River might only be 8lbs of pure awesomeness, but she pretty much carries my soul around with her little furry butt. If you ever read/saw the Golden Compass the people have Dæmons which is the other half of their soul in the form of an animal that can change shape until adulthood when they chose their form. In the story the people cannot be separated from their Dæmons for long distances or large amount of time and if they are they will slowly weaken and die. Described as a very advanced familiar or that of a spirit guide (without the powers and control) the Dæmons are the other half of a person. I often thought it was a good analogy for some of my animals and I. Sadly my critters don’t live as long as me but in most other ways they tend to follow the description closely. So I often fondly refer to River as I used to with my other Dachshund Maggie; as my ‘Dæmon’. Since she goes basically EVERYWHERE with me most would have to agree. And she always wants to tag along with what I am doing (literally) be it riding horses, kayaking, hiking, riding horses, training dogs and many many other things. I had a boyfriend once comment that he truly believed if I jumped off a cliff River would just follow me. I actually have gone ‘cliff jumping’ into a lake and she DIDN’T..but she did scramble around the rock face to the water to greet me which involved going down a very large downgrade of rocks that most dogs wouldn’t dream of going down. River has jumped into creeks and lakes after me and attempted to climb up cliffs while I was rock climbing and put her little legs on my horse’s hoof in order to make easier for me to ‘reach’ her from the saddle. So I guess that boyfriend wasn’t far off… Yet even with all those crazy things I don’t have dog who can’t be in my immediate area. While she isn’t thrilled about it she can be separated from me though her “natural” state seems to be trailing next to me through life.
Many people assume it’s because of training that River is very responsive and aware of me – but not actually. She has always been super aware and able to figure out what she should be doing without me coaching her through it or ‘teaching’ her. She might know a lot more words now but her overall demeanor hasn’t changed much since I actually spent some time training her to respond to verbal commands. In fact when I bring the treats out and start working with her as a ‘dog’ she dumbs down to a normal dog and it’s when I am not actually talking to her or thinking of her as a dog that she does the most amazing things. Like unlocking the car doors. Going to “get” someone for me (people and dogs). Running with me the suburbia sidewalks off leash and never straying and pausing at every stop sign with me. Not reacting to another dog when I really need her too. Staying by my side even in our house. Not chewing on anything unless I give it to her as ‘her’ toy (there have been large periods of time where she had nothing, not even a stuffed toy and she would never touch anything-even underwear). Sleeping in a basket in the summer of TN so as to not bother me with the scratching of her flea bites. Coming to get me when she is going to be sick. Knowing the moment I felt alone and wonder where she was (at the farm she was often was MIA with the other dogs doing ‘dog things’ but soon as I wished for her company she was scratching the door to let me know she was there or had someone let her in from outside and bring her upstairs). I never taught her any of these things. She just figured them out. I’ve had complete strangers come and ask me how I got my dog to look to me for direction without me saying a word it’s so noticeable. River is by no means a psychic or the perfect dog but overall she does fairly well in my opinion. She still does silly things and sometimes pisses on the rug or barks at children (in her defense I don’t like them too close either!).
To say I am grateful for my dog is an understatement. Even now as I write this after dinner she is at my feet seeming to ‘listen’ to my inner thoughts. Everyday to her is an adventure of what we might experience. She isn’t driven by toys or games like most dogs. Only food makes her dog tendencies come out (or the random ferret really makes her lose her shit).
Just once every should experience a dog like River.