Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ahnung meets Julius (aka "son of Ahnung")

My sweet girl Ahnung was a rescued dog originally from the Red Lake reservation in northern Minnesota. A survivor of a gun shot wound to her nipple, heartworm, abandoned with a litter of 8 puppies, lymes, coccidia and no front teeth (she had ground her teeth down to her gums in search of food) ... she came into my life in October 2008 on my first trip up north where I met this most amazing woman Karen Good, founder of Red Lake Rosie's Rescue. I remember how she talked to me about this special dog she had taken in ... she had named her "Mama" (a temporary name for all dogs who are abandoned or found with a litter of pups). "There's something special about her Marilou." My partner jokes with me about what I saw in her ... if you look at the photo of her taken in October, 2008 she looks beaten down and haggard and her coat dull and dry. Yet, there was something about the way she looked at me; there was something in her eyes; there was something in her wise, resilient spirit that screamed at my soul. I promised Karen I would return for "Mama". The following month, I did and I named her Ahnung (ah-NUNG, which means star in ojibway) because she was my north star. You can read more about Ahnung's story on her original blog post.

I officially adopted Ahnung on January 3, 2009. There is an incredible bond between us -- a bond I still struggle to find words for ... and in December, 2009 she officially became a registered therapy dog through Delta Society. Together we volunteer at The Lab (a program of St. Paul Public schools) working with at-risk youth and just recently went through training at Allina and are now officially hospice volunteers, as together we become friends and provide comfort to a new friend who is approaching her time of transition to a new way of existence.

Ahnung and I communicate without words. I have learned so much from her. I have come to trust her when we visit schools .... she knows which kid needs her more; she knows when to simply lay down next to a kid who has shut the world out; and she knows how to touch a battered, broken spirit and teach compassion, forgiveness, resilience through her presence and her actions.

Last week my friend Laura of Rescue Buddy Boarding where my other dog Mister spends a lot of time (due to his separation anxiety) tells me a new dog, Julius, has just arrived from the reservation into Pet Haven's foster program. "I can't wait for you to meet Julius," she says. I'm not sure why. I figure, he must be a cute dog. The next day I go to pick up Mister and meet Julius for the first time. His temperament, markings and spirit remind me of Ahnung. Laura goes on to tell me that when Julius was at the Bloomington Veterinary (the same vet that cared for Ahnung for the first 6 weeks when she had heartworm and first arrived into Pet Haven's foster program) that they thought that Julius was Ahnung ... he got the nickname "son of Ahnung." They estimate him to be about a year and a half to two years old. My guess is that Julius came from a previous litter of Ahnung (not her last). Karen Good (Ahnung's rescuer) confirmed that Julius was found in the same area of the reservation, Redby, where Ahnung was from. Julius was filled with scars and scabs from old injuries, over 200 wood ticks and what appears to be a bebe pellet in his ear. Yet despite all he has been through, like Ahnung, there is a calm, loving, wise spirit about him. The vet tech at the clinic who had cared for Ahnung when she was sick immediately fell in love with Julius. Back in 2008, he had fallen in love with Ahnung and had said, "if there is ever another dog that comes through here that is like Ahnung I want to adopt him." Well, his lucky day came last week when Julius, "son of Ahnung" walked through the clinic doors.

Yesterday, Ahnung and Julius met .... if there were any doubts in my mind about Julius being Ahnung's son, they were washed away yesterday. I have watched Ahnung meet and interact with many dogs over the past year and a half. She tends to keep her distance and has an independent way about her. She somehow knows when to approach and when to back down ... it took her 6 months to learn and accept a play invitation from her sibling Mister. And to this day, will not play with our other dog Missy. Yesterday, there was an immediate bond between the two of them. It began with the usual butt sniff, then a car ride out to Julius' potential new home. I watched the two of them prance around the swimming pool ... they followed each other around like mother and son. I watched Julius approach Ahnung and give her a kiss and in less than 30 minutes, Julius initiated a play bow to Ahnung who accepted in her refined, motherly way.

Julius captured my heart, like Ahnung did. I am happy his new dad will be the same vet tech who fell in love with Ahnung. I am happy Ahnung had a chance to meet one of her sons. There was something magical and healing about their meeting.

My hope is that Ahnung can continue to be a part of Julius' life ... we may be asking for play dates. And Ahnung would like to also mentor Julius so that one day he, too, can become a registered therapy dog :)

The following is a short video clip of photos I took from their meeting ...  included are photos of Julius with his new siblings (a senior chocolate lab and a pug!) ... and YES, he has a swimming pool of his own! Ahnung will be waiting for her invitation to the pool party when Julius is officially adopted!

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