by Laura Sylvester
Rick and I loaded Orbit in the car and headed out for dinner. Tim and Elise asked if they could leave Black Puppy, better known as BP, behind at our house with Brooklyn and Elliot for some early exposure to a child with autism. Brooklyn was more than happy to oblige!! As we pulled out onto the highway, we could see the sun setting over the ocean. It was one of those amazing San Diego showstopper sunsets, so we led Tim and Elise on a short detour along the Oceanside coast to absorb a little SoCal Sunday evening energy. As we passed the now-condemned Top Gun house on our way to the beach strand drive, Elise broke into her version of “Take My Breath Away” for Tim. (paws for laughter) As we drove along the beach, I rolled down the back window for Orbit. Our meek puppy sat up with excitement as he spied the ocean and then looked longingly at the sand and surf. “Soon,” I said to him. “we’ll go to the beach soon. I promise.”
Arriving at the Besta-Wan Pizza House in Cardiff just after dark, Orbit was exposed to over a dozen screaming kids playing wildly in the parking lot in what seemed like some sort of flashing neon-light hula hoops war. Loose dogs and their muttly beer-driven owners were running amuck amidst the whirling chaos. (All welcome activities at the Besta-Wan). Orbit healed at Rick’s side and performed a down stay on the blacktop like a prefect gentlemen. Some kids wanted to pet him and we were happy to oblige, as soon we take our Canine Good Citizen test and this is test Item # 2 - Sitting Politely for Petting.
Tim, Elise, Rick and I had a great meal while Orbit lay at Rick’s side throughout. He ignored loose hot dogs butts strewn on the floor, paid no attention to the pesky poodle who encroached several times, and he even voluntarily licked up some beer the waitress spilled on her foot.
When we arrived home, we got the debriefing on Elliot and Black Puppy’s escapades. Elliot played a game Brooklyn called “Scamp’s trapped in his cage (dog crate) and needs help getting out.” (For those not versed in all Disney dog movies, Scamp is the star of Lady and The Tramp II, Scamp’s Adventure.) Black Puppy got to swing in Elliot’s indoor hammock swing and he got to play ball outside. Overall, the evening was a great success for everyone.
My favorite part of the night came when Tim, Elise, Black Puppy and Brookyn all departed. All of a sudden, Orbit got a spunkiness in him that we had not seen to this point. He ran to the front door, ran back to the family room, ran up to each one of us as if to say “Yeah, I’m still here. They didn’t take me with them. I am still here!” Then he ran and got a toy and brought it to Rick and they played fetch for a long time. Now I might be crazy, but my fantasy of what was happening is that tonight Orbit figured out that this is his forever home.
You see, during the course of his training over the past several months, he has visited many families for weekends at a time in order to expose him to different environments, different kids, all in preparation for us. So maybe in his mind, this was just another one of those trips. That was until tonight. Something happened and now he knows, as Elliot so often loves to say, “he’s coming to stay.”
Elliot, on the other hand, is a bit done with the whole training-the-parents thing. It seems the dog is getting far too much attention and he is through having all these people around - no offense Tim and Elise. We knew Elliot would be slow to warm up to Orbit and that it would take time for them to bond - that’s just Elliot’s speed. Or maybe, more correctly put, Elliot just likes to wait for Mom and Dad to get their emotional vibe together on things before he commits to jumping in that energy pool. In any case, we will take our cues from Elliot and do what we can to facilitate the bond. Like the countless therapies and interventions we have implemented, we will play it by ear and let things flow organically with NO expectations from here on out. For our boy is a sensitive one, as all his therapists can attest, he knows when you have an agenda and he is not about it follow it. It’s this ability that has taught us all what love is really all about - how to love without expectation for something in return. He has taught us that the one that loves the most always wins.