Random Musings on Dogs, Photography, and the Vagaries of Life

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Just another "extra"ordinary brown dog

A first glance, the 10-month-old puppy looked like just one more plain--albeit dark--brown dog: ordinary, nondescript, forgettable. But first glances can be deceiving.

Take the word "brown" for example. It can describe so many of life's treasures and pleasures: the crispy saltiness of pretzels; the rich creaminess of hot fudge sauce; the weathered texture of tree bark; the sparkle of smokey quartz; the glossy sheen of a chestnut mare's coat.

In the case of this deceptively unremarkable dog--named Devon by his foster family--brown is of the deep mahogany variety, shot through with unexpected golden highlights. And it sets off a pair of equally striking brown eyes.

I had ample opportunity to gaze into these eyes while caring for Devon last weekend because he spent a lot of time looking at me. And as I glanced into their amber depths, I discovered a very special dog indeed.

First and foremost, Devon is a dog who desperately wants to love and be loved, a dog who craves attention but doesn't have complete confidence in the dependability of the human species. He bestows doggy kisses with great enthusiam but also a touch of desperation...as if he is trying to convince both of us that he is worth my time and attention.

As sad as such insecurity makes me, it probably isn't surprising considering that Devon spent most of his short life in a backyard, not abused or legally neglected, but always relegated to the role of observer of--and never participant in--family activities.

Also not suprisingly, such human indifference has also led to separation anxiety. The day after Devon arrived, I put him in a large, lightweight, collapsable metal crate in my office for three hours while my husband and I went out. Upon our return, I discovered an empty crate with the door still latched, and Devon standing in the center of a pile of books, knick-knacks, and torn mini-blinds. Poor boy!

Over the next couple of days, I put Devon in a crate (a much sturdier one) for a half-hour or hour at a time...always with a treat, such as a frozen peanut butter-stuffed kong. Each time, he seemed less stressed. My sense is that while he may never love being crated, he'll accept it when necessary. And as his fear of abandonment decreases, he may not require crating at all, especially if he has a canine companion to keep him company. Even when he created chaos in my office, he didn't chew a single inappropriate item.

In spite of, or perhaps because of, his questionable past experience with people, Devon is incredibly eager to please. He's also smart. He already knows how to sit although the concept of "stay" seems foreign to him. He walks well on a leash and doesn't pull...unless he spots a squirrel or all other small mammal.

Mostly, he just wants to be near his people...an incredibly appealing quality in a dog.

Each night, as we climbed into bed together and drifted off to sleep, I bet our dreams were the same: for him to find a family who will see how special he is and will give him the love, care, and attention that all good dogs deserve.

To learn more about Devon and how you can make his dream come true, click here.

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