A walk outside with two Shibas garners nothing but attention and pointing but we are often stopped during our walks to answer a few questions about our Shibas, most typically what breed they are and where they are from. I often tell them that Emi was rescued but I often wonder if my dogs are the ones that rescued me.
When Shio came along, he was so tough to train. He's incredibly stubborn and thinks beyond the amount that a dog should ever be capable of. His primitive side has taken over more now that he's older and it's a constant challenge every day to figure out what we need to do to have him agree to do what we want. Luckily, he came to us at 3 months old so we were able to mold him as much as we could before his natural instincts took over. Having Shio around has always been more of a partnership than an ownership form of relationship. He communicates to us through his body language, eye movements, and exasperated sighs of disappointment and we have to figure out the riddle of this sphinx. Being his primary caretaker, Shio challenges my mind every day and forces me to ask questions to analyze how we can train him to be more of a dog than the primitive beast that he can be. When I need to scold him for undesired behavior, Shio is willing to listen to me but still insists that he's right. Which means that next time the same situation comes up, he will make the decision to do what he thinks is right and take the blame after the episode. I love his stubborn personality but it becomes frustrating when all you thought you signed up for was a dog. Shio motivates my mind to calculate how to work together with him in our coexist. We don't act like we need each other but deep down we are more committed than we'd like to admit. He's our first dog and nothing could ever replace that.
Emi on the other hand, is my half lab half Shiba dog. She enjoys being near me and lying so close to me that she and I melt into one whole being. Very rarely do I need to scold her as she is so easy going and with the few times that I do she knows wrong and learns the lesson immediately. She feeds my soul and makes me feel like I'm taking care of someone who needs me to protect her. I find myself lying next to her morning after morning staring into her sleepy face as my ovaries explode from her baby-like behaviors. She shoves her face into my fingertips searching for scratches like a cat and needs me to throw balls and toys for her to chase. Most of the time, she's a timid little mouse who jumps at loud unfamiliar sounds when we're outdoors for walks and I wish with all my might that she will become a more confident creature. I need her as much as she needs me. What a wonderful feeling.
When it comes to the subject of heart dogs, it's really heard to define what that is. It's a feeling and the more that you force it, the less accessible it is. Just like trying to retain a fistful of beach sand by holding too tightly to it. I often wondered if Shio was my heart dog before Emi came along and I realize that I need both of them in my life to feel complete. Shio to challenge my mind and Emi to feed my needy soul. Maybe some people find that they have a heart dog with one dog but I'm lucky to have two that complement each other.
So the next time people ask, I'm just going to say that my dogs rescued me.