When you get to know a dog that has...issues, it takes a lot of consistent work to gain his trust. A dog with a past that has taught him that not all people or dogs are good can take time to allow you into his pack.
Bart didn't have an easy beginning. He was allowed to roam our mountains. We know bikes and boys on anything that moves too fast can send him into a meltdown. We have witnessed him hiding from big dogs and yet watched him charge a coyote. He is wary of many people...never getting too close.
It's been an interesting year watching Bart integrate into our pack at the creek. He often stays on the fringes. Or he will dart into a dog pile and just as quickly disappear over a ridge to just watch. And always, he follows his mom to the car. He may disappear often while hiking...but he's not one to miss the bus home!
I've often begged him to stay with Mabel and me. He seems to understand. He seems torn, wanting to stay and play but in the end, dashing after his mom.
But all spring, his mom has been nursing a torn meniscus and Mabel and I have been his walking companions. All the humans at the creek have noticed how Bart comes around for scritches and he plays with the pack more often than before.
But yesterday, the breakthrough arrived with barely a whimper. Bart's mom had to leave. She started home knowing he would follow. Only, another 40 yards downstream, we realized Bart was still with our hiking pack! We phoned his mom...Don't worry, we'll get him home. He hiked, he swam, he played, he begged for cookies... he did everything the other dogs do.
And when we went to leave, he didn't even seem puzzled that he had arrived in one car and was going home in another. We are his pack. He knows we will take care of him.