It was a bittersweet moment.
I asked, “Where is Phoebe?”
“She is with you.”
“No. I thought she was with you.”
Smack! It was instant anxiety.
The last known sighting had been about an hour prior. Did she sneak out the front door? Did I leave the back gate open? Had I accidentally locked her in a room?
I checked the rooms at the end of the hall, and then headed to the front door. As I put my hand on the knob, I heard a scratching noise. I turned, and saw Phoebe curled up on a chair in the living room (not one of her regular domains). She looked happy gnawing on her deer antler, enjoying her little slice of Heaven.
The anomaly is that since Phoebe came home with me she has been in one of three places: next to me, under foot, or with someone else in the house. As long as someone is within sight she is content, but as soon as the room clears she is up and running within seconds. She is like a little shadow.
When Phoebe first arrived she was on my heels if I even thought about leaving the room. Until recently, a typical day would go something like this: I walk in the bedroom to gather laundry; Phoebe pitter patters behind me. Once we enter the room, she plops herself in her bed and gets all comfy. The respite is short-lived since I am on the move one minute later. Phoebe jumps up and skitters down the hall behind me until we reach landing pad number two – her lounge bed in the family room. Just when she gets all settled, I am on the move again, Phoebe instantly jumping up to follow closely behind. She stands by while I grab the vacuum and then follows me back to the family room where she settles into her lounge bed again. Back and forth, up and down, like a little jumping bean.
After a month passed, she would stay put as long as someone else was in the room with her. If I did not return within a few minutes, she would hunt me down. Over time, she has stopped seeking me out as her only source of security. Now, she will follow other family members around the house and even spends a few nights sleeping in their rooms. I think she is almost ready to cut the cord, though she still hates to be completely alone when it is not her own choice.
Since the beginning, I have told her, “I will be right back.” every time I leave the room. It may have taken four months, but it seems like she may be capturing the meaning. The results are most evident at night. Unlike when she first arrived, once we have settled down for the night, if I need to leave the room to run and grab something she will stay in bed. If I am gone too long, she gets up, but instead of rushing down the hall, she now pokes her head out the door to see what I am up to. If she sees me heading back, she turns around and goes back to bed. Otherwise, she will trek towards me to give me a nudge. It certainly is progress.
I had noticed that Phoebe’s evolution from neediness to security started when we installed a doggie door – her big ticket to freedom. I am guessing that in Phoebe’s little mind it is all right to be alone when it is by choice.
The day that Phoebe went missing (hiding in plain sight) seems to be the day that she broke through an invisible barrier from neediness to security. Each day she seems to enjoy spending more time alone. I find her lying in the
sun all by herself, sleeping in my room when I am not there, and curling up where it all began (the chair in the living room).
I miss my little shadow, yet I am glad that she is blossoming. I guess I should give myself (and my family) a pat on the back for providing an environment where our little rescue dog feels safe.