Sunday, March 22, 2009
On Friday I met Sophie, a yellow lab mix who was surrendered by her owner – a toddler had jumped on her while she was sleeping and startled her. She nipped. That nip was her ticket to a humane society in rural Iowa. That one incident placed her at the bottom of the adoptable list. Like many others, her days were numbered and a date set for euthanasia. Fortunately for her, though, the staff at the humane society fell in love with her gentle spirit and put a plea out to Pet Haven’s intake coordinator.
I don’t know what it is about Sophie. A fellow volunteer and I went out to Bloomington Vet to take photos of Porter and Sophie, two new dogs into Pet Haven’s foster program [You can view photos of them on my flickr site]. As Sophie came out to the lobby she immediately came up to me, moved into a “sit” and with eyes fixated on me, desperately tried to tell me something. Five seconds later, her right paw leaves the ground and comes up to rest gently on my leg. It’s as if I hear her saying, “I’m here,” while her eyes locked onto mine with a sense of desperation to not be left and to be noticed. Her rib cage was prominent – she was around 10 pounds underweight. Sophie is what we would call a velcro dog … she never left the side of any human kind enough to pay attention. Sophie has been granted a second chance. Some dogs grab onto your heart. Some dog's eyes lock onto your heart. Some dogs leave a mark. For me, Sophie is one such dog.
We are no different than Sophie. We want to be loved. We want to be noticed. We want to be understood. If we are startled or fearful we may display behaviors that could be misunderstood. At least we can attempt to explain why we acted a certain way. For us, one wrong move isn’t a death sentence. For dogs, it can be.
If only dogs could communicate with us in a way we could understand. If only we could open up our hearts to a possibility of a whole new way of communicating, a whole new language. What if the way of the dog were a wiser way of being?
Sophie will be up for adoption through Pet Haven soon. Watch for her on the Pet Haven website. In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about Sophie email firstname.lastname@example.org.