Shadow

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At the time when he could barely find his place in the car, he was hot, tired and gave the impression of sadness. He couldn’t really figure out if the honks were bothering him, the other animals or the human society. His only sanctuary was his room at home where he had a cage, toys, food and a space big enough for him to jump and play, and none of those were near him. He was only 4 months old, but his eyes spoke more.

This is the story of a young wolf-dog that travelled all the way from Romania to Beirut to meet his owners. His life was not easy and his personality wasn’t as weak as many thought. Why would they think such a thing? First of all, after having all his shots his owners weren’t so easy on him because the most important thing for them was a disciplined dog. Secondly, his breed required him that he must be the alpha or the omega; therefore if his owner would take the alpha position he would become a submitting puppy that is harmless, obedient and basically, as many would put it, unworthy of his breed.

A wolf-dog, half wolf half dog, filled with the wild spirit and nature’s instincts. He became a simple house pet or at least that’s what most considered him to be. But did he really lose his uniqueness? Shadow was more than just a house pet. He was stubborn, sometimes aggressive and his eyes were wild. His silence gave him a diplomatic touch and his colours were like autumn; a combination of reddish yellow with white and grey, just like the tree leaves. If you left him in the forest, he would blend in better than a chameleon. Most of the people said he’s a Husky . Others said he’s a kind of Shepard. Well, whoever knows how a wolf looks like will figure out what Shadow is.

On November 24, 2013 a new litter came into this world. They were all small, cold and hungry. Kira, their mother, took good care of them and cater for their needs. Their father was the proudest wolf-dog in the world, and the family who had them was amazed by their fragility and innocence. However, all five of them couldn’t stay young forever, and with the passing of time the family that had their parents had to give them away. Four males and one wonderful female found new homes all over the world.

One of them, the most special pumpkin that was the youngest and the strongest, found himself in the airport at the age of 8 weeks. Weird experience for a puppy, very weird. All their world turns out of a sudden upside down. They find themselves among busy people, who don’t even pay attention to them. It is sad how much the world has changed. People do not appreciate beauty anymore. Sometimes they even get annoyed by it. They pass by a cute puppy like it was none of their business, like it would make them lose their flight. One or two souls come and say “hi” to the little wild-ling. At that moment you realize how important attention is; when a puppy wags his tail crazy happy because someone addressed him on a nice tone. Humans would act the same I think, but they don’t really deserve it.

The breeder’s flight is from Bucharest to Istanbul only. He needs to meet the future owner half-way in order to escape stupid cargo taxes. But if we compare with the trouble one can go through by getting a puppy on board, the taxes wouldn’t sound that bad. The conversation with the airline company prior to the flight sounded like this:
– “Good day! I would like to bring a puppy with me on the plane and I would like to know the terms and conditions.”
– ” Good day sir! First, please buy an airplane ticket, then send a request to the agency for the transportation of a puppy mentioning his weight taking into consideration the cage also and the dimensions of the cage, and afterwards it will either be placed with you in the plane or in the luggage compartment. If he weighs less than 5 kg and the dimensions of the cage are 42x30x21, you will be charged 50 euros and the pet can go on board.If it’s more, then it will be taken in the luggage compartment. ”
– ” Is it safe? Are you sure that I can get the dog with me no matter what?”
– ” Yes, sir.”

With all this said and done, the owner buys a ticket for the breeder and they send a request for a puppy that weighs less than 5 kg. Everything goes great, everybody is happy, but one morning little Shadow seems to weigh around 5 kg without the cage. Another request is sent, but this time they reject it. The entire world turns upside down. The breeder cannot sell his puppy, the owner cannot receive his dog and loses the money he used to pay for the flight and the airline cannot give any solution except “change the flight with one on which we can take the puppy on board”, which of course means “pay the tax for the flight change”. Why is all this happening? Because the airplane for the scheduled flight does not have a pressurized luggage compartment, and the puppy exceeds their generous limit. After this news the conversation with the airline unfolds differently:

– “Good day! I would like you to solve this situation because it was your operator’s fault! I am not a specialist in airplanes and you told me to buy the ticket first. Why is that? Why can’t I first make the request?”
– “Sir, we are sorry, but we do not take responsibility of your actions. It was your decision to buy the ticket from an agency other than ours. We do not pay for mistakes made by the customer. ”
– ” I beg your pardon? Your operator should have told me to make sure that the airplane has a pressurized luggage compartment! I should research this by myself? Plus on one of the sites where you are advertising your tickets it shows that the airplane is an A330. It is written only on your official website A318. This is how much research I should do before buying a ticket? It’s completely absurd!”
– “Sir, please calm down and take into consideration paying the extra fee in order to change your flight.”
– ” Now I should pay for your mistake? No way! You do something and make it happen. I bought this ticket due to the dog. I even mentioned this at the beginning and I asked the operator if she is sure that it is safe. This is unbelievable!”
– ” Sir, would you like to make a complaint? I don’t have all day standing here, listening to your nagging, which is clearly because of something you did.”
– ” Of course! Tell me where do I call or what do I have to fill. I would be glad to!”
– ” Just send an e-mail to our customer support center and write exactly what happened.”
– ” My pleasure miss!”

After a few hours the complaint was sent, the owner’s blood was boiling and the operator was not happier either. Nonetheless, each continued stubbornly until he sent them a message saying:
– ” For God’s sake, it’s 1kg extra. Can’t you make an exception? Who knew he might get that big in just a few days. Plus how in the world should I know that you do not have the appropriate equipment for any circumstances? Please make an exception!”
– ” I sent the request for the puppy as you sent it the first time. It will go on board. Next time make sure you won’t buy tickets from agencies whose actions we don’t take responsibility for.”

That was the e-mail that relaxed everybody and allowed Shadow to travel by plane. Luckily, the breeder also knew some people that were working at the Security Department, therefore he had no problem taking the dog in. As for the owner, his situation was the last of the worries. He is a pilot. He was coming from Beirut for free and he could take back with him any kind of luggage.

Shadow first saw how an apartment looks like on January 20 when the breeder took him home. A long night was standing before him and he had no idea what were to follow after it. For as much as he knew, he had a soft bed and great people around him; people that he was seeing for the last time. The wife took him immediately under her wing. She played and pet him for two long hours. However, when the time came, the 2-month old puppy had to go. And so, his journey began.

It didn’t take long and the wolf-dog found himself inside a backpack, which was placed inside a car. That night he had nothing to eat or drink due to possible travelling issues. The night was clear. The moon and the stars were lighting the road to the airport and were winking at the poor puppy. He had no idea what was going on. His mother was no longer there and he had no more brothers to play with. The only thing he could do is chew the backpack in which he was trapped. That would had been great. He would had managed to escape and gain freedom. Would it had been better like this? Does freedom mean being alone? Does it define running from whatever makes you feel unsafe? Many people would probably say “yes”, but it’s most probable that they are also trapped in some kind of situation that makes them wretched. Freedom means happiness, not loneliness. Shadow was about to discover which one he would experience.

The drive took around 4 long hours. Hours in which the only thing you can do is think. Another curse. Dogs are lucky. They don’t really think like us humans. They just live the moment. Lucky bastards. They know a kind of loyalty humans cannot imitate. Our overthinking is overrated. Some say it’s good, some say it’s bad, but no matter the case it leads to tension, to analyzing, to debate. Things have to be overthought. They cannot be left alone, and people cannot go on with their lives without analyzing. Why is this better than that? What if a better decision can be made? Everything has an explanation. Every word has a definition and everything has a meaning. For Shadow the only thing that made sense that night was being petted. Everything else was knew.

After they arrived at the airport, Shadow found himself in a bee hive. He looked so tired, he was literally overwhelmed. It was just too much for a puppy. He was sleepy and the chattering noise was annoying him. The seats weren’t comfortable, thus he couldn’t find his place. The backpack he was staying in limited him a lot, but fortunately the breeder opened it whenever he can so he could move. People passed by and didn’t even throw a look at him. It’s funny how in an airport the only things that matter is to pass security, have the passport and the boarding card, and reach the gate. Shadow didn’t care about any of those. As far as he was concerned, this place was filled with creatures walking on two legs who look too snobbish to pay him attention, so eventually he decided to sleep. Figuring out that you cannot do anything else than what’s best for you is no simple awakening. Most of us need years to realize this. A dog needs a second. He cannot play, he cannot bark, he’s going to sleep or at least resign and wait.

After the puppy was boarded and flew above the place where he likes it the most, he found himself in another airport, ten times more crowded and more annoying. The night was over. A new morning came; a morning that brought a new person in his life: John, his owner.

They spent all day at the airport, in the Business Lounge, where the puppy started to discover new things. This little creature was thrown directly into a world of technology and luxury. His only desire was to chew and to lick, to destroy better said, and he wasn’t allowed to do any of those things. He couldn’t even relieve himself in that area. However, the last part was hard to avoid because nobody can mess with nature’s will. That was a very long day, filled with anxiousness and care. John’s wife was waiting for them at home and worrying for the puppy. Her husband didn’t look so good either, but she knew he could handle things. He is a tough one. She wasn’t sure for the puppy, though.

The minutes seem like hours, and the hours seem like days, but eventually, after counting seconds, they departed towards Beirut. This city, filled with danger and gossip was waiting for a puppy that will emphasize them more. A wolf was coming to Beirut, thus danger. A cute wolf, an unknown breed, on the other hand, meant more gossip. Well, maybe Beirut is not a city of danger and gossip literally, but we could say it is a city of adventure and comments. Everything is debated, everything keeps you on your toes. Chaos is a predominant factor in this part of the world, and the little wolf fits perfectly.

His owner ordered DVDs and special equipment for training from America. This method, which is not quite liked by most trainers, is one of the few that would have success with this kind of breed. It is not harsh or out of the ordinary, but it is defined by discipline. The puppy had no idea that as soon as he will be old enough all his whims will grow out of him. Everybody felt pity for him because this is not how everybody handles their dogs. Well, people don’t handle their own life very well. No one is expecting them to know how should they handle other creature’s life. It’s really funny how everybody has the perfect advice, but after it doesn’t work, they come up with a stupid line such as : ” well, I’m not Nostradamus!” Then don’t stick your advice on other people’s throat. In any case, his owner is the kind of guys who don’t listen to anyone’s opinion, except if he is an expert in a field, which he knows nothing about. In conclusion, the dog was to be trained as he wished.

This is how a wolf arrived in Beirut. Due to a long time dream of having a dog and due to a wife who loved wolves. Was is it a mistake? Taking care of a wolf-dog puppy is not an easy task. Apart from all the sleepless nights, because he needs to pee every 2-3 hours; all the chewing, because he is teething; all the whining, because he cannot stay alone; and all the trouble caused, because he is an animal; one has to know how to make him part of their life. Why? It is stressful, annoying and cumbersome, but it is also rewarding. For animal lovers, having a dog is one of the best things, and all the adventures that follow make your life much better and much more intense than that of the average human. Going through a lot of trouble was not really John’s plan, but in the end, he managed to see that not everything can be planned; therefore, not everything can be predicted. A puppy is exactly what he needs in order for him to be ready for a child, even if this is a far future aspect.

Now, he’s taking his afternoon nap. After a long walk, some distractions that always make him lose focus from the training, and a quick play, Shadow is quiet. The weather is getting hotter, the walks are consuming more of his energy, and his wolf instinct and appearance are more obvious. The wind is blowing slowly, and the waves hit the cliffs. A lovely afternoon here in Beirut, where kids have just arrived from school and started to argue with their parents and play outside. None of this matters to Shadow as long as they won’t allow him to bite him. He doesn’t care about those who do not play like he wants. He has learnt the hard way to be quiet and wait for his turn. Nonetheless, having patience is a very important quality. We humans lack it more than dogs. Shadow can be still considered human at this stage. A long road awaits him and his owners. A road where the greatest virtues of life will be taught.

As the sun is preparing to set, his owner is heading home from work. Shadow waits for the alpha calmly, even if he doesn’t really like it. However, he knows that this balance is very important in his life: he needs to know his place in the pack.