Brian Wilson has attributed lyrics of the Beach Boys’ most successful songs to his mother. While walking around sunny California beach towns, town she would point to someone or another they saw and explain they were giving off an aura of generosity and kindliness. She called that invisible energy a “good vibration.” Aggie had vibrations too.
A clinician might be have a field day with Aggie’s psychosocial profile. There is at the same time a profound vigilance, for Aggie was an Australian Shepard, by genetic makeup perhaps the toughest of herding dogs engineered for moving steers as well as sheep. But with Aggie there was also persistent fear. The fear may have come from being orphaned at about three or four months of age when her original owner gave her up. We were told she was soon isolated from other dogs with a diagnosis of anti-social behavior. Apparently there were some fights. Aggie stayed isolated for months, growing up alone at a crucial developmental period when most dogs learn pack skills and trust.
Aggie’s startle reflexes were beyond the spectrum. She would lay teeth on us when we pet her. The head, the paws, the tail, the rump, all were off limits. Getting a brush through her matted double coat was rewarded with teeth clamped on forearm. The only way to build that social bond, we agreed, was intense love therapy. For me, this meant shelving all my survival instincts. We groped and groomed her. We brushed her teeth, we coddled and cuddled. And yet, she feared anything that touched her. And especially where she slept. One night, I must have accidentally touched her when I rolled over. I remember feeling her moist breath filling my nose, before I realized my face was inside her mouth. Her incisors pinched on either side of my forehead. I sat up and raked her teeth off my face. I asked Karen if I was bleeding, because I would need to tend to that.
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