Leaving the past behind

On the day of Stevie Wonder’s rescue, she was found tied to a tree on the property of a suburban golf course. Dogs can’t tell time extraordinarily well, of course, so she wasn’t able to tell anyone how long she had been there. She was skinny as a rail, though, and more than a little nervous.

Once back at the shelter, scratches and cuts were discovered all over her neck and face. Her evaluator assumed they were animal bites, but just to be safe, a vet clipped and scrubbed the area, finding that they were all scratches and not punctures, indicating that they were unlikely to be animal bites. Perhaps she had scratched herself up trying and trying to escape from an enclosure, for example.

Early in our time with each dog we have taken care of, a moment comes when I can scarcely think about anything other than “how could this have happened to this dog?” I wish more than anything that they could talk, and tell me their stories.

But on the other hand, it’s probably better that they can’t tell us the stories of their lives. Whereas we are prone to always remembering and being haunted, most dogs have an amazing ability to leave the past behind and accept a new reality as if it were the only one that ever was. It takes more time for some dogs than others, but we have found this generally to be true. Dear Stevie Wonder will never tell us what her scars mean or how she ended up tethered to a tree and abandoned, and we hope that soon enough, she won’t even remember it herself, as her memory and past identity begins to fade away and be replaced by the new life we’re building with her now.

The girlie certainly is coming around. She is progressing faster than I had expected, and is already willing to trust us more often than not. I can still see the worry in her expressions and she is timid of new situations and unexpected things, but hey — it’s only been a few days, and she is already turning into a wonderful little companion.

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21 responses

  1. Interesting name… I often wish they could talk too, though usually not due to their past but simply because they are being goobers about some aspect of training. Do these pictures do her personality justice as far as how calm she is? It seems like she is pretty laid back when she is comfortable with things. And how Little is little companion wise?
    Have a great day!
    Anna
    http://www.akginspiration.com

  2. Already Stevie Wonder looks a little less apprehensive. She’s a beautiful girl. She couldn’t be in better hands…looking forward to more posts and photos. Please let us know what Chick thinks of his foster sister.

  3. Good for her! We always wonder at the memory of dogs. Monty remembers his foster Mom, even though several months may pass between visits. How long will he remember her? Do they only remember the good? Or one day will we pass the people who abandoned him and how will he react then? We want him to forget, but worry that he won’t.

    Sam

  4. Mom says she sometimes wonders what my first life was like. I tell her, WHO CARES? I don’t even remember now, to tell you the truth. All I know is I have a super great family and I get to do lots of fun stuff. Sometimes I still get skeered of things but that happens less and less these days. Yep, we dogs sure are lucky that we don’t sit around and think abouts the past like humans do.

    I’m awfully glad that Stevie’s already starting to bloom. Having a safe house to live in and somebuddy to love on will do that for ya!

    Wiggles & Wags,
    mayzie

  5. Some dogs just take a little longer to warm up to people. You really can’t blame them for it though – Humans are weird!

    I’m glad Stevie is progressing well. I’m sure that with some consistent love and attention from people she’ll just get better and better 🙂

  6. I’m always so curious about our dogs’ pasts, and sometimes they give us little hints of who they used to live with (Miss M was originally very attracted to large men and assumed she could fit in everyone’s laps). I think it is good that they do have the ability to forget. She is so gorgeous; it’s great to see her becoming more comfortable.

  7. She looks quite content chilling on the deck. I always consider it a very good sign when a dog leaves her tongue hanging out.

    I often find myself wondering about my dog’s past. How she came to be wandering alone on the streets in a bad part of town. Does she have siblings? Where are they? Did she ever live in a real home? It’s impossible to know. I had a nightmare once where her original family contacted the shelter saying they found out she had been brought there and they wanted her back. It was ridiculous but it scared me. I think instead of wondering, I need to learn from her and just be grateful she is in our lives for good.

  8. So glad I came across your blog! As I’m sitting here at the end of my work day, contemplating whether we’re going to take in our first real, long term foster dog since we adopted, I think you have helped in the persuasion. This little 5 month old boxer lab mix is likely to be the perfect short term playmate for our little lab mix and the feeling that we’ll get for saving a life will be well worth cleaning up any accidents or dealing with a few extra barks here and there. Seeing what you do for these awesome bully breeds and giving them a second chance is truly inspiring. I will be following Stevie in the hopes that she gets adopted in to her forever home quickly!

  9. We know a lot about Ziggy’s previous family as they contacted his breeder to ask for help in rehoming him (something any good breeder should be prepared to do for the entire lifetime of the dog he or she breeds), but every now and then he just stops and looks a little sad, as if he caught a whiff of a memory. He had a little boy at this first home, and he still loves children and always wants me to take him over to see them.
    After about six months after we adopted him his first family came to visit our city so we took him to see them. He seemed pleased to see them but was more than happy to come home with us again.
    Some dogs are born with a resilience and a capacity to keep moving forward. I’m sure Stevie will occasionally have cause to remember her past, but hopefully it will be less and less often.

  10. Stevie W is going to be a star! I just know it! It is an uncanny ability to move past hardships that makes dogs the amazing Loves that they are. I’m glad that you found each other and can’t wait to see her blossom!

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