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By: Jan Rifkinson
Date: Nov 24 1999


Sabrina's Thanksgiving
November 1999

Nov 1, last year we adopted Sabrina thanks to Carol Rauch & Sallie Cosgrove.  When we celebrated Thanksgiving 22 days later that year, Sabrina was a scared little girl.

A year has passed & as Thanksgiving is here again, I began to think about Sabrina's first year with us.

Her CERF exam was normal. Her heart tested good. Her hips seem ok, though not perfect. She has put on weight -- probably too much. 

Sabrina is still almost deaf but has developed a case of selective vision just as some hearing Bouvs have selective hearing.  You know the routine.  You say something benign like "sit" & your Bouv looks @ you with a blank expression, then looks around to see who you are talking to, then gets up & wanders off on some mysterious mission.

Over the past year Sabrina has learned to look @ me or Truman for instruction.  Is it ok to continue barking? Are you still there?  Do you want me to "come"?  But there are times when I signal a 'sit' or 'down" & the little devil will turn her head so as not to "see" the command.  I smile @ her Bouvness and then make sure she "sees" what I want. 

Over the past year, Sabrina has learned that she really does have a place in our family.  When Truman tries to muscle her out of "skritchy" range, she now maneuvers herself within arm's distance & stays for "skritchies". When Truman gets a treat, she promptly approaches for hers. And she argues for recognition when I return home & Truman is trying to hog my attention.

Dessert time is sweet.  Truman always rcvd one or two licks of ice cream when we were having ours & he got to lick the plate or stick when we were done.  Now Truman & Sabrina share equally.  He gets nothing until the two of them are sitting side by side -- he gets a lick or two, she gets the same.  They understand the process & stop licking momentarily when their turn is over.  Back & forth until nothing is left.

While none of this seems like much, it took almost a year to convince Sabrina that she was as entitled to these perks as Truman is. I'm grateful that she now knows it.

"No's" were reserved only for important things this past year. As a result, Sabrina is now spoiled but  wags her stump of a tail sometimes. She was so shy when she came to us.

Because Sabrina is deaf, she sleeps like the dead. Once situated, she flops over & starts snoring.  I've had to get used to this, this past year. 

Last November, Sabrina growled @ everyone under any conditions, anywhere.  No stranger could touch her, no stranger could entice her with a treat.  It's not that she bit, she simply moved out of range. Her front leg quivered nervously, sometimes she urinated in fright. I'm happy to say that most of this behavior has abated.  She is still a bit anxious, doesn't warm up to strangers in a flash but doesn't growl constantly either & does go in close for a quick sniff or two. She has, on the rare occasion, even allowed a stranger's pat.

It is, of course, axiomatic that an animal that has lost one sense is going to be more highly developed in others.  All dogs have fantastically sensitive noses, thousands of times more sensitive than our own -- no matter the size.  And of course, dogs use their noses to a point of disgusting humans sometimes.  But we have now gone through a spring and summer with Sabrina & we now know that she takes a moment or two to smell flowers.  We have several perennial gardens on our property & quite frequently, one can find Sabrina gingerly leaning in to get a whiff of a newly arrived blossom or two a few rows back.

A year ago when I left a room Sabrina followed.  If she couldn't join me in the next room, she cried, moaned, scratched & barked to be let in. I couldn't go to the bathroom alone.  Slowly I weaned her from her insecurity.  We practiced "returning".  First I waved bye-bye & closed the bathroom door, shutting her out. A moment later, I opened it & gave her a hug.  Then I lengthened the time, then went outside, then went into the garage, then off the property, outside the gate. Each time I returned & gave her a hug.

A year later Sabrina still follows me from room to room, sleeps with me, watches me take a shower.  But, if for some reason, she doesn't hear me move from one room to another & wakes up to find that I'm not with her, she doesn't panic.  She knows I'm nearby because I always wave bye-bye when I leave her.

And not too long ago, Sabrina gave me a kiss for the first time.  So, along with a bunch of other things like Carol, health, friends, home, Truman, & Sam, I'm grateful that I got a little kiss from a sweet girl, the runt of the litter, who is finally coming into her own.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

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