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 wasn’t adapting 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 gate, 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 became the happiest and most loving dog with this bond between us. At her peak, she would effortlessly traverse eighteen mile runs as we’d explore new trails together. 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.
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The formidable bond we’d developed changed, even with the loss of running our bond grew even stronger. She could sense I was in distress. She started paying close attention to my symptoms. I just figured she was doing what many other dogs do, sense illness, and give us that extra loving care.
Little did I know, all of her watching and studying me was being 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 would arise, she keyed in and would turn her head and make eye contact with me as she continued to walk. I had no break of pace or subtle leash tug, it was her listening to the subtlest of breathing rate change. The most incredible part that Safire has self-taught, came next. One visual effect of my symptoms is my eyes twitch when my blood pressure crashes down. To my surprise and joy, each time she sees this in my eyes, she immediately turns and presses her body against my leg firmly. She braces me up and allows me to use her back for stability to stand or gently let myself to the ground safely. No formal training, no training for this by me, just Safire and our bond.
Justifiably, we all find remarkable traits in our four-legged loved ones, but this is something I find 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!