Monday, February 25, 2008


I'm coming to terms with the idea of Sleek leaving. Of course, when I knew she would probably leave before I did, and probably before Fluff did, too.

I spend some time thinking about what this experience of loving and losing Sleek brings to me. First I've been thinking about what knowing Sleek herself has brought to me. She has taught me a lot about self-possession. She is who she is, she knows who she is, and she's very comfortable with that. Fluff and I can learn a lot from Sleek on that front!

Her self-possession is a big part of Sleek's beauty, and she is a beautiful dog. OMG, when she was younger and hunting in an open field! Watching her move across that field brought shivers to my spine. She would glide across, much like a coyote or wolf would. Her back would barely move up and down she was so smooth. Sleek was so in to her hunting. It was a huge part of who she was. She still hunts some, but the body can no longer deliver that effortless movement.

Sleek has taught me a lot about graceful aging. She doesn't seem to miss the sustained hunting much. She'll poke around holes in the ground, maybe dig a little, and she will increase her pace if she sees a rabbit or squirrel, but I never see her doing anything that looks like she's cursing her body for no longer being able to catch rabbits or squirrels. The dog who once dislocated her sister's ribs simply because Fluff was standing between Sleek and where the ball was thrown, now barely trots after the ball. I think I miss Sleek's former physical prowess more than she does. I definitely miss the selective deafness as opposed to the current involuntary deafness. Before I had a chance that she would choose to hear me eventually, but that's not so much of an option for her anymore.

I've also learned about acceptance. Even as Sleek accepts aging and her impending transition, so I had to learn to accept that Sleek was a) not like Fluff when it came time to do some training; and b) not like a typical Malinois. Fluff loves training. She loves the bonding of it and the chance to see how quickly she can figure out what I want. Sleek is a lot more wary of training. I say that Fluff is a child of suburbia with a love for rules and predictability. Sleek is a child of the country. She'd rather run loose and make her own rules. Sleek hates, though, having people she loves upset with her. Unfortunately for training regimes, she thinks being asked to do things more than 2 or 3 times means she is doing them wrong; therefore, I must be getting upset or close to getting upset. Sleek shuts down into her default mode: "When in doubt, sit. No one yells at a sitting dog." Eventually I learned and accepted that Sleek was not going to be a competition dog with me.

Sleek and I came to some agreements on a few things that are important to me. She may have thought some or all of them were bad ideas at times, but she has acceded. First, she and Fluff must get along. I will not deal with bitch fights where the combatants must be kept separated at all times lest they, for real, try to kill one another. I told Sleek very soon after she joined us that should the two of them begin to fight that way, Sleek would be the one looking for a new home, no matter what. Second, she may not jump the fence and go cat hunting/killing. She did that once. I chased her (after I put clothes I could jump the fence in on), caught up with her, and read her the riot act the whole way home (around the block, not back over the fence). She was devastated for 3 days (would not look at me, tried to avoid being noticed) but never went over the fence after a cat again. Third, Sleek is supposed to stay off the furniture unless invited. We came to an agreement where she stays off when I'm home and gets on when I'm not.

Sleek's passing also brings up a lot of stuff for me, but I'll cover that another day.

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