Truth be told, it’s not a perfect story. I wish it was. It’s pretty close, though, and we have many years to work the little things out. That thought alone provides great happiness.
I shared the story of our little rescue dog, Wellington, in a previous post and Wellie immediately gained a good number of people interested in his experiences. I wish we knew more about his life before we met him – the only sure thing is that it was hard, perhaps harder than we’ll ever know. He was terrified, dirty, distrustful, and was recovering from a very recent leg amputation. We have no idea if it was necessary because of abuse, being hit by a car, or another reason, but he had other injuries as well. My heart broke for him.
There were many dogs that looked so much better, and acted so much appropriately, at least the way humans have decided dogs must behave. There really was nothing to recommend him except that…well, he was him and our hearts quickly connected. He hoped – you could tell he hoped, so much, but he was afraid to try.
His amputation site healed well. We are grateful for a shelter vet in California, who we will never know, that took the time to do the job properly. We wish great things in life to come to the man who invests time and money, as so many do, in programs like Dog Is My Copilot. This is how Wellie ended up in Utah – truly, seeing him for the first time, it’s difficult to understand how someone felt he was worth the space on the plane, but perhaps they saw his potential, even in a tiny way, and gave him that chance. Those chances, those tiny little miracles in peoples’ hearts, change lives in ways they’ll never understand.
And us? Well, things are different around our house. We have always had big dogs, sometimes enormous dogs, who mostly lived outside. A small dog came into our lives here and there, but we generally preferred the gentle giants. Wellie is all of 19 pounds and should probably lose a pound or two. His mom should lose a lot more than that. We’re working on it.
I’m also working on not being the person who says things like “blankie” (which Wellie immediately insisted is a “manly sleep pad”) and “Ars you so happy??” because that just seems unsuitable for a moderately dignified and educated individual. Admittedly, it still happens on occasion.
Wellie still struggles with a couple of issues. He nips at some people, generally because of a painful problem with the back leg on the same side as the amputation. He needs surgery on it – it will not heal on its own. He’s protective of that leg and doesn’t tolerate anyone messing around with it. He sometimes nips at people for, seemingly, no reason too. I’m coming to understand more and more, though, that he is a homebody and, if such a thing exists, an introvert like his human mother is. Too many people, too much stimulation, and he starts to lose it. We’re addressing it as we can.
How wonderful it would be to say his behavior was perfect right from the start so adoption of shelter animals seems a benign and stress-free process. For the most part that is the case, but he isn’t perfect and we don’t expect it from him, especially since we do not know what he endured before we met him. But, we do expect him to learn and try, and that he does, in spades. He wants to please and it nearly does him in when he knows we are upset with him. I tend to think that is the case with most dogs, and therein lies the beauty of the relationship between humans and these amazing animals who only wish to be with us and enjoy love and security. We don’t get any guarantees, just as in life itself. But, without that guarantee, and the investment of more emotion and work, the potential payoff is that much greater.
This is not just about the size of a dog or the rescue of an animal that badly needed help, though. Maybe it’s also about seeing the world just a little differently.
Wellie began his own Facebook page and routinely keeps his online friends updated on his progress. What he has discovered, to his surprise, and ours, is that there are many people who are interested in his wellbeing. Many dogs have a number of people vested in them, but it’s strange, and wonderful, to our little Wells that people he doesn’t know care about his life and happiness. He gets to talk on his own page, with just a bit of help from us, and his friends respond to him in kind.
Wellie sees the world through a lens of acceptance and joy. He probably gives himself a little too much credit for the abilities he has, but he also loves to be included in things and see his human parents happy. When he goes through a trying experience his friends rally about him and provide encouragement and support. If his human mom is deeply sad or fighting illness he knows it and will not leave her side. He knows she loves him and will take comfort in his vigil. He finds things entertaining that, if we do not slow down and notice along with him, we might miss entirely. And he sometimes falls in the creek at home. Hey, no one’s perfect.
It is all too easy to anthropomorphize animals and see qualities in them we want to see. And yet, when this formerly scared and scruffy mess climbs on his mom’s lap and seems to smile hugely at her while panting from his exertions playing with his toys, it doesn’t seem a stretch to think he is as happy as he can get and that he finds joy in life now where there was none before.
The world is incredibly complex and, sometimes, distressing in many ways – we live in challenging and chaotic times, and many of us feel we have no voice or power to change what we see as damaging to our families, communities, nation, and the world in general. I have often scoffed at the usual saying that “if I can change one person’s life it will be enough” – I want to change many peoples’ lives and I have a lot to say. But, there are many voices and much deep-seated emotion in play – most of us are lost in the avalanche of words and issues.
And so, we save a little dog. Some of us save children. Some save veterans, or battered women, or family members who simply need a temporary hand. It seems such a minute thing it can’t possibly change the world, and in some ways it does not. But the ripple effect – that powerful, non-negotiable ripple effect – might, just might, put into motion something wonderful we could never have foreseen on our own.