There lies a magic in the touch of The Maremma Paw.
One simple glance of her rough pads and I know my Maremma sheepdog and I are connected on another level.
It’s one of the special ways she communicates with me.
It’s how she lets me know I am hers and I am safe.
A stolen moment
Yesterday was a play day.
We had work to do, so we gathered some friends for a day of dog photos at Farragut State Park.
Work is play.
Bella put in a hard day of work, teaching the other dogs how to model, watching them get rewarded with her treats and hiking 7 miles.
We stole a few minutes of rest, sitting together on the rocky beach at Buttonhook Bay while the others milled around. As we all chatted, Bella raised her Maremma paw and placed it ever so gently on my shoulder.
Our friends squealed with delight, whipping out their phones to record the ever-so-sweet moment.
It was over.
“Get her to do it again,” they pleaded.
It was almost as if she was saying The Maremma Paw is something only those chosen by a Maremma sheepdog should get to appreciate.
What The Maremma Paw means
It’s known as “The Maremma Paw” in our communities on Facebook.
Whether the dog is a companion or a working livestock guardian dog, all humans fortunate to know a Maremma sheepdog understand what the Maremma paw is.
This form of communication is consistent through most of the livestock guardian dog breeds: the Pyr paw, the Akbash paw, the Kuvasz paw, the Anatolian paw, and so on.
And other dog owners reading this will think “my dog does that.”
The Maremma paw is different.
It’s a gesture to let you know a few different things:
You are owned.
You are safe.
I am here.
Oh, Bella also uses The Paw to let me know I’m not done with scritches.
Why it’s special
Every dog lover has a special bond with their dog.
I know this.
I see it all the time in my dog photography business. When my clients share The Magic Moment with me, I feel ever so privileged to witness it.
They are little peeks into a very special relationship – sweet smiles, little kisses, gentle touches.
The human-dog connection inspires me on a daily basis, and I’m fortunate to have been blessed to have not one, but two very amazing connections with a dog.
Both on a different level than I’ve ever experienced with a dog before.
Not just because I’m an adult and my dogs are my dogs, not shared with my parents or brothers.
Not just because I am the sole human responsible for their care.
But because I’ve realized I have a deep soul connection to this breed. The Maremma sheepdog is more than an average dog.
She is noble.
She is dignified.
She is independent.
She is gentle, yet fierce when needed.
She is my partner.
My best friend.
The trust that develops between a Maremma and a human is not anything I’ve ever experienced before – with dog or human.
And she knows I am her guardian too.
The Soul Dog Journey Project
These stories of Bella, to be told every Monday in 2022, are part of the Soul Dog Journey Project, a mission by my friend Marika at @souldogcreative in Seattle. After losing her Soul Dog, Kerouac, last year, she’s put together a 52-week project that gets us telling the stories of how we are connected to our dogs and what they bring to our lives.
Each week, there’s a new story prompt to get our creative juices flowing. This week’s prompt focuses on your dog’s paw and what it feels like to hold it. I knew right away I had to write about The Maremma Paw..
Don’t be shy. Tell me in the comments about your dog’s paw and what you feel when you hold it. I’d love to hear about it.
And if you’ve found yourself here because you have a Maremma sheepdog that brings you a deeper connection than you’ve ever known, well, you just know.