In a previous post, I alluded to the resilience of dogs, how they can be mistreated and still give love. I think though that first they must know love.
Puppy came into the world around nine years ago. He would have been a cute puppy with a white streak down his nose and white paws with little black freckles on them. And like all puppies, he probably wanted to play with his siblings and explore the world around him and chase critters and make different inanimate, and perhaps animate, objects toys. He probably wanted to follow the humans around the farm and learn as much as he could, because Puppy was a herding dog and when dogs acquired intelligence, herding dogs acquired most of it.
Fate and people played a bad trick on Puppy. He didn’t find a home as a puppy so he was tossed into a shed with other unchosens. Sometimes he had food, mostly he didn’t. Sometimes he had water, mostly he didn’t. For two years he survived, by being the wallflower, the one who slunk away rather than being noticed. He learned how to play the game of waiting and watching and choosing when to sneak some food or water.
Weeks before Christmas, people came to the farm and rescued the 150+ dogs and other assorted animals. Puppy, who had been found in this shed with dead companions, discovered that another world existed. In this one, there were baths and food and water and neutering and dental work and training.
“J” sat with him, and he began to trust. When you’ve been found in a shed with your fur matted with muck and little food and little water, you don’t have any trust of people. They’re the ones who have made you afraid of doors being slammed on you or of feet being kicked out at you. But “J” spoke to him quietly. She didn’t slap him or kick him or close doors on him. For nine months, “J” was his friend. He acquired a name: Scout.
In September of that year, Scout and some friends were taken aboard a big yellow bus that eventually was directed east and he came to a new state, Virginia. To be frank, it was frightening as hell. He wasn’t happy. But he wasn’t as unhappy as he could have been either.
He had new dog friends: an old man named Shevy, who became his favorite playmate, a bossy lady named Cha, who told him what to do, and a cool laid back dude named Kasey, who he walked with in the woods every Sunday.
There was always more than enough to eat. And, when no one was looking at him and no one was at the water bowl, he drank as much as he could because there was always the fear that there would be no more water.
Scout learned and tried not to be afraid, but being unafraid to him was new and there were some things like fireworks and the washing machine on rinse cycle and little screaming kids and thunderstorms that would always frighten him and make him hide in the bedroom.
He learned to trust the two humans he lived with who bathed him and brushed him and cooed to him and gave him cheese.
Also, he learned a new word: flourish. It’s what you do when there is enough–enough love, enough food, enough trust, enough respect, enough bellyrubs. Enough of so many things that you never knew before in your life, but you know now and which make you tail-wagging happy.