving dog with this bond between us. At her peak, she would effortlessly traverse 18 mile runs as we explored new trails together.
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Then, overnight, our runs came to a screeching halt. A physically disabling disease limited me to very short walks. Safire and I were devastated; losing our inspiring runs together was a huge change.
The formidable bond we’d developed grew even stronger. She could sense I was in distress. She started paying close attention to my symptoms. I figured she was doing what many dogs do: sense illness and give us that extra loving care.
Little did I know, all of her watching and studying me had developed into something amazing. As the number of our walks mounted, I noticed she was keeping tabs and beginning to aid me.
She was listening to my breathing, ever so closely. I didn’t even realize the change in my pattern, but as my symptoms arose, she keyed in on me, turning her head and making eye contact with me as she continued to walk. There was no break of pace or subtle leash tug from me; it was her listening to the subtlest of breathing rate change.
The most incredible part, which Safire had self-taught, came next. One of my symptoms is that my eyes twitch when my blood pressure crashes. To my surprise and joy, each time she sees this, she immediately turns and presses her body firmly against my leg. She braces me up and allows me to use her back for stability to stand or to safely and gently lower myself to the ground. No formal training, no training by me, just Safire and our bond.
Justifiably, we all find remarkable traits in our four-legged loved ones, but this is something I consider to be on another level. I rescued “Saffie” to take care of her and now, she is rescuing me in my time of need. I still venture out for short walks with the confidence of having my hero at my side: Safire!