Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Living with Daisy in the NOW

For those of us who have been lucky enough to adopt a second-hand dog, there is always the wondering that accompanies their entrance into our lives. We often wonder...
Was my dog loved in his former home? What was my dog's former owner like? Does she cower because she was abused? Was he treated well before he came to me? Where did he learn that quirky behavior?

For me, I never had any doubt that my last dog, Aspen, was loved by her former owners. She was such a loving and affectionate dog that I KNEW she had been loved and cared for during her early years. She displayed none of the typical behaviors (cowering, shaking, running in fear, etc.) that would indicate abuse or mistreatment. In fact, I was pretty sure that the decision to give her up was probably not an easy one. She was 9 years old, had medical issues, and likely cost her former owners a good amount of money. However, I did wonder why they surrendered her saying she kept jumping the fence when I knew that her nine-year old debilitated hips could never have allowed her to do so. Were they hoping to avoid giving her a death sentence by stating the truth? Did they surrender her because the medical issues just became too much? Or, as is often the case with an older and sick dog, did they surrender her to avoid having to make the decision to put her to sleep?

With Daisy, I often wonder a whole host of different questions:
  • How bad were her former living conditions?
  • Where did all the scars on her body - the spots where no fur grows - come from? Were they caused by another dog? Or, were they caused by the puppy mill owner himself/herself?
  • Was the puppy mill owner a woman? Is that why she is so comfortable approaching men - even ones she does not know? Is that why she is so tentative with women vs. men?
  • Did she live outside? Is that why her ears have scars? Did the flies bite them?
  • Does she like little dogs so much because they remind her of her puppies?
  • Why did the owner feel the need to tattoo a number in her ear (201)? Were all the dogs that lived at the puppy mill tattooed too?
  • Why was she surrendered to the service organization at age 4? How did she come to escape her personal hell?
I know that I will never have the answers I seek, nor am I sure that I truly want to know all that Daisy has been through, but part of me still wonders. When I am rubbing her belly, something she has only recently let me do, I see those scars and try to imagine what it must have been like for her. Disturbing thoughts I know. But, when you love a dog, a friend, as much as I love Daisy, you think that knowing what happened in the past will help you to erase those memories from her mind. The truth is that I can only start from here. Today. Now. 

What I do today can only have an impact in the future, not in the past. I choose to give Daisy everything she never had the chance to have before - love, kindness, the chance to run free in the woods, to experience new smells and new friends, and, yes, to have the occasional ice cream cone. Could a dog (or human) wish for any better?

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