...we brought Kipling home to live with us.
We met him at the local ASPCA. He had been abandoned and was shaking scared.
And yet, he immediately seemed to set his hopes on us.
We saw at that first meeting that he could get along with Ben and that maybe he would be a good fit in our family.
To read Kipling's story in my initial post, please click here.
He was in pretty rough shape when he came to live with us.
His recovery was long but he had Ben, ever the gentleman, to look out for him.
Once he was healed, we started to understand who Kipling truly is. I remember taking the above photo so clearly, it was the first moment that we let him roam off leash in the Alpilles and how he transformed!
For in the country, he is another dog entirely...
...confident, at ease...
...fearless (too much so at times - immediately after the above photo was taken, he ran down the steep ravine that he was looking into until he fell, hurt his paw and dragged himself into a river to heal. Remi had to go down to help bring him back up)...
...and always ready to explore (also at times too much - for while we have trained him to come when we call, he has still given us a few scares and we have to keep a strong eye on him).
His speed and agility are truly amazing and beautiful to behold.
Each characteristic is a clue as to what his life was before.
We know that he was beaten but that he was allowed to sleep on the bed. That he rode shotgun in the car. That he isn't afraid of the hottest sun, that he loves the water but not the sea.
Physically, he has changed as well. Although the fur that was shaved off his belly has not grown back, he is now at a proper weight. His eyes, which were closed slits when he arrived chez nous, are now open and bright.
Kipling is incredibly loyal.
I believe that he is starting to really get it that we won't abandon him. While he is incredibly sweet with us at home, I have to admit that he is not always an easy dog in public. Since he has regained his strength, he has become more aggressive against cats, other dogs (of all shapes, sizes and ages) and even towards people if he thinks that I need protecting. That is a job that he takes very seriously and he does very well. Two weeks ago, while Remi was out of town, three men broke into the front hall of our building. Kipling heard them, started barking furiously and scared them away! Good boy, Kip. In the above photo, he is looking for son maitre who is far in the distance. He sat frozen like that until Remi returned. "That dog would follow you to the ends of the earth," I often say. And he would.
Just as Ben claimed the Napoleon III chaise-longue as a puppy, Kipling immediately decided that the red leather couch near my desk would be "his". Please excuse the inelegant pose but to see him so relaxed and undefended does my heart good. While he still has a tendency to follow me around from room to room, he has made progress with abandonment issues too. Now, when Remi and I leave the puppers behind when heading out the door, he no longer howls with worry but understands when we tell him, "We will come back."
But what about Kipling and Ben together?
That too is a work in progress. After a smooth beginning and even some cuddly moments, they have pulled apart. They get along fine but are not the best buddies that I would have hoped them to be. At least not yet. Kipling is only beginning to learn how to play. He doesn't have a clue what to do with toys and finally learned how to romp with another dog thanks to Ganache, the down-right goofy Rottweiler that lives at La Buissonade. Ben does try but Kipling hesitates. I think that if we are able to move to the country and each dog has more space, this will work itself out. They like each other, I know.
For there are moments, as in this photo taken the other day, that suggest they might be getting closer. Kipling's arrival was also a challenge for Ben, who was very used to being the king of the roost. While we have continually assured him and showered him with love, he did pull away from Remi and I as well for some months. That too seems to finally be shifting back into a happier exchange as Ben understands that Kipling is here now and that we care for them both, enormously.
Yes, there have been interesting negotiations of power between these two adult male dogs at times but they are subtle. And they have taught each other much as well. Kipling has shown Ben how to really explore the wild and Ben has shown Kipling, well, how to persuade me to give them their dinner (I also love that you can see his tail wagging "all the way around" in the video too)!
Thank you for all that you have taught me too, Kipling. About patience and taking time to work through the challenges of trusting, some of which have taken longer than I could have ever imagined. As someone who grew up with dogs, it has been a humbling experience as well. You are your own dog, Kip. I see that you are trying and am moved by your efforts. It's just fine to be complex and not perfect as long as you are you. And those extra long walks that you need have done me a lot of good too!
Happy First Anniversary in our Home, Kipling! We love you, little guy.
For more adventures of Kipling and Ben, see here, here, here, here and here!