This morning as I stretched and yawned, the dogs did their usually loll around the bed with me. It is our customary routine, at least on days that we haven't slept too long and have to jump. It's a great way to wake slowly and gently.
The pups take turns .... or more correctly, each vies for his/her turn to be the one closest to me, the one under my hand for the morning massage, the one to get to give my hand a lick of love. It's a glorious time for all of us. They love this lazy time, a few minutes of pure loving laziness. I do, too.
As we did our love fest, the extended one we all enjoy on weekends, I noticed Sammy. He sort of waited until everyone had a turn, then he gradually slid in and just melted to my side with his chin on my hip. Sam loves to rest his chin like that, on me, on his siblings, on a shoe, on a pillow. I began to rub his neck and shoulders, and he relaxed and was soon snoring the sweet little snore that is Sam's signature.
It occurred to me that this little guy has come so far. I know I've said this before, but I am aware again because of the new progress. Let me explain a bit of the background, in case you don't know it.
Sam was the first of my five rescues. He probably came out of a puppy mill and was very damaged, emotionally. He was terribly afraid. Of everything. He trusted me a little at a time, but was so scared that I had to move slowly and carefully. If I stood up to quickly, he ran with terror in his eyes or lost control of his bowels. Or both. If I made a noise, rattled the newspaper as I turned a page or cleared my throat, same thing. And a new person in the house? OMG, it was terror time for sure.
At the same time, he was full of love and so appreciative of attention. I figure he was starved for affection before. He would never approach me, or not if I was looking anyway. Occasionally I would realize he had crept close to my feet, but not often at the beginning.
Over time Sam has become more self assured. He is still shy with strangers, but they are strangers only for a few minutes now. Within a few minutes he now creeps out of his hiding nook and sneaks close to a visitor so they can scratch his head. He is still cautious, but he is learning that all people aren't to be feared. He is still convincing himself of it, but it is coming along.
What has occurred to me is that in all this time, almost four years, my Sam has never been one to put himself close to me for petting and attention or even just to nap beside me. The other four will each find a way to be on my lap or on the back of the couch by my shoulder or on the floor by or between my feet. I often have four around me, one on each side, one at my feet and the other on my shoulder or in my lap. Sam will be several feet away, napping on the floor. I don't think he is unhappy. He was never used to lavish attention. I don't think he even knows he can have it.
A few months ago, I began calling Sammy over to me and lifting him to my lap, beside me, whatever. I've made sure he gets at least as much individual attention and affectionate strokes as the others. He wasn't asking or demanding, so I just began to push it on him, making sure he got his share. Today, I realized that, while he still isn't aggressive about it, Sam is getting his share, some of it on him own volition! Several times in the past few days Sam has come to me for attention/affection. Just a few minutes ago, as I was writing this, he came to the couch and put his front paws on the seat next to me. He simply looked at me for a few seconds, then put one paw on my leg. I petted his head a few strokes, then lifted him to my lap, and he melted!
He is such an endearing little guy. His poodle face with the Shih Tzu underbite makes him unique and comical. He loves his siblings. Well, he and Max and a love/hate relationship, but boys will be boys. He's just a sweetie. I'm so glad he is still making progress toward being comfortable in his skin and in a world of two leggers. My heart is happy, and I think his is, too. :)