Saturday, May 8, 2010
Duchess--Story of A Forgiving Shelter Dog
This is the face of a dog who suffered terrible abuse, before The Buddy Foundation took her in. When I first saw Duchess nearly two weeks ago, she showed deep white scars on all of her legs where she had been tied up. Her tail ended abruptly, the tip having been cut off with a dull blade, reportedly a butter knife. Her underbelly was slack; she might have had a litter of pups recently.
To imagine what goes on inside the mind of a dog like this requires more courage than I can give myself credit for having.
It is difficult to look into the eyes of this dog, eyes that are resigned to accept abuse, eyes that silently beg for a gentle touch, and not wonder if she thinks that I will hurt her too, not marvel at her willingness to forget all that she has suffered at the hands of thoughtless, uncaring people.
Last week my friend David, a fellow shelter-caregiver, and I spent extra time with this unfortunate dog. When I approached her cage, duchess was wearing a Victorian Collar (or, Cone of Shame for those who saw "Up".) She had a minor surgery to stich her tail, and was biting the stitches, and so needed this annoying device to be worn around her head for a while.
Duchess never backed up, or appeared threatened by my approach. She was extremely gentle when I reached to put her walk-collar on, and attach a leash. In fact, she welcomed the attention of someone who moved slowly, talked quietly, and showed no fear or aggression. I stroked her head and rubbed her chest, and she looked at me with something like enormous gratitude.
When Duchess and David and I reached the grassy yard across from the building, we loosened our grip a little, but she did not want to strain, or chase anything or wander. Instead, she moved closer to us, hoping she would be scratched or petted.
It is even scarier to consider the mind of a human being who inflicts such suffering on an animal who so clearly has much joy to give anyone who gives her the smallest chance. The spirit of Maggie was nearby....
As I stroked the dog's warm black fur, scratched her neck under the cone (which made her kick with relief), and hugged her with all of the warmth and comfort I could muster, she pushed the cone against my face and licked my cheek.
There are not adequate words to describe the feeling of love and gratitude I had for this dog, who singled me out for companionship, seeming to thank me for such simple gestures of regard and affection. I will update everyone here on her progress, and what I hope will be a very quick adoption to a loving home.