2009/01/05

More on Redemption

I'll bet a weeks pay that some of you never had me pegged as a Sports Illustrated reader. Well, that's probably because I'm not. But, I did happen to see the issue that had this story.

It's related very closely to my last post about Hannukah, or Hanukkah, or even Chanukah. As long as you have eight letters, some of which are roughly equivalent to C/het, Nun, Vav, Kaf, and Hey, you're OK. It's mainly the C/het and the Hey that are problamatic. But, that's not what this post is about.

Once again we have a story of redemption. Proof that even the most hopeless cases can be turned around!

If you don't have time to read the whole story let me just give you the highlights: Once upon a time there was a man who did the very bad thing of making his dogs fight with one another. The dogs were so mean that even the People For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals thought that the "ethical" thing to do was to kill the dogs. That's right, PETA wanted to put them down. If you are a dog, and PETA wants to put you down... Well, talk about your hopeless situations. But, there were some other humans who came up with the apparently unethical idea of showing the dogs some love, taking care of them, and treating them gently. You all know how the dogs responded. They became gentle and loving themselves.

There is nothing, nothing, nothing, beyond the reach of love. And who is love? That's right... I don't have to connect the dots for you all.

I've often said that I can tell you a lot about a person by spending some time with their dog. It's absoultely true. Dogs that are excited and yappy often have fidigity and chatty guardians. Dogs that are calm and relaxed have guardians who are consistent and loving. There are varriations, of course, for breed and breeding. But, by and large, it holds true.

I once adopted a little corgi mix who had been so badly abused that my friend -- she was the original rescurer -- said she didn't know if he would ever be a good dog. And, it was true. The dog was broken. If I rustled the newspaper he would whimper, if I got up too fast he would run and hide. He didn't know how to play, and cried the first few times I tried to pet him.

Most annoying of all, he would leak a little urine whenever he was scared... which was pretty often. I am not one of those people who can put up with a smelly house and all that sort of thing. That's for the barn, not my house. So, I thought and I thought about what to do about the dog. Finally I realized that he lacked confidence, didn't have a sense of himself as a dog. So, I started bragging on him. Every time he'd leak a little I'd say "Gooooood Dog, you're a gooooood dog. I am so proud of you! You're a goooood dog." Every time. No matter what he did, I told him he was a good dog. In about three weeks he stopped leaking.

It took a long time with that dog. He always had trust issues. But, he did have a good life, learned to play, and he had a few friends whom he knew and trusted. I felt real proud of him because in the end he was a gooooood dog.

I really don't think anything is irredeemable. Sometimes it doesn't seem that way, I'll tell you that. But, the evidence for reedmability is there. It's in Hanukkah, in Michael Vick's dogs, and even in me, probably you too.

It takes work, it leaves a scar. Love is hard, but it does seem to work.

The waters closed in over me; the deep surrounded me; weeds were wrapped around my head...yet you brought my life up from the Pit, O Lord my God.
-- The Bible, Jonah 2:5,6

10 comments:

Wormwood's Doxy said...

Dogs that are excited and yappy often have fidigity and chatty guardians.

I confess that this observation has me somewhat nervous. Jasper is a maniac at times (especially when he hasn't gotten enough exercise).

But I love this post. And I agree--love is hard, but it heals a lot of wounds when it's genuine.

Pax,
Doxy

Ann said...

Our kids had a dog that they gave every chance - therapy, loving home, everything. But the dog could not be trusted not to attack them at any unknown unexpected moment. They spent thousands of dollars on her. They found her in the bayou of Louisiana - a beautiful chocolate lab. They think she escaped from a puppy mill. She was pregnant and gave birth to a silver, and 2 chocolate puppies (who are all fine). But there was nothing they could do to rescue her from her inner demons. They tried to find a place for her - there are some nuns and some others who take dogs like this. I think they did all they could do - and having her put down was the hardest choice for them - but correct I believe.

sharecropper said...

Praise and love are marvelous things - they even help humans - like me.

Diane said...

Lindy -- amen amen! You are the only place I'm visiting today, and I'm glad I did.

Do you know that the Humane society kind of recommended that we put Scout down, when she was a puppy? Because she was possessive. They didn't exactly say that, but they said, we need to take her to a behaviorist, it would probably be expensive, and it might not work. and if they had her, they wouldn't put her on the floor. Which means, that they would put her down.

She was 11 weeks old then.

Lindy said...

Well, Doxy, you have to take a lot of other things into consideration. My own little Rowan runs around the house like a maniac if he doesn't get his exercise. I'm sure little Jasper is as delightful as you! Mazl tov, btw.

Ann, you make a very good point and that is that a good result doesn't always look like we expect it to. What a tough, tough, decision it must have been to put to rest a dog in which so much love and energy had been invested. I feel my own heart hurt over that. But, I still believe that the love and the effort that went into trying to rehabilitate the Chocolate Lab wasn't lost. It went, instead, into helping her find a peaceful end. Not all dogs are destined for sofas and rides in the car, as much as we might want that for them. Some only want to be released from their pain, and they deserve that. You know, it's usually the dogs who are the heroes of our stories. In this one, the humans were. -- Stay warm tonight, Ann. I know it's snowing where you are. And make yourself a nice cup of hot Jell-O if you can.

Yes, ShareCropper, we all need a little love. I am going to send Diane to your site because she's a knitter too. Not yet as advanced as you, I don't think. But, you might be able to give her some pointers. Enjoy the shore!

I am glad you found Scout when you did, Diane. The little dog I told you about -- Major Nelson -- was rescued by my friend ONE day before he was going to be put down. If he had been a big dog, like the Lab Ann told us about, I don't know if I would have taken him. So much of life, it seems like, comes down to a day here, or a few minutes there. But, the dogs don't have any idea about that. It makes me wonder if we are all maybe more vulnerable than we think. Even I have been feeling vulnerable lately. Like a gust of wind might come through and I would just be gone. And I wonder if maybe I'm not too far off in that. I hope this life is more stable than I'm thinking. I really do hope so. -- Have a big time in the warm desert, and go visit ShareCropper.

Love to all, everybody, everywhere... there's plenty. Go on, let yourself be loved.

Ann said...

Thanks for understanding Lindy - I hesitated to share it because it was really really hard. And they really really tried.

Lindy said...

Yes, yes... I can see that. I don't think the universe gives those kinds of decisions to the faint hearted. It was hard, surly. But, they did the right thing. They gave the dog a chance, and all dogs should get that. And, then they had the good sense to be compassionate and give her a peaceful end. I am sure it is not what they had hoped for but they did the work of bringing love into the world. That's the thing.

Ellie Finlay said...

I adopted a rescued Anatolian Shepherd who had been abused and was truly a wreck when I got her. And I agree, Lindy, that consistent affirmation works miracles. I told Izzy she was a good dog hundreds of times each day and now she has amazing self-esteem!

But I don't think all my love and affirmation would have done the trick without anti-depressants. Izzy has been on amitriptyline almost since I adopted her and it has calmed down her irritability and her terrible, debilitating anxiety. The combination of TLC plus appropriate medication gave this dog her new life. I'm so glad she had a vet who suggested it.

Lindy said...

I sometimes wish I could give myself as much positive affirmation as I give my dog. I think it might work miracles on me too.

I am glad that your vet screened for depression. I think that many do not. (Well, human doctors for that matter...) You're a good egg, Ellie, and your dog is a lucky one.

Ellie Finlay said...

Thanks for the kind words, Lindy!

You know, I had the same thought about affirmation back when I first got Izzy (which was about 12 years ago. She's an old lady now and, I realize, not long for this world. Fortunately, Anatolians tend to live longer than other large breeds.) And I started doing it - that is, giving myself that same kind of positive affirmation. It worked miracles with me too and I highly recommend it!