Hello, Georgia

I'll miss Indiana forever. I'm just getting to know Georgia. 

This is Georgia.

Here is what I know of her back story. Wiley's Wish, an animal rescue organization, saved Georgia, her mom, and her littermates from the kill list at a shelter when she was about 4 weeks old. A foster family took the whole group in, adopted the mom, and worked to find homes for the puppies. When Georgia (then called Ginger) didn't quickly find an adoptive home, Wiley's Wish placed her in the prison program with which they partner. Two incarcerated men worked to train her through qualifying for AKC good citizenship. At the very end of May, on my first real day of summer vacation, Georgia came home to us.

She's very, very smart. She's scared of getting into the car and of being alone. She gets along great with other dogs, walks well on the leash, loves her crate and digging for gophers in the park. Georgia and my youngest stepkid have fallen hard for each other, even though Georgia's saliva—so many puppy kisses!—gives my stepkid hives. Half German Shepherd and half Catahoula, she's 9 months old and 75lbs already and she might grow more. 

In the month that Georgia has lived with us, we have lost a down comforter to her anxiety and, because she needs to move so much and gets multiple walks each day, gotten to know our neighbors better. Our wood floors have more scratches. When we first got her, she struggled from isolation distress, but she's already getting better about that. She's growing more confident. Trimming her toenails though? Getting her in the car? Those things are currently not fun and barely possible. We'll get there though.

Sometimes Georgia will do something, like her weird greeting grin, and I don't know what it means at first. I know she's communicating with me, but I'm not receiving her message. After living with Indy for so long, it felt like I could read his mind and know how to provide what he wanted and needed. Right now, there is a distance between me and Georgia as we are learning each other and how to talk to each other. She's obedient, good to people and dogs, and listens to what we tell her, but we haven't fallen into that rhythm yet in which we become a team, able to predict each other's wants.

I think about the relationships I've had with horses, dogs, and cats, and all but one (Reggie, the king of cats) took years to build. It took a long time for me and Dude to become not just a horse and a rider, but a animals that wanted to do our best for each other, a true team. It took years before the comfort of his new life wore away the terrors of Indiana's past and we could begin to read each other's minds. It's easy to forget how hard it was at the beginning of our time together. But I think about all the things Indiana and I experienced together to help us learn each other: playing fetch under satellite telescopes and swimming in a lake at a private compound above Napa, dog fights in which we both were terrified, scrambling along mountain and ocean trails, all the big moves. Living with and communicating with Indy became so easy it was second nature at the end.

This morning, Georgia and I took one of our daily walks through the park before it got too hot. We saw our neighbor Mike and his dog Zeba, and Georgia ran up to Mike to sit for the bountiful treats he bestows upon her. After passing them, Georgia went into full play mode, pouncing on gopher holes and jumping into the brush before calming down to a heel again. We passed other neighbors and dogs. Some dogs she greeted politely but shyly; others, even those she towered over, she slinked away from. We stuck to the shade as much as possible, in which Georgia prefers a lovely, elastic slow trot over a walk. When we had to be in the sun, her trot melted to a walk and she'd swerve towards the shade. Towards the end of the loop, we passed a big field with the sprinklers running, two figures huddled underneath. Hawks. We walked closer to take a look, and Georgia sat next to me as the both of us stared at the big birds, dripping with water, occasionally stretching their wings, but mostly just sitting there, content in the sprinklers. 

Today's walk is distinct to me and Georgia. It already has entered our database of each other as we build our shared language.


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