Lately it’s been dawning on us that we might have turned Millie into a bit of a brat. Early on, trying to convince her that the world contains good things, my husband started saving her the last bite of his scrambled egg. This dog who for more than a year was almost entirely silent now barks impatiently if she believes he’s taking too long to finish breakfast. This dog who had to be tricked into eating now knows exactly when the clock strikes 5 and paws at me unceasingly until I feed her. This dog who feared all strangers now greets guests with a level of exuberance that not all guests actually welcome. She drinks out of unattended coffee cups, makes herself at home on the afghan my great-grandmother crocheted, rifles through open drawers in hopes of discovering a cough drop. She has stolen a lot of cough drops.
People who haven’t seen her in a while invariably make some version of the same observation: “This is not the same dog I met last time.” But she is the same dog. She’s just a happier, braver version of herself. Perhaps most remarkably, her fears continue to fall away, day by day, the longer she is here. Even now, she is not yet the dog she is in the process of becoming.