Life is never dull with a dog from Afghanistan.
After the initial exhaustion of coping with a dog who pushed so many boundaries life began to change literally day by day.
People who knew him noticed huge changes and that he was becoming much more relaxed and able to cope with situations that were very difficult, and challenging, before.
I think, also, we were changing.
We, as a family, were less wary of him. Not that he was aggressive in the ‘I’m going to show you my pearly whites’ sense but in the way that the tension that surrounded issues like ‘who was coming through the door/upstairs/near his toys and near me’ issues.
Brin is fearful not aggressive and by changing our approach to him changed his perspective of what to expect.
He is also an excellent rat catcher, walking on tip toes in absolute silence, he would pounce with acute accuracy and run inside with his prize much to my horror. Frogs caused him to jump back with a puzzled look and coming across a grass snake in the back alley Brin froze then moved backwards in slow motion as if not wanting to be seen.
He is a creature of complete habit and each and everyday will move to places around the house where he can see me at all times. I adore him for that and admire his technique of just being there silently watching.
Brin also shows great compassion for other animals, something that has shown itself as time has passed.
A few days ago two baby birds were born in my shed and sadly, one died. As I carried it away to be buried he walked with me and watched as I dug a little hole. Laying the little body down he pushed past me and I expected a chase to retrieve it from his mouth but instead he sniffed gently, licked it’s lifeless body and sat down next to me as I proceeded to cover it over.
What is also wonderful to witness is his happiness when family and friends arrive. Brin took quite a while to wag his tail freely. At first it was just the tip that would wiggle slightly when he reacted to a sound or action but never the full on base to tip wag we all know from many of our dogs. Gradually, over time, this action increased and now when he wags his tail he almost does a hula dance as his hips move with it. I never thought that a dog would have to learn such an action but I suppose, because of the huge chunk of socialisation missing from the start of his life, this too had to be gradually learnt.
It was a true pleasure to witness this and when it happened it also brought a great sense of achievement to us all knowing that, at last, he was feeling more settled and content in the environment that was now his home.
That is not to say that Brin is an angel!
Far from it!
A more stubborn dog I have never known!
On walks (or patrols as we like to call them) around his neighbourhood there are moments when my arm has almost been wrenched from its socket due to his determination to sniff a lamppost or chase a cat. He either has super glue on his paws or a rocket where the sun doesn’t shine and I have engaged a telepathic link to his lead and am able to read what coming next via it’s vibrations!
Another thing I love about the change in him is night-time.
When he first came home it would often take up to an hour to get him in but now he trots in with the others and sits in a line with Ruby, Jake and Dennis patiently waiting for a small snack after which he will run upstairs and jump on the bed falling a sleep within minutes.
I now can’t sleep unless he rests his head on my foot..he has become a true symbol to me of unconditional love and, although he has learnt so much since the dark days of Helmand, we have learnt so much from him and for that we are eternally grateful.