What it Means to Rescue a Dog
It’s dark and rainy, lightning in the distance, but I’m outside again – one of many times today that I’m taking Cooper for a loop.
He doesn’t need this many walks, but having spent 1.5 years living on the street, he’s still learning that being inside is safe.
The big scary storm proves too much for him to handle today. He has a complete inability to come down from one of his panic attacks. But once outside, he is the most playful, grateful guy you’ve ever seen. He’ll put up a bit of a struggle to go back in, but he knows where his bed is and will eventually concede.
Trade offs. That’s what keeps us going.
Within two months of being here, Cooper proved to be a completely capable, within reason, off leash dog. He learnt his basic commands very quickly, and we didn’t spend one minute potty training him. In fact, he won’t even go to the washroom on our property.
However, it took three months for him to start returning any affection, and it was hard understand. It became clear when the first scary dog chased him and he ran and hid between my legs. It was then I realized, I was witnessing a creature who knows true helplessness.
It’s a constant lesson in patience and compromise.
I still get emotional thinking about how they beat him. Everyone’s favourite thing about Cooper is his cute little hopping. I don’t have the heart to tell them that it’s because someone beat his spine so badly that he has permanent nerve damage, causing his legs to move in a hopping manner. He was born on the streets of Dharamsala, India, where stray dogs are not always treated with kindness.
But somehow, although he might not be conscious of it, in a world that was only cruel to him, he still decided to only be kind and gentle. This is why he deserves my patience.
The hardest lesson for me was that as I grew used to having him around, and it wasn’t fair for me to assume that he was used to us yet, or this new life we imposed upon him. It’s 100% different than anything he’s ever known. Our commitment to him wasn’t for just the good days, and the well-behaved walks. We also committed to be understanding when he is stubborn, and act gentle when he acts out. Patience and kindness helps us grow together, giving us the opportunity to do our little bit to make the world, or at least his world, a better place.
When you rescue a dog, you get to be proud of every small accomplishment. You get to experience giving everything to a brave little guy or girl, so that he might yet get to experience what it is to be a carefree, loving adventure buddy. You get the esteemed honor to save a life.
Editor's note: To donate to Dharamsala and all the wonderful work they do, please click here.