And I think I’ve told her story before, but since I’ve been so bad at updating and I’ve been feeling so sentimental lately I’m going to tell it again as penance.
It hasn’t always been easy for Maisy and I to find our groove. When she came into my life, I had recently lost a really amazing dog, what the kids these days sometimes call a “heart dog” or what one of my neighbors calls “the great ones.” Her name was Roxy and she was a rottweiler/GSD mix.
In retrospect, I started scouring Petfinder too soon after losing her. My heart was broken and although not aware of it at the time I think subconsciously I was desperately looking for Roxy V2.0. One by one I met all the rottweiler mixes I could find; Maisy was the last because her name at her foster was Roxie and I’d been avoiding her. But when we finally met her, she was so incredibly sweet and cuddly and got along along so famously with our cats and with Pip (who was our only other dog at the time) that with a name change everything seemed perfect.
Except as it turned out, this little hound was definitely nothing like Roxy.
We struggled in obedience classes because she was incredibly distractible and obsessed with the other dogs. We struggled on walks because I could not for the life of me teach her not to pull on a leash. Frustrated, I thought she was stubborn; I’m sure she was overwhelmed and confused.
So. There we were.
But as it turns out, while she wasn’t what I was expecting Maisy has turned out to be one of the most important dogs in my life. She has taught me more about dogs than any dog I’d had before. I learned that rather than being stubborn she can be incredibly soft and difficult to motivate, plus she disengages easily when she feels pressured or stressed. I learned about thresholds and attention games and how to build her confidence. I learned to adapt and adjust my expectations, and most importantly I learned how to work with the Maisy in front of me instead of the Maisy in my head. Slowly but surely, we “got” each other.
After we learned how to work with each other, I dabbled in several different activities with her but nothing really stuck until Squash came home.
Squash was the reason I got involved in dryland and skijoring in the first place, but when he was a wee lad just starting out on training walks he had very little interest in getting and staying out front. One day I randomly wondered if walking him with Maisy might help because she is such an incorrigible puller.
It was a smashing success. Honestly, without Maisy’s help I truly don’t know if I would have continued mushing. She has incredible natural talent, drive, and focus. She keeps Squash on the trail and has been invaluable in helping me train Toast. Many of the things she does (like the Maisy Bump, where she body blocks Squash from going off trail) I never taught her at all. She just… does them.
I don’t know how much longer she’ll be running. The good news is that despite some gray hairs and surgery for a torn cruciate ligament almost two years ago now, she doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. She still dances with joy at the back gate when it’s time to go load up, she still runs her heart out, and she’s still sad if she’s left behind. So hopefully for many more runs to come.
Not so very bad for a little houndy thing. Not bad at all. Happy birthday, my sweetest old lady, helper, and teacher. A very happy birthday to you.