Every dog is different; every rescue situation moves at its own pace. We focus on one at a time.
We’ve welcomed many on a continuum from super easy to what-the-heck-do-we-do-now scenarios. You’ve all been right there with us, supporting, donating, cheering us on. And we need it.
Mama Bea was hugely pregnant when she came to us a few months ago. Less than 24 hours later, she delivered 11 puppies. 3 weeks later, all 11 were not only alive, but thriving! All of that from a small 25 pound dog, thrown into a strange environment, surrounded by strangers.
The only part of her situation that she could control was the food that she accepted. Everything else was about instinct to care for her family. When she turned up her nose at kibble and canned, she got scrambled eggs, fresh cooked chicken, cottage cheese – anything to get some calories into that depleted body that was nurturing 11 puppies.
Once the pups were eating solid food and toddling around, our attention shifted to not just keeping them alive, but enriching their lives so that they’d turn into adventure-seekers, and not scaredy cats, afraid of every new experience.
Guess who took a back seat in that process? Bea. She adjusted, hanging back during puppy visits, watching and waiting for her opportunity.
As the pups started going to their forever homes, we made more of an effort to see who Bea really was – not mama, not stray dog, not rescue – but a dog in a family. She was not interested in other dogs, she was not interested in walking on a leash. Well, that’s our lives! What could we do?
We forced it by carrying her a half a block away to see if she’d walk on leash. We forced it by introducing her at a safe distance to our resident small dog. Results were ok, but not anything to write home about.
So we gave up. I resigned myself to thinking that our rescue days were over and she’d be our management project forever.
Then something very interesting happened. One day when we loaded the pups into the stroller for their enrichment, Bea went crazy. She barked and charged the gate. She clearly wanted to go with. I swear that when I have a litter of puppies, my brain can turn to mush. I didn’t clue into it until a few days later. Duh! Bea wanted to go with us! Breakthrough! This could be what she needed all along…
The next day, we loaded up the pups, harnessed Bea and….she trotted beside us for a bunch of blocks, 20 minutes of a real dog walk! While she wasn’t entirely comfortable for the whole walk, she did great! She walked on a sidewalk for many blocks. This dog who spent months with us, nurturing her puppies, giving her all to everyone but herself, watching her puppies go to their forever homes, took a regular old leash walk.
While fires rage across the ocean and neighborhood kids head off to college and nothing feels right in the world, my foster dog mustered all of her courage and decided to be a real dog.
Dogs give us an opportunity to be our best selves. Bea just showed me that after a bit of rest, anything is possible.