An update from Tex’s forever family!
I am sitting here this evening massaging my little Tex. Tex loves this, and I know this only because he does not move away, his ears and body are soft, and because I have learned to know what he likes by his subtle body signals alone. We used to joke when Tex first came to live with us that we never knew when he was happy, because his facial expression didn’t change. Tex always looked sad and depressed. That is just the way his face hangs. His little brown eyes didn’t ever light up with fun, excitement, or mischief. I have not ever seen him wag his tail with excitement, or wiggle his body in joy. I fell in love with him for his quiet gentleness, but also felt challenged that I wanted to make this old boy feel love, joy, and I wanted to connect with him, I wanted him to look at me, wiggle his body, and tell me he was happy!
Tex comes from a place where he was probably not a loved family member. He came from a place that had many other Boston Terriers, and they sold lots of puppies. He was not neutered when he was surrendered to rescue, so we can only assume he was used to produce puppies. As I run my hands over his body, I feel the bone structure and lovely shoulders that must have made him a very handsome young dog. His colouring is stunning, and I am sure he has sired many very beautiful puppies. Unfortunately, years of being penned up in small kennels with limited exercise has caused those parts of of his body that should be muscled and developed, to instead be atrophied and misshapen.
Tex moves with a stymied little gait. He has trouble going down stairs, and coming off beds, couches or retaining walls when we are outside on our short walks. Tex does not like leashes, but that’s okay, because I am sure I can move faster than him. When I first started letting him come out for walks unleashed, he would strike out on his own, and I noticed immediately a difference in his body and ear set. He looked happier! His little head would be resting back on his shoulders, ears back, and those bowed little front legs were reaching out like nobody’s business!!
At first he would tire quickly, but now, after a few months, he has a routine where he circles around out my front yard, and comes back through the neighbour’s front yard to the retaining wall, where he waits for me to help him down. Tex is a dog of habit. After years of doing pretty much the same thing every day, this little ritual is within his comfort zone. Plus, I have excellent neighbours that do not mind his daily trespassing. His face is still hanging the same way, he is not wagging his tail, or wiggling his body, but I know he is happy.
When Tex first came to live with us, he would go to his crate all the time. I left the door open, but he always preferred to retire there, in the same room with us, but not in touch with us. This was all he had known, so I allowed him his own space. Tex today jumps up on the couch, and has a stepping stool to get on and off my bed. He rarely goes into his crate any more.
The other night he jumped in the laundry hamper I had on my floor in the bedroom! It was full of clean clothes I had not put away yet, and it was so funny watching him try to get comfy, then deciding this wasn’t quite what he thought it would be. He managed to hop out on his own, without landing on his funny face, then came to bed. He always goes to the same spot on the bed, once again displaying what a creature of habit he is, and curls up against my legs for the night. I know this makes him happy.
When I come in the door after being out, or coming home from work, Tex displays probably the most excitement I will see. He stamps his little feet, and on occasion, has done a little turn around that almost resembles a burn. This is all his body will allow, and I accept this as his joy in seeing me again, although I suspect it may be because he anticipating his dinner!
Tex has lived with us now for 1 year!! I don’t think I will ever see him wiggle his body, or show any of the other displays that I am used to when I think of a happy dog. However, I no longer look at Tex and see a sad, depressed face. His facial expression is still much the same, but, he has taught me that this is just the way his face hangs. I no longer feel the need to see him wiggle his butt for me. Tex has shown me in so many other little ways that he is happy, and that he feels safe and loved.