I have been Ziggy's foster mom for over a year. Since he was four months old, he's been part of my life. I have fed him, provided shelter, given him soft clean blankets to sleep on and chew toys to destroy. In return he's provided me with hours of entertainment and fodder for my blog. We've gone on weekly outings to PetSmart. We've gone hiking, and to the dog park, and to friends houses. We've bonded over training sessions and walks around the neighborhood. Other than a few short weeks he spent in boarding when I went on vacation, Ziggy and I have been together almost his entire life. So when he left for boot camp, I knew it would be a big adjustment for both of us. He was gone for five weeks before I was able to set up a visit with him. I envisioned the reunion that we would have when we met again. He would run up to me with his tail wagging and his eyes filled with joy, and I would throw my arms around him and apologize for sending him away. He'd lick away the tears on my face, and we'd both vow to never be separated again.
Then I got to PetSmart, our meeting place for the visit. Ziggy came in with his trainer, and I stood there and waited for Ziggy to recognize me. And I waited. And waited some more. It was busy at PetSmart and there was a lot to take in, so I knew it would take some time. Finally I went over to him and held out my hand. He sniffed it, and then it happened! There was a glimmer of recognition in his eyes. He licked my hand, and I reached down to pet him. He sniffed my pocket, and realized I didn't have my usual supply of dog treats. Then, as I bent down to throw my arms around him and let the happy reunion begin, he turned and walked over to the next person to see if maybe THEY had a ready supply of dog treats in their pocket. I sighed, and acknowledged that Ziggy was just being Ziggy. He wasn't holding a grudge, or deliberately ignoring me. He just was so busy living his life, that he didn't really miss me at all. So I did the only thing I could. I borrowed some dog treats and called Ziggy to me. Once he saw the treats, he was all mine. We went through our repertoire of tricks, and he remembered every one of them. There were no tears, no licks, no joyful reunion hugs. But as we finished the tricks and I watched his trainer lead him away, he gave me one quick backward glance. And I imagined, for that one split second before Ziggy once again focused on living in the moment, that perhaps he wished to stay with me. Then he went trotting off to his next adventure, waiting around the next corner, and I was happy that he was happy. And that I still had one more week to enjoy the peace and quiet before he came home.
Ziggy returns next weekend, and we'll see then exactly what effect boot camp had on him. Somehow, in spite of his intensive six week training course, I don't think there will be any lack of Ziggy stories to share in the future.