It snowed a little last night and the sun is shining making the snow look luminescent like little diamonds. Beautiful. Except for the yellow snow, my dog must have been out there this morning. Speaking of dogs…
I have a seven-year-old Beagle/Fox Hound mix we adopted from a beagle rescue my daughter found online. We lost our ten-year-old beagle to cancer and she really wanted another dog to fill the void. Impossible. Why do we have such an emotional connection with dogs. Maybe they remind us of ourselves……of the potential for love, accomplishment, change, vulnerability…
So, how did we get our first beagle Kacy, you ask? My sister who was going through a divorce at the time had to move and came down for Christmas bringing the dog. We had lost our beloved Sheltie a few months prior. They went home and the dog stayed here.
She was a wonderful dog once we obedience trained the “Alpha” out of her and she became a member of the family rather than the “Top Dog” she thought she was over my youngest daughter. She nipped at my daughter leaving a red mark on her face. Of course, in all fairness my daughter at the time had been dressing her in a doll outfit!
We could have given up on her but didn’t because she had been given away twice before and at five years old with a history of biting we didn’t want to think of what would happen to her. With training, and boundaries for my daughter, the impossible happened (the animal behaviorist didn’t hold out much hope of changing her) but Kacy became a wonderful addition to the family. So, naturally when my daughter found the website for rescued beagles it was inevitable that Honey would be ours.
Honey came over for a test visit and her foster parents brought over a book about Omega dogs which are the bottom of the pack, usually the runt of the litter and very timid. She barely came in the house and when they finally got her in the door, she peed all over the floor and whimpered the whole time. She was a basket case of nerves. They found her on the streets with signs of abuse and mal-nourishment and explained her previous owner had chained her up outside all day. But in spite of that inauspicious meeting and all that baggage, we fell in love with her. She was seven months old when we signed the papers to adopt. She had a broken tail, scarred cut mouth and was terrified of men, umbrellas and flashlights as well as chain leashes. The list got longer as we lived with her and got to know her.
Honey has a very sweet disposition and lots of personality. She “talks” when we come home telling us about her day. She howls at the top of the stairs when she comes in from outside. She sometimes jumps for no reason and runs away. But all in all she has adapted well and is much more outgoing and happy than previously . She is now a very good watch dog.
Through the years she finally stopped peeing every time someone came in the front door. It stopped by about year four or five! I should have taken stock in Bounty paper towels and Lysol. She loves walks and loves runs when I take her in the summer. All beagles love to sniff and so walks turn into much longer odysseys than with other dogs.
I had an invisible fence salesman come over to give me an estimate on one for our yard. After he was all done spouting the benefits of this fence, and was ready to close the deal he asked me what kind of dog I had, to which I replied “A beagle”. “Oh, well they won’t work on beagles” he sighed. “They will get a scent of something good like a rabbit and bolt right over the electric barrier”. Okay, I thought, thanks for wasting my time. He could have asked that in the beginning!
She is a good judge of character of both other dogs and people that she meets. I trust her instincts.
She has come a long way from the timid, untrusting, afraid of her own shadow puppy she once was. She has recently been bold enough to start sleeping on my bed, which she is not supposed to do, after I go to sleep, she sneaks up and I awake with her sleeping next to me! Dogs know your moods, and know when you need them.
We could learn a lot from dogs. Dogs are like people…. some are sweet, some are mean, some are untrustworthy. Some are workers, some are dreamers, some bite and some slobber you with kisses! Some are alpha and some are omega. They can connect with us in a way our human counterparts sometimes can’t, feeling our feelings. And Dogs have infinite potential for change, If put into the right environment. That dog that bites can be taught to love and trust. The fearful dog can gain confidence, trust and love. The potential for change is great. The potential for greatness in a dog is great. Look at all of the skilled dogs who give their lives to help people or who can do tremendous feats. People also have the potential with change to better themselves, for happiness, for love, a new career, a better life….but ours is a choice and because of that we often cling to the familiar because it is easier and we have a fear of the unknown. We convince ourselves we can’t do it, shouldn’t do it. We might fail, we might look foolish. We might make a mistake. So how do we know if we should stay doing what we are doing because it is safe and familiar or whether we should change, trying something new? Unlike dogs we have the power of choice in our lives and maybe if we have the courage, maybe if we believe in ourselves, maybe if we realize this isn’t a dress rehearsal…maybe, just maybe……we will take a cue from Man’s Best Friend, even if it hurts a little in the beginning……Zap! And go for that Rabbit….
Move over Honey…after all it’s just another…….