Friday, 27 May 2011

Broken and Grown

Last night I felt like a broken woman but from the experience I’ve learnt a lot.

When we got our dog Harry, I was aware that we had taken on a lot of hard work. He had been mistreated and was bound to have been affected by his past experiences. We took on the responsibility knowing that there was no history or information on his life to use as a guide and that it was extremely important that we didn’t give up as we would then add to his problems. With all the good intentions in the world and a full love of animals we brought him home.

His first week with us was not the way we’d planned. Within 48 hours we had found out that his neutering was infected and that he should never have been released to us. We willingly paid for his treatment to correct the problem but was told that until his infection had been identified we should not introduce him to the cats. We knew the longer we went without them meeting the harder it would be but we wanted to protect all our animals and so we adhered.

Poor Harry spent the first 10 days with a bucket collar on. Not good for his street-cred LOL.

During those first 10 days, Harry began to show his personality. He had obviously not had any discipline or training and so behaved like an excited puppy even down to biting (not viciously) and bouncing over us and the furniture, and chewing everything in sight. He’s a powerful dog with his staffy make-up and with Pat’s disability, I have had to do most of the tugging and absorb most of the biting to try and bring him into line.

Once the bucket collar came off, I thought walks would tire him out so I started a regime of 4 walks a day of no less than 30 minutes. It didn’t help. I believed that God had sent him to us, not just to help him as the infection would have killed him but for him to teach me patience.

The best investment we made was paying for a dog trainer to come and meet Harry and help us to try and get some respect into him.

We’ve had him with us for nearly three weeks now but last night, I was tired, I was behind with writing my service for Sunday and I felt guilty that my lovely cats hadn’t been allowed to roam their own home as if they had done something wrong. I had spent the last 2.5 weeks looking on the bright side and that we would get there in the end but last night, I felt my will break. I felt I couldn’t handle any more and that I would have to break my own rules, do the very thing that I find disgusting in others and take him back. I couldn’t sleep for fear and worry of what he was doing or destroying. I couldn’t get on with anything in the house because he was so unruly. I had hit the bottom.

I got up this morning feeling dreadful, tearful and beaten. When Pat got up I told her I couldn’t take anymore and that I would be returning him back to Cheshire dogs home this afternoon. Problem was that I love him. The idea of letting go of him hurt as much as what we’d been going through and the idea that I’d be doing him damage by taking him back was like a knife.

Thank God we had invested in a dog trainer. A 30 minute phone-call with him early this afternoon laid all our problems to rest. I’m not saying that Harry is any better behaved now than he was this morning but the trainer put some more rules down and even suggested a crate to put him in as a doggie den to give us a rest.

I’ve put the new rules into effect and there is already a marked difference, however, much as I had always thought it cruel to put a dog in a crate, I have to say, not only has it given us time to breathe and let the cats back in the living room to socialise with us, but Harry actually seems to like the crate. The dog trainer did tell us this might be the case as dogs like somewhere they can think of as their own den.

There is no way I intend on sending him back now and both Pat and I are extremely grateful to our fantastic trainer for his support.

I have to say I have learnt so much from the experience of having Harry that I can now see how it’s possible to love someone or something so much but still feel that it would be better to part, and how much the idea of splitting up must hurt. I’m not presuming for a moment that I could ever know what divorce feels like or handing a child over to social services. I’m aware we’re talking about my relationship with a dog, but some experiences are sent in different clothing in order for understanding to be real towards the feelings of others.

I guess God really has sent Harry to us to work on us as much as we have to work on him. Who says things don’t happen for a reason. These lessons could never be learnt in a college.

Harry Tobias, we’ll get there boy 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Shammy, I have used the term 'it's just a dog' but it really doesn't ring true to me. What does that mean - that he has no value and that your feelings for him have no value? In showing commitment to our pets we are showing commitment to ourselves and to the world. We need to live in harmony with all of creation. And as you write, sometimes we need to ask for (and at times pay for) help. For me our spiritual lives are all about relationship and how we are within relationships - honouring our connections. Your family seems to be doing very well. One thing that I learnt with my dog Sadie who passed last year is that their rules are not the same as ours and we do them a disservice not to learn theirs. Seems to me a bit like God - we think that the spirit works by human rules and I suspect that that really isn't the case. If only there was someone like Cesar Millan for the spirit world! Louise xx