Before I adopted Butters, I was on my own in Santa Barbara. I didn’t have a lot of responsibilities…only my job. I lived a block from the beach and in an area where there was plenty of street parking. Except for this one time after work, I pulled up to my apartment and could not park in front of the building. There were seven dogs on the street, all off-leash, sitting. I parked a few buildings down and edged past the dogs to my apartment. It was the usual, perfect Santa Barbara weather so I left the door open to let the breeze in. As I put down my bag and walked into the kitchen for water, I heard a familiar male voice outside. He had an accent and was speaking with much passion. I went toward the door and saw that it was the Dog Whisperer…Cesar Millan himself…in front of my apartment filming one of his shows. I took this as a sign. And within a few weeks, I adopted 1 year old Butters (formerly named Buffy) from a shelter in Compton, California.
Butters is the first dog I’ve ever had. And like any good parent-to-be, I researched how to introduce a dog into my single life. So before adopting her, I read Cesar’s Way. It just made sense, given my recent Cesar sighting. The main take away from the book was that you need to establish yourself as a “pack leader” with your “animal.” You need to show you’re in charge, otherwise the dog will take over on your behalf. So to this day, I establish myself by taking Butters on walks and making sure I control where she goes and when we stop. I never let her walk ahead of me.
There was a time for 18 months, when I lived with my parents so I could help my Dad when he was ill. Even though he was frail, my Dad wanted to take Butters on walks. In reality, Butters was the one who took my Dad on walks. I saw them once, walking past my window. Butters was the one leading Apa. She would stop and sniff whenever she wanted and Apa would stand by, leaning on his cane while Butters did her thing.
Today, I thought about Apa and was overwhelmed by memories of him. I burst into tears thinking about the last time he talked to me…when I stood by his hospital bed, holding his hand.
When my tears dried up, I took Butters for a long walk. And during our walk, she insisted on turning down a corner we had never been.
Rather than leading her, I let myself be led.
And aound the corner, we found the most cheerful row of flowers in Seattle.