2022 was a tough year for so many people. Please feel free to share your tough story in the comments. You are not alone. Your story is important.
For Miles and I, housing was the biggest challenge. After constant stress over housing all year and moving several times, I planned a big move for us in December. My dad and I did the move ourselves in two days, which we both quickly regretted. Even though the experience was awful, it yielded one of my best memories of last year. After the move wrapped at around 5am, Miles and I were on one floor mattress, and my dad was on another. The backs of our heads were about a foot apart. Miles checked in on my dad, then me, and repeat, meanwhile my dad and I chatted deliriously in the darkness until we all fell asleep. The way my dad and I got through that hard time together over a several day period meant so much to me. The next morning a major snowstorm hit. Internet installation was delayed, I couldn’t seem to add data to my phone, and of course the usual solution, to go to a coffee shop, wasn’t available given the storm.
Miles and I sat on our mattress together on the floor and stared at the mountains of boxes. We felt really out of place. The heat in the place wasn’t working, and a neighbor’s cigarette smoke wafted through the icy kitchen fan vent. Nearly a week in, it felt wrong to unpack, but I gave in and did. I woke up the next morning fully unpacked. I was talking on the phone with my mom, and all of the sudden I exclaimed “There’s something in the walls!” My mom said “its probably just the old pipes.” For some reason now whenever I think of that moment all I can think of is this Twilight Zone episode… And “there’s something in the walls!” has become an inside joke with several of my friends…
A split second later, the ceilings burst and water dumped into the small space from burst pipes above. Being me (if you know me, you know me!) I had not one but three Home Depot buckets handy, which I immediately flew into rotation, constantly dumping into the bathtub. The landlord had an emergency plumber on site within an hour to turn off the water, but the flooding and surprise new leaks continued into the night. The whole while the smoke detector and appliances alarmed simultaneously for hours, until they began to slowly whine, and eventually let out their last calls before dying off. I worked hard to empty buckets and completely re-pack. Late that night I called a taxi to transport Miles and I and some of my most precious belongings to a hotel. Instead of auto-booking I called an operator to explain the situation, and somehow they didn’t tell the taxi driver I’d be loading 3 shopping-sized bags of delicate personal belongings and that I’d be bringing Miles. The taxi driver screamed at me as I slid on the ice loading my bags with Miles in tow. He told me he was not a dog-friendly taxi. As per usual when this happens, and always during a crisis, I asked the taxi if he’d like me to vacate, and instead he started driving, continuing to yell at me. Every time I always say I don’t know what more I can do but that I will give a good tip. They never believe me about the tip until I do, and then they seem very embarrassed. I can only imagine their behavior has to do with how they’ve been treated before, so I am unsure whether to be upset about them, or the customers who surely have been terrible to them many times before. Regardless, all I know is it is always very upsetting (the last time was after a particularly disastrous travel day for Miles and I at agility Nationals last August).
The next day was Christmas Eve, and securing movers and a storage unit was very challenging. Two young guys through a moving company agreed to take the job, for which I will forever be grateful. They took the job even though it cut into their Christmas Eve family party.
As I sit in an Airbnb and write this (right now the unit next door is having a kitchen fire, but Miles seems more concerned about the stink of the copious amounts of pet hair in our unit), the biggest reflection I have is actually in relation to Miles. It is more of a love letter, really.
Miles is what I would classify as extremely high needs type of dog. His type is so specific and his needs are so different that he not only changed my life, he is the reason my entire career path changed. He is the reason so many dogs like him have gotten help. He has saved so many lives.
Few dogs will amuse and exercise themselves, or keep themselves company. The dogs we bred for tough jobs are often tormented the most by silence and stillness. In our normal life, Miles’ vibrant active intelligent needs are met, which is a lot of work for both of us. We walk/hike an absolute minimum of 5 miles every single day (the hard-line only exception is if one of us is ill), Miles and I work professionally together, we train and compete in agility, and he gets all sorts of other miscellaneous attention such as our own training, canine conditioning programs, stretches, and of course, our affectionate 24/7 life together.
During this recent crisis, I asked the most I’ve ever asked of Miles. It was very difficult for me to bypass the realization that what to me is the most I could possibly ask of Miles is what many pet people ask for, beg for, dream of, hope for, or even expect of their dogs, as the norm. I asked Miles to station on his dog bed for very long hours in a busy house, and to remain still, safe, unobtrusive, and silent all day (day in, day out) until I could take him for a few short bathroom breaks and maybe a short walk each day.
Miles stayed glued off-leash to his bed in the flooded place with minimal breaks as several rounds of emergency workers waded in and out, as I packed for long hours, as I and the movers barged in and out, and then he was left alone for nearly a day. We moved to a hotel and then Airbnb, and it broke my heart that I still needed him to be silent, to do almost nothing, and to accept the bare minimum of care.
Miles rose to the occasion and proved to be a equal partner in this time of need. He offered everything he had, again and again, throughout the various rounds.
This stable disposition and ability to pivot during a crisis is the result of the hard work and training Miles and I have done together and the relationship between us that it has created. I always tell clients that it is really important to provide your dog with as much enrichment, exercise, training, and attention as you possibly can in normal times. If you do this, you will create a relationship where a high-needs, high-energy type of dog can trust you and have faith in you during the hard times. My clients who put their trust in me and do the work I suggest have the same results. It is a dream for me to share this life with Miles, and it is a dream I am so grateful to be able to share with others through my work.
So much in life doesn’t make sense. I can imagine dogs must be unsure all of the time about what the people they depend on for their care are doing. We are equally dependent on our dogs for profound things we don’t understand. The only thing I know for sure is that I am forever grateful I’ve been able to experience a bond that transcends the uncertainties of life.
No words. Just love and prayer. ❤️🙏🏻
|”You eventually get the dog you deserve” .
I don’t recall where I saw that quote, but truer words were never spoken.
Congratulations, Emma, you deserve your wonderful dog. And I sincerely hope the remainder of your transition is easier…
I hope the cabbie is not a dog owner.
As a Welsh companion myself, Miles is one lucky dog. Wishing you both continued love and friendship together.
As a Welsh companion myself, Miles is one lucky dog. Wishing you both continued love and friendship together.
Love to you and Miles. You continue to inspire us. So sorry you had to go through this. 🙏 ❤️
Marcia & Lucy
So sorry this all happened to you. I really hope things are getting better for you and Miles.
Oh Emma! What an ordeal. So happy that you have weathered the storm and those challenges. Best wishes for settling into more permanent home for you and Miles.
What a touching story. You have endured so much. But Miles, and all Welsh terriers, are truly the best companions. Ben and I can personally attest to doing the hard work that you taught us can have amazing results.
We wish you the best in your challenging situation. And are in awe of all you and Miles have accomplished.
With best regards,
Carole and Ben Smith
Emma. I am crying. I’m glad you and Miles had each other. I’m glad you have your Dad. I can only support and love you from 3,000 miles away, and it seems insignificant. Like a tiny sailboat in a nor’Easter. But I do love you and I understand everything you say. I will be thinking of you constantly. Until I hear you are in a safe and settled place, i will hold you in the light. Heart to heart, Darcy
What a nightmare Emma and Miles. I’m so sorry for your troubles but so happy you have each other. What a trouper you are Miles!
Wow! Talk about an ordeal. I am amazed at what you have been through. This past year we moved to Wisconsin after living in Colorado Springs for over 44 years, and the same home for 29 years old. Sadie, our 11 year old Welshie was really stressed out by our difficult move, I won’t go into how stressed out all of us were, but Sadie didn’t bounce back like she usually does from difficult situations. I decided to visit a new vet and she suggested testing her for Cushing’s Disease. The test was positive, and even though our move was rough, we were able to help Sadie earlier and get her on the medication she needed. This breed is so entuned to our needs, I was glad I knew she needed me to intervene for her.
Hi Emma & Miles,
Thank you for sharing. We wish we could do more than just send words through the internet.
You & Miles always find a way through with grace. What is really amazing, is that you willingly turn your challenges into lessons other humans can use to strengthen our terrier relationships. Bravo!
Reading these words was like hearing you summarize the most basic lesson: listen to your terrier, and do the work every day. It is the least we can do for our terrier partners.
Artie, Rex & Karen
I just want to say how remarkable you and Miles are. The two of you are a match made in heaven. It is hard to imagine what you had to go through. It’s just great that you two had each other and your dad. I know what a horrible experience that is firsthand. Carole, Meghan and I are thinking of you and send you our love.We hope that you find a great new home.
Emma…..you aren’t kidding about a tough time. We’ve been missing you all these weeks, so eager to get “back to work”, not knowing the full scope of what you’ve been thru. We admire your tenacity, your courage, your problem solving skills…….sounds like someone 🐶 we know! And we imagine a sense of humor had to come into play at some point. Love from Andreas, Archie, Coco & me. We’ll be eagerly awaiting your new digs for Zoom sesh’s. Archie’s losing all his manners without your tutelage. 😉
What a horrible experience. The good news is that both of you were able to survive unscathed. Yes Miles’s behavior during this time just validates how well dogs respond when given love and care throughout their lives.
Thinking of you and praying for you, my friend. Thanks for sharing your journey, the great, the good, and the not so good. You got this!
Loved your story. Have an Airedale Terrier that I only wish were as calm and supportive as yours. CaffeLatte is all energy and speed but we love her.
Wow Emma! So sorry you and Miles had to go through all of that. What a great companion he is… he knows his Momma and his loyalty and love for her means he will support her through thick and thin. Griffin (the crazy one) and I send you our love and hope things work out quickly for you!
You and that wonderful Welshman are amazingly tenacious! I have tears in my eyes from reading such a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to Miles for standing by you (and you him!) The way he looks at you!!!! I certainly hope you are in your own home with no issues soon!
Hug the pup nightly. Hope things improve for you two. Remember Miles is one tough puppy!
I hope you’ve gotten past this horrible experience and you and Miles are back to your usual routine…?