Doggie Kindness

It’s the holiday season and all my favourite holiday classics are making their appearances on television.  As I watch Rudolph, I am recalling as a child how it upset me how mean Santa was to Rudolph when Santa saw Rudolph’s shining nose.  Poor Rudolph had so many turn against him, just for being different.  It seems so unfair, but then again, humans wrote the story and humans, many of us anyway, are flawed and many of us cast judgement on differences we don’t understand.  But Santa wasn’t the only one who turned  on Rudolph so did his reindeer friends!

Seeing this reminded me of my previous dog, Dupont, and how he and a group of dogs first made me realize what a wonderful world it could be if humans treated each other like dogs………..

Dupont, my precious collie/shepherd mix, passed away almost 4 years ago.  I have so many wonderful memories of our time together and one of those memories is a hike we were on with a hiking group we belonged to.

We were hiking in a beautiful conservation area, with lots of water falls, wooded areas and bridges.  Dupont had never been there before and was having a wonderful time.  That was until we got to a metal bridge that, for some reason, made Dupont nervous.  I tried coasting him over the bridge, he wouldn’t budge.  I went across it myself and called him over to me, he still froze in fear.  I tried and I tried, as all the other dogs and owners crossed and waited.

Dupont was not coming over that bridge, no way, no how!  One of the fellow hikers crossed over to Dupont and picked him up (all 100 lbs of him!) and carried him across.  Once Dupont was safely carried over to the other side, the hiker put him down.

The human in me thought for sure the dogs would now shun Dupont, not want to play with him because he was fearful of a bridge that they all crossed.  But of course that is not what happened.  What did happen is Dupont resumed playing with the other dogs as if nothing had happened and had a wonderful rest of the day.

I remember thinking, for the first time in my life, at that very moment, how much kinder the world would be if humans treated one another like dogs.18951321_10154477978116922_7367861375054891753_n

 

My Benjamin Button

Benjamin Button, that is my nickname for Dahlia, my Catahoula mix who I adopted last year, at 8 years old.  Dahlia’s story is recounted in my book and some of my blogs.  She constantly amazes me with her continuous improvement in both trusting humans and learning how to be a real dog.

When I adopted Dahlia I expected her to live no more than a year, she could barely walk and was afraid of everything and every one.  She hated going for walks and would often refuse to leave my buildings property and when she did leave the property, she would lay down and refuse to get back up.  She was so nervous and unsure a mere glance in her direction would have her coward and urinate on the spot.

So why do I call this girl my Benjamin Button of dogs?   Because as every day passes, Dahlia literally gets younger. These not so long ago memories seem like a lifetime ago. Dahlia is now 9-1/2 and I swear she’s going to live at least another 5 years.

Not only does Dahlia enjoy long walks, she loves to run and play with other dogs. The dog who used to watch Flipflop play fetch endlessly now plays fetch herself, and loves to have a toy or ball to carry around.  Each day Dahlia does more and more that makes her behaviour pass as a young dog, rather than a senior with 8 years of an abusive pass.

Last week on a walk with my neighbour, she was watching Dahlia prance around, something that always makes us happy.  She said to me, “I wonder what was going through her head two years ago when she was laying in a ditch thinking her life was over.”

“I can’t,” I responded, “I can’t even think  of this girl being left to die with so much life left in her.”  And Dahlia has SO much life left in her, she is literally the Benjamin Button of dogs, as every day I see this senior get younger before my very eyes.

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A play date with Ben

It’s always an adjustment when a foster leaves, and it takes a few days for my emotions and life to return  to “normal”.  I am grateful for the families that stay in touch and keep me posted on how the dogs are adapting to their new homes.  I love hearing about them and seeing photos.  And I love when a family takes the time and effort to reunite me and their dog!

On Sunday I was lucky enough to have a visit with Ben, now called Douglas.  I was delighted when Douglas’s mom got out of the car and told me that as soon as they turned onto my street Douglas had memory of the area and got really excited.

When Douglas got out of the car, he immediately remembered me and jumped on me to show his excitement.  He then excitedly say hi to Dahlia and Flipflop.  Much to my surprise, Dahlia was happy to see him and gave him a kiss. Flipflop was happy to see him, but not overly excited. As Douglas tried to engage Flipflop in play, Flipflop opted to stand behind me, communicating to Douglas, he did not wish to play at the moment.

We took the three dogs for a long walk and then for a run in a field, when we were done the three dogs were exhausted.

It was great but the best part, aside from seeing Douglas again, was seeing his changes.  Once called my “boggle head” dog, as he had such a large head on what appeared to be a tiny body, Douglas now has confidence.  So much confidence he stands tall, and no longer looks too short for his body.  His ribs are no longer evident, but he still still slim, just very muscular from the exercise and great food his mom gives him.

Douglas no longer hides at loud noises or lunges at bikes, he sits and waits for other dogs to pass him, and doesn’t shy away from people.  His mom has done such amazing things with him, and his life.

Douglas and his mom are still working on his training, and he loves it.  He wakes up every morning excited for his mom to put him to “work” and thrives when he can show off to someone how good he is.

I knew he was doing well, as his mom and I stay in touch, but to see the physical transformation of this young dog, made me happier than words can say!