This is a photogenic castle in Judendorf, Austria where Cathy and I had a lovely sunset dinner last night. It may be our last time alone for quite a while since, as of today, Luka is with us 24/7.
My confidence builds daily under Barbara’s capable tutelage. This afternoon we took a long stroll with Luka and Barbara through the old town part of Graz. It is a beautiful, romantic city but I didn’t see much of it because I was so focused on Luka and the distractions we encountered including MANY dogs, pigeons, tasty outside cafes, and a large man carrying a surfboard. During our excursion, we rode the tramway (a streetcar on rails) and explored a multistory shopping mall where I got my first stares from shopkeepers as I placed Luka in a down-stay and pretended to shop for jeans.
Later, after a walk by the river that bisects the city, we made our way to Glockenspielplatz (Glockenspiel Plaza) where we enjoyed great food and conversation with Barbara while Luka patiently lay by my feet ignoring the dogs, pigeons, and children walking through the plaza just a few feet from him. He was even able to ignore the yodeling accordion player near us. Luka tested my resolve regularly (totally normal) by standing up to tell me he was bored and ready to go somewhere else – an experience I am all too familiar with after raising four energetic boys. We saw the Glockenspiel chime -the clockwork figures danced when it was 18:00. After eating our Austrian meals complete with delicious apple strudel, we made our way back to the car where Luka fell asleep sitting on the floor at Cathy’s feet as I drove us home. He is one tired dog now and is sleeping peacefully in our room.
Tomorrow we will visit a grocery store with Barbara after Luka, Cathy and I hang out at a local park without Barbara to practice his commands. The fears I experienced earlier in the week are quickly dissipating as Luka and I negotiate the terms of our partnership. There have been many tender moments between us that have given me a glimpse of the bond we will forge in the days, months, and years to come.
Today was a very good day.