Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The healing power of love...and thoughts of redemption. A lesson we learned from our dog, Boo.

No, you aren't on the wrong blog.  You won't often read a post by me about our animals, but our dog, Boo, has a story worth telling.

We had a small dog (Short Stuff) that was dearly loved by both Jordan and Evan, but was Jordan's constant companion.  When Short Stuff died after being hit by a car, we waited several months to get another dog.  By the time we went to the Humane Society my kids were really wanting to have another dog...another dog that would fill that empty place in their hearts left by Short Stuff.  Jordan had decided that she wanted to adopt an ugly dog, a dog that otherwise wouldn't have a home.  That's my tenderhearted girl. I wanted our new dog not to be too terribly large, as it would be an inside dog, and hopefully not to shed too terribly as I'm allergic to dogs...all that extra hair every where causes me problems.  We had called the Humane Society and asked if they had any "not too big" dogs.  They told us about Boo, and we decided go see her and see if she seemed a good fit for our family.  Boo is an Italian Greyhound, or at least she looks exactly like the pictures of them in a book.  What we were told about Boo was that she needed a special home, someone who would be patient with her, who wouldn't expect too much right away.  She'd already been adopted one time and had been brought back!  She had been one of 15 dogs at a breeders and while we don't know if she was ever abused, she was most certainly neglected.  When the Human Society got her she was over a year old, but had no name, she was puppy #2.  After the first owners brought her back, someone from the HS fostered her, took her home for about a month, just to be sure what they could tell prospective families about her.  Thus...we were told she was very timid, afaid, not to expect too much too soon...but that she did not bite out of fear.   When we came to her part of the kennel, she was through a little door to the outside, and when we bent over to try to look at her, she started walking in circles it made her so nervous.   A volunteer at the HS went outside to get her for us and when we held and petted her she became so nervous she pooped all over.  Well, she wasn't ugly, but she was a sad case.  Just what Jordan was looking for!

When we brought her home, it was VERY slow going.  In fact for several months my kids felt a little jipped like they didn't have a "real dog".  For the first week we allowed her to hide a lot.  She would go in closets/secluded places and didn't want to come out.  When we took her outside, we quickly figured out we would have to use a leash...after Evan had to crawl under the deck to the farthest corner to pull her out when she hid there when we put her out to go to the bathroom.  She hunched over so when she walked, that when she later began to walk upright, we couldn't believe how long legged and tall she was.  She slept in the bed with the kids but that was the only time she sought specifically to be near any of us.  After several days to a week we started closing the closet doors and making it where she had to come out amongst us. She picked one spot on the couch she liked, that she thought was worth coming around for.  If someone was sitting there she would walk around and around until they'd move over.  She would allow us to pet her, but she didn't seek it out and didn't express in any way that she enjoyed it or wanted more.  There was no rolling over to get a belly rub, no licking us or rubbing against your hand as if she wanted more.  It was really strange.  She had no "expression" on her face if you know what I mean.  When we bought her a rawhide bone she didn't lick it or acknowledge that she knew what it was...same things with other treats and toys. The expression we used was that she wasn't a "real dog". 

Little by little, and I truly do mean little by tiny, little steps, we began to win her over.  It is unbelievable the lengths we went to show this dog love.  Let me preface all this by saying...ever since we had kids I have just not felt that I had time to spend with a dog..or any affection left over for them.  My kids keep me so busy, there was just nothing left over for a pet.  I always loved pets before, but when kids came along, they really took a backseat.  Well in all the winning over of Boo, she won me over.  I love that silly little dog.  We have had Boo now for eleven months.  There are some things we are still waiting for, but the progress she has made ever so slowly is so amazing to us now.  When I let her back in the house when she's been outside, she's jumping all around on my legs with excitement.  She LOVES for us to rub this certain spot on her back so when she comes up to us she turns immediately around to back up to us.  She licks us some now, we feel so special when she does!  We have taught her to play!  We will tease her with a sock and she loves to play with us with it.  The other night when we stopped, she went to a clothes basket of unmatched socks and pulled one out to play with.  Early on Boo never seemed completely relaxed, and while I think she still feels a little vulnerable if you push her over to rub her belly, she enjoys it enough now that she tries to lay there for a minute before hopping up.  She has the softest expression on her face now when we pet her, there is no mistaking that she enjoys it and keeps coming back for more if we stop.

When we 1st came home with Boo, we got online to read about her breed.  We read that Italian greyhounds are timid by nature and tend to be a little "catlike" in their personality.  We were really worried that she would never become the loving companion of a dog that our family had been looking for. For several months Jordan and Evan wanted to go back and get another dog, one that loved them back.  Even though we didn't expect immediate change and were willing to be patient, she took all the patience we had.  Now, almost every day it seems, Jordan and I talk about the difference in her, and are amazed the more and more she seems like a "real dog".

I truly believe we have learned an important lesson about life by loving Boo.  For so long we had to love her, getting little in return.  I looked in the online dictionary for the word redeem: to make up for; make amends for; offset...to buy back.  Finally, bit by bit we see a dog healed by love, redeemed...now a real dog.

For me this lesson is about a whole lot more than just one, particular dog.

1) Boo is who her genes "made her to be" and yet she is different than she might have been, because of the particular family she lives in.   Her experience in a loving family changed who she otherwise would have been.  This is true for all of us I believe.

2) There are a whole lot of people in this world that bear a great resemblance to Boo; they've been hurt and are hard to get close to.  They need the love of Jesus through us...there is no telling how that will affect them....


1 comment:

  1. Wow this is a very lovely story. What a beautiful dog and what amazing children you have to be the inspirations for choosing Boo.