I woke up to find Minnie, Mickey and Mason the dog lying on the floor of Minnie’s room. Mickey was singing our last name out to her, one letter at a time. He was teaching her to spell her new last name, in preparation for the adoption. I stood in the hall, out of their view and cried. These were happy tears. They were giggling, singing and snuggled with their new puppy. It was a delightful moment.
Mason also proved to be both a pain in the rear and perhaps the best thing we could have done. He was an excellent coping skill. Never going to be accused of being the smartest dog on the block, he would walk right up to Mickey during his rages. Mickey wouldn’t hurt Mason, I was pretty sure, but I kept a very close eye. Something miraculous happened though. When Mickey spotted Mason he would drop to the floor and Mason would lick his ear. Mickey would be giggling in seconds. Rage over. He would sit with Mason until fully calm and move on. We hadn’t ever seen this before.
We were a month into 6 days a week therapy. Elise came out for the final visit with the release paperwork needed for me to file for the adoption court date. Mickey was thrilled. Minnie asked if she could finally get her ears pierced (not permitted while she was in foster care). Things were still brutal, there was trouble at school, Mickey was highly unpredictable, but there was progress. A light at the end of the tunnel….
I don’t know if it was the therapy, the dog, the adoption finalization, or finally settling in as a family, but things were better. I think it was a combination of all four things, plus it is possible that I was starting to get a handle on this parenting thing. Mason chewed everything in sight and proved to be a Houdini when it came to crates, Minnie was glued to his side, Mickey just seemed calmer, overall. He was starting to identify anger using a color chart the therapists and the school were using. It was a thermometer and while he didn’t use the word anger, he would tell me he “was on red” and we would do deep breathing or what he called lion breaths. That was maybe 5-10% of the time, but that meant 5-10% less rages. Progress….