Monday, April 5, 2010
Seeing through the Eyes of a Rescued Dog
Since fostering rescued dogs has been a fairly significant activity in my life over the past few years, I thought I'd share the following reflections based on my experience with one of these wonderful dogs...reflections that were originally posted as part of the blog of the SPCA/Humane Society of Prince George's County:
Sometimes we forget that the ordinary, everyday world can be an exciting, surprising, and even scary place…when seen through the eyes of a dog just rescued from the concrete confines of the shelter. Objects, environments, and situations that we ignore or take in stride can cause very different reactions in a recently “liberated” canine.
Take Kourtney, one of our recent foster dogs, for example. When she arrived at our home, she was afraid to even come inside, much less go up or down stairs. A couple of days later, having mastered the stairs, she noticed a life-sized statue of a small puppy standing near the wall in our den. She crouched down, belly to the floor, stared, and began to growl. I had to turn the statue on its side and hold it in my lap before she would approach to sniff it. We repeated the process several times before Kourtney was completely convinced that this very still dog who showed no appropriate greeting behavior wasn’t a threat.
One night while I waited for what seemed forever for her to “go potty,” in the backyard, Kourtney spotted a cicada as it flew clumsily onto a low-hanging trumpet vine branch. She watched it intently for a moment and then made her move, knocking it to the ground and pouncing on it with apparent glee.
And the next day was the day of the pinecone. While on a walk, Kourtney suddenly froze in that position that suggests uncertainty about whether to advance or retreat. I couldn’t figure out what had spooked her, but then noticed a pine cone lying in the dirt. She stared, circled it, and stared some more. Tentatively, she touched it with her nose, only to jump back in surprise at the sensation. She circled some more, touched it again, then gingerly picked it up and carried it proudly for a few moments as we walked before dropping it as if it were of no further interest.
Kourtney’s stay with us was characterized by such small but momentous discoveries…discoveries that I feel blessed to have share with her. Ahhh, to see through the eyes of a rescued dog.