Confessions of an imperfect dog mom…who really trains who?
This is Turnip. Turnip was rescued from this chain and post in January of 2014 by SOAR, a local rescue group here in Kentucky. He was grossly underweight. He had ringworm, hookworm and heart worm. He also contracted hyptoplasmosis (a fungal infection that forms in the lungs from exposure to bird feces). The hytoplasmosis nearly killed him…he is still battling it but gets better every day. Turnip is freightened of everything (especially men). Check out the size of the chain and the collar on him…which by the way collapsed his trachea. When Turnip was found (in January) he had no shelter, no food and no water…had he been there much longer he probably would not have survived.
Turnip went to his first foster home where he could rest and recover physically. But he just wasn’t making any progress from a social stand point; he was afraid of everything and everyone.
As fate would have it, Turnip came up in casual conversation at lunch one day with a friend from SOAR. I thought that my dog training skills might be able to help Turnip come out of his shell. A few days later he became our first foster dog. Since his arrival I have felt a heightened and unsettling sense of anger towards people who abuse animals. Turnip is so gentle and innocent and has suffered greatly by human hands.
As a dog mom I like to think I am important to my rescue dogs development and happiness but the reality is there are serious limitations to what I can do for them. When Turnip came to our home my own dogs took command of the situation and began doing what dogs do best…being dogs. They are showing Turnip the ropes…teaching him how to play and to know what is safe and good…with each passing day Turnip is coming a little more out of his shell. Instead of pacing neurotically in the yard Turnip now runs, jumps and does play bows…his tail is up and wagging just as it should be. When a loud thunder scares Turnip, instead of running under furniture…he jumps in my lap…not because I am special but because the other dogs do it. Turnip has also become very comfortable with our household routine and is picking up house training and basic commands with very little help from me (so much for being the expert).
Bret and I are earning Turnip’s trust a little more each day…Turnip eats from Bret’s hand and likes to hang on the couch with the family…this is big for a pup who fears men.
Turnip has taken to our labs like he has known them all his life. He follows Sam (our chocolate lab) every where he goes and often when we are on the couch he sits right on Sparky…who doesn’t seem to mind. He takes no crap from our sassy Lhasa and he is very gentle with little old Kringles (our Pom). We both think that the Turnip is the sweetest and gentlest creature we have ever had the pleasure of knowing. When Turnip makes a new step (walking up the steps the first time)…we clap and cheer…we like to think that the 9 of us our Turnip’s Team.
It never fails that every time my bleeding little heart thinks its time to step up to the plate to “help” another dog it is always the dog who changes my life. Turnip is figuring life out at his own pace. Sure, I will teach him a few things and help him through some of his fears…but the reality is Turnip has had a much bigger impact on me. He has reminded me what true goodness is…that it is simple and it is all around us…that trust is earned slowly but is worth more than gold when it is achieved.
From a practical standpoint, this was not the right time for us to take in a foster dog…we just moved to a new state, we are remodeling our house, we have 7 rescues of our own and my husband just started a new job. But as it turns out Turnip has arrived just when he was suppose to…he had work to do here…he has reminded us both that we need to slow down and enjoy the greatest things life offers us…our loved ones. We aren’t a conventional family; two humans and house full of rescues…but we are happy one and we take care of each other and as a group we have a lot to offer others…love, patience, enthusiasm and compassion.
Since Turnip has been here we have had several really bad storms…including a hail storm that damaged our cars and home. The night of the hail storm I was out with Turnip and Lacey in the car (my two dogs who are afraid of storms..ugh). The hail hitting the car was so loud and hard I thought my windshield was going to shatter. I couldn’t help but think that night that if SOAR had not rescued Turnip that he probably would have been chained outside in that storm with no shelter from the golf ball sized hail and that he has probably lived through many storms like that, tied to post, in his life. It made me angry to think about it…really angry…at the dirt bags who treated Turnip so poorly for so long. But when I got the dogs home safe and sound and we all snuggled up for the night I said a prayer of thankfulness that Turnip had found his way to SOAR and would never experience unkindness or neglect again… my anger toward his abusers went away. Don’t get me wrong, abuse and neglect of any innocent creature is so very vile…but it is a deep and dark spiritual sickness that only God can heal…my anger will do nothing. I have my list of people and issues that I pray for each day. It became obvious that rather than be angry anymore that I should pray for grace to enter the lives of anyone inclined to be unkind to animals…my wish and prayer is that they too can experience God’s grace and someday see what a gift that life with his awesome creatures can be.
I will be involved with pet rescue until my creeky old body gives out…but I can not change the heart of those who are unkind to animals only God can do that and from now on that is my prayer. What a gift little Turnip has turned out to be..anger is tiring and I have an amazing family (and many more rescues) to put that energy in to.
October is Adopt a Shelter pet month…if you don’t have a rescue pet I hope you will consider it…it will change your life.