Friday, January 6, 2012

A True Dog Series: Disregarded Dogs, Rising Above

Part 1 of 3: Disregarded Dogs

These next couple posts are going to be a little different in the sense that I won't just be writing about my dogs. I'll also be featuring two other wonderful dogs that are just as true as Chico and Rue. 

Animal abuse and neglect is prevalent throughout the United States, from small towns, big cities, and middle class neighborhoods. Abuse and neglect has no boundary limits or breed preferences. Although the subject of abuse and neglect is incredibly tragic, difficult to discuss, and depressing. If our hope is to someday end animal abuse, then bringing that hope to reality requires us to face this tough subject matter head on. Look at it, and learn from it. Knowledge and action will be key factors to ending animal abuse and neglect.

In prior posts I discussed Chico's rough start to life which included abuse and neglect by his prior owners. Chico's abuse started soon after he was brought home from the breeder and continued through the 1st year of his life. Unfortunately, he was sold to a family that was incapable of treating him with kindness. He was abused, and still has physical (not to mention emotional) scars from the treatment he received.  Chico was kept outside in a small crate where he laid in his own feces.  Due to these cramped conditions he lost muscle mass in his legs and would just drag his back end around.  In addition to the horrific living conditions, Chico was physically abused.  After a year of abuse, Chico was removed from these despicable conditions and Protege Canine Rescue brought him into their rescue.  After spending a short time in foster care we fell in love with Chico and adopted him. The treatment that Chico received during crucial developmental stages enrages me. I find myself struggling with emotions from pain to anger when I think of the monster that abused Chico. This is not the person I want to be.  My husband and I have decided to focus on Chico's future rather than his past.  I have found that it is important to focus on right now in order to create a better future for Chico and our family. If we focused on Chico's past treatment, we would be bitter and angry, and we would not be much help to Chico.

A huanting picture of sun bleached Chico shortly after coming to rescue.

A partially sun bleached Chico beginning the healing phase in Foster care.

The present day Chico we have come to love. 

Rising Above Abuse

Chico was abused and neglected during his first year and the ability to change this fact is out of my control. But, I will not let Chico's past define who he is now.  It's important to remember what he has gone through when analyzing some of his behavioral issues. My knowledge of Chico's past allows me to have patience when I feel frustrated with his reactivity.  Chico is a smart dog, filled with love and courage. He makes me a better person.  I admire his resilience and the trust he puts in my husband and I. Although Chico still struggles with fearfulness and reactivity two years later, he is healing and rising above it. We are beginning to notice some positive behavioral changes.  

When we started this journey two years ago, I truly had no idea what it would take to own a dog like Chico. But, in the last year Chico has made huge strides. We work on his reactivity everyday, sometimes he is successful, sometimes he is not.  We do activities that he loves, and can be successful at, like running, nose work, tug, and his favorite, sheep herding.  His life is now filled with joy and positive experiences. I don't have the expectation that he'll be perfect. What is perfect anyways?  My expectation is that he will do the best he can everyday. That is our perfection. We'll continue to work on his patience and behavioral issues. But, when the day is done, the toys are put away, and the border collie house has calmed. Chico has shown me that life is lived in the present, each day is a gift, and that love is stronger than fear and anger.

What's Next?

Over the next few weeks, I'm going to share the stories of two dogs that, with the help of wonderful people, have risen above their past. These are tragic, yet inspirational stories. You will fall in love with these guys too.

Here is what I'll be writing about: 
  • I'll be writing about an awesome adoptable, (yep, he wants to be YOUR true dog!) This adoptable has had a hard start to life, but is working on rising above.
  • I'll also be sharing the story of a Midwestern dog whose tragic story made the headlines about a year ago.  This dog has faced some real challenges and with the help of his owner he's been able to overcome so much in a year.
I can't wait to share these stories with you.  Hopefully together we can all speak out against animal abuse and neglect.  We can rise above.

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