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A Million Little Pieces Of My Mind

It's A Dog's Life

By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 5/27/2024
Occurred: 8/12/2020
Page Views: 721
Topics: #Coronavirus #Maui
Dogs give us so much. It's nice to be able to give back.

Each morning at sunrise I am awakened by my dogs, specifically Ella, who is quite certain when breakfast time is, and is unlikely to allow me to sleep past it. Nevertheless, I cherish this and all other moments with Ella and Lilly. They give us so much affection and laughter, not to mention a sense of security. Yet when I look back at how we got them here to Maui, it almost seems like a miracle that they got here at all.

As recently as February, my husband Keith, myself, and our dogs Ella and Lilly lived in an apartment in Mesa, Arizona. We knew (well, Keith and I did; it would come as a surprise to the dogs) that we were going to move to Maui in about a month. That meant we would have to crate train the dogs before the trip.

Our apartment complex in Mesa, Indigo Springs, was certainly not an unpleasant place for the dogs. There was a convenient dog park for them to fraternize in; ample yards for their elimination needs, and lots of people for Ella to say hello to. (Lilly is more difficult to win over.)

I had no reason to think they were already crate trained. And, being an empathic person. all I could imagine was their terror at finding themselves in a dark cargo hold in a claustrophobic cage.

Still, I kept reading that dogs, descended as they are from wolves, love dens: small enclosed areas where they can feel safe. And it's true: both dogs liked to relax underneath tables or chairs.

So I bought the crates, used, from people on Craigslist. I left them sitting next to each other for over a month without doing a thing. In fact, they became catch-alls for things we took out but didn't actually want to put away.

Eventually, though, I started tossing treats into the cages, leaving the doors open, so each dog could get her own treat and leave when she wanted.

Ella was a little nervous about the crate at first. I had to reassure her. And over the course of weeks, she became used to having treats thrown into her crate.

Lilly actually loved her crate from the start. Still, I didn't leave her in it for any period of time. For awhile.

Next I fed them their dinners in their crates, with the doors closed, and made them wait a few minutes before letting them out. I watched carefully for signs of stress, but they exhibited none. They were happy to get out, but they also seemed happy to watch us from within.

That was the hard part. The company that actually moved them did an excellent job; when Zach and I picked them up at the airport they were very happy to see us, but not frantic. I was practically in tears from relief.

For the remainder of my first week here alone, they kept me constant company, sleeping with me and keeping me warm. (March nights here were kind of chilly.)

So now, we are approaching our sixth month in Maui. And, I'm happy to report, the dogs don't seem to miss Arizona any more than Keith and I do. Even though we are essentially camping over the long term, Ella and Lilly seem just as happy to sleep on grass or dirt as they ever did on the carpet.

In fact, though Ella often comes to cuddle with me when I first go to bed, she soon leaves for her favorite spot under the porch table.

Lilly, being a shorter-haired dog, tends to be chilly when Ella wants shade. No worries; the deck on which we have the shower catches the morning sun.

On our 28 acres, Ella and Lilly have free reign. However, they always stay close to the cabin if either Keith or I is there. When I ride the quad up to Zach's level, Lilly almost always runs ahead of me; she seems to be playing that I am chasing her. Ella sometimes runs up with us, but as often she just hangs out in the cabin.

But when we are both working, say at the solar shed, they'll come along and relax. It would seem that the underside of the shed deck is just like a crate to Ella.

But propbably their favorite thing is swimming at Koki Beach, a very small, very beautiful spot that is seldom crowded.

Because there are other people there, we keep the dogs on their leashes. But that doesn't stop them from enjoying the water. However, when their leashes get tangled, it does keep us from enjoying the water! So we often take turns leading them into the waves for a swim.

We've also taken them to swim at a waterffall, which they also love.

Of course, we all know that dogs mostly just love being in the company of their humans. no matter what the humans are doing. But I love that the dogs love so many of the same things Keith and I do.