Our First Kiss
Today is the second anniversary of Lilith coming to join the pack here at Hickory Head. She was my first rescue that I actually went out and looked at on the internet. I wanted a girl dog and Lucas was supposed to be a girl dog but he turned out to be male and what was I going to do, order a canine gender reassignment? So Lucas became Lucas and after Bert died in April of 2012, I went shopping for a girl dog. Why a girl dog? I never had one before. My pack was always male and I had always been told that girl dogs were…different. I also wanted a Pit. So I decided to find a Girl Pit who needed a home. I decided to go online and look at BARC, the Brooks Area Rescue Center, who regular set up adoption events at Petsmart.
And that’s how I met Lilith.
I’ve never met a dog I didn’t like, as long as it wasn’t one of those tiny little yappy dogs who do shots of espresso in the morning before they go to lurk. But Lilith was an exceptional dog the first time I met her. She was smart, kind, shy, but she seemed to be there to find me as well as for me to find her. It was supposed to be a meeting but it turned into an adoption. An hour later I was driving home with both my first girl dog rescue and my first Pit Bull all in one!
The boys back home loved her, kinda, sort of. Sam and Lucas both snuffled her relentlessly but Lilith didn’t seem to mind at all. She was a happy little girl who just wanted to have someone to tell her that it was okay. Lucas didn’t like having someone else around who was the center of attention so he spent the first three days skulking under the table. On the fourth day Lucas discovered that unlike Sam, who was aging, Lilith could play, and she could play hard.
An unending, nonstop, moving, messy, collision filled, game of bitey face began before dawn and ended well after lights out. Wild hippo noises broke out at odd times and it sounded very much as if they were killing one another. Lilith was tiny but she was also very sleek and very fast. Her innate Pit Bullness drove her full of energy across the yard or across the floor when playing with her much larger brother and she wore him out then wore him down. It was delightful to see Lucas playing with such tenderness with a much smaller dog. He had never had a puppy before in his life and was trying hard not to break it. But they played so well together and then they would lie together, bodies touching and worn out but souls united. A bond unlike any I have ever seen between two dogs was forming in front of me.
The L Hounds had arrived as a team.
But there was the question of Lilith’s temperament. You may have to help me here because I’m not sure of the word I should use. Lilith wasn’t quite shy. She would come if I called her and she loved to be petted. But Lilith would stay by herself in the bedroom while we male denizens hung out in my office or the living room. I would go lie down on the floor with her and pet her just to make sure she was okay, and to make sure she knew she was valued. Lilith seemed to love the idea that I had come to hang out with her. I just couldn’t figure out why she wouldn’t come hang out with us.
My theory is that Lilith was trained to sit in a crate all day. She had her place to stay and that was where she belonged. Lilith wasn’t ever let out to play or to wander around so she just didn’t know how to do so. I started calling her into the room whenever she was alone. At first she would come in, hang around for a while, then leave, but I kept trying to get her to stay. Eventually, I think she got the idea that she belonged with us and she would curl up in the corner and sleep.
You should do that, you know. You should go find your dog and just lie down beside her or him, and let that animal know you’ve come in just to visit and some pettings maybe, but you should seek them out at odd times. They love that. They like the idea that you miss them.
Now, here’s where I need a word. Lilith would, at first, come over to my chair, from behind, and tap it very quickly and very lightly with one paw and then look away. Was she being shy? To me, it seemed like she was being polite. Is that the right word? She seemed to be saying, “Excuse me sir, but if it isn’t too much trouble, when you find some time, could I be petted on a dog’s head, please?”
I would always stop and pet Lilith when she did this and she loved it. Any motion she made, no matter how small, was enough for me to stop what I was doing and encourage her. Come here, Girl Dog, come to me and be petted! Well, it final got to where she would approach my chair from the side and put a paw on the side of the chair and leave it there. What was even more fun was when she started to lick the back of my head having come up behind me while I was on the sofa. The sofa is free standing, not against a wall, and Lilith could sit and kiss my head while I was reading. Of course, I had to call her over to pet her or reach over the sofa, so Lilith felt comfortable, to the point of obsession, with this approach.
It took a while, but I finally got Lilith to jump up and put her front paws on my leg while I was writing. It was a lot easier to pet her from this position and Lilith acted as if she had just ascended the throne of heaven. She had to snuffle the keyboard and the mouse and she stared at the screen as if she wondered what the hell to make of all those symbols. But this took months. Oddly, when I tried to get Lilith to jump up on my leg she would usually move to the other side of the chair, regardless of which side she was on, she would move and then jump, as if she wanted me to have some sort of waiting period in case I changed my mind. I never did.
Finally, because it was getting cold, Lilith decided that she wanted to get up on the bed. Now, she wasn’t about to get on the bed because I asked her to, but she would get up on the bed after Lucas did, and she would sleep at his feet. There were times I didn’t know she was there. If I shifted too quickly in the night, or moved suddenly she would instantly leap off the bed and not come back up.
I kept trying. I wanted Lilith to feel totally comfortable with me and our home. Finally one night, in the middle of a really great sentence, a smallish Pibbilated Girl Dog nearly landed in my lap. Oh hai, I would like to be petted on a girl dog’s head, okay? It was a very exciting move for Lilith. She was testing waters she knew not how deep. But she got a lot of pettings even though one of her brothers, and I won’t mention any names, tried to head butt her away. Lillith had blossomed!
So now I get a Pibble Princess on my lap even when I don’t always want one. But I do stop to pet her. I want her to feel like this is contact she can seek out. Sometimes she wants out. She will hop up on me and then get down quickly if she wants out. Lilith is training me. Still, it’s amazing at how she perceives the area inside the house. When Lucas is on the bed she will sleep at his feet, not at my side, but sometimes she tries to steal his place. He usually tries to flatten her to get her to move and sometimes she just stays put. One night, Lucas was slow to get on the bed and Lilith deer-leaped around the room in three bounds then rocketed onto the bed and dove into Lucas’s spot before he could react.
Lilith loves to snuggle. She will get on the bed and wiggle around while lying next to me to make sure she is as close as possible. She likes keeping a paw on me or keeping her head pushed next to my body. Lilith seeks out contact now where once she wouldn’t stay in the same room with us. She’s slowly encroaching on Lucas’ territory but the battle is very friendly.
Lilith still likes her downtime away from us guys. She goes out in the morning and stays gone after Lucas and Sam return. She likes to lie in the sun while we guys are inside and I let Lilith do what Lilith likes. But I will hunt her down and pet her if she stays gone too long and maybe sometimes she’s waiting for that to happen, just so she can be sure I still will do it.
Maybe this is all projection on my part and dogs don’t really live like this or love like this. Maybe Lilith was just doing what she did and wasn’t really the most polite dog on earth. But she’s my dog now. That’s all that matters.
Oh, yeah, by the way, Girl Dogs? Totally different form of energy; my next may be another female! I may get another Pibble Princess!