So in a nutshell, here’s what’s happened:
Bosco’s learned how to be happy.
It wasn’t a light switch moment, and it certainly was a long time coming. But a few months ago, as he crossed the room in front of me, I knew it was true. He was walking around, with no particular destination, wagging his tail. Whatever he was doing and thinking about, he felt good. And safe. And happy.
Not gonna lie to you – I cried.
How did we get there? With lots of cuddles and trust-building. And canned pumpkin. And Blue Apron.
It all started when he had some allergy issues, and he got put on special “allergic boy” food – which gave him the Ass of Fire. I asked his doctor if that could be remedied, and he suggested pumpkin, which of course worked, and Bosco liked it. I changed his food from the stuff his doctor sells to Blue Buffalo, because it’s $50 a bag cheaper. Big boy eats a lot, and that adds up. The Ass of Fire stopped, and so did the pumpkin.
His allergies were just fine until this autumn, and it seem like the poor guy was gonna lick his toes off. So back we went to the doctor food. And the Ass of Fire. And pumpkin.
He was so happy to see the pumpkin that he got very excited about every meal – running in circles, bouncing up and down in anticipation, and nagging me when he thought it was close to suppertime. He’d never been enthusiastic about anything before, and I made sure to give him huge amounts of positive reinforcement.
Now he’s very excited about supper, and runs laps around the house in anticipation. I let him lick the pumpkin spoon (yeah, judge me – I don’t care), and he comes racing into the kitchen, with his tongue already in action before he reaches the spoon. It’s clear that it’s his favorite part of the day.
And that’s just the start of his culinary adventures. Bosco’s never been one to hang with me when I cook – too much clattering and cursing, I imagine. One day I realized I had been eating the same two foods for dinner, every other day, for months. I needed to get me some variety, but I’m not the sort of person who looks for recipes or plans menus. So I signed up for Blue Apron, which sends me two servings of three different meals, with all of the ingredients, every week.
Bosco thinks he’s hit the jackpot. Turns out he’s not disinterested in cooking and eating. He was just bored by my menu – without even tasting it. Now when the box arrives, he meets me at the door. After he’s had supper (let’s not be foolish), I unpack the box and he inspects the ingredients. He doesn’t try to take anything. He just sticks his head in the box and huffs everything. I think it’s the unusual ingredients that he likes – I’m pretty sure he’s never smelled lemongrass or kumquats before – but he’s curious and excited. And happy. Of course it doesn’t hurt that every so often he gets a little taste too.
These two super experiences let him discover what happy feels like. And he was able to piece some moments together. He’s happy when he’s tasting or smelling things – and I’m with him. He gets that same feeling when I praise him, so he knows my praise is good. He gets praise when he gets silly and we bounce and run around the house. And when he runs he gets that same excited feeling. And when he’s done running, he gets big cuddles and praise because he’s a big goofy good boy. And the cuddles feel good, so he randomly wanders over to me, flops down, and asks for more. He’ll nag me to get out of bed on a weekend morning because he wants to sit with me on the sofa and get cuddled for hours on end.
We both are.