We’re nearing the half-year point of living with Rolo, the rescue mutt. When I flippantly chose this ‘kindness’ phrase back in January, I had no idea of its pertinence. When Dog came along, inevitably acting like a lost abandoned pup, he was a bloody nightmare. And so many people suggested we be mean to him to fix it quick.
Whether bike, passerby, plastic bag or (God forbid) another dog, everything would send him in to apoplectic rage. I abandoned all previous pretensions of being a sweet, polite neighbour, as I wrestled my hell hound round the block. No wonder we retreated to the wild places.
I couldn’t believe one canine was causing such disruption. So I was happy to take advice, anything that might help us figure out our daily life together. I was surprised by the number of people who recommended choke chains, shock collars, or compressed air canisters. I can’t understand why any animal stressed enough to act inconveniently should be answered with fury.
There seems a portion of everyday dog talk that still suggests cruelty as par for the course. It’s unnecessary, but god, the human patience required to get there without being mean feels like a far greater challenge.
Over the months we’ve seen our persistence pay off. I’m glad we were able to find a kinder way, particularly for such a crazy mutt, with plenty of thanks to Ian Dunbar, John Bradshaw and Zak George. Apparently there really is no magic recipe or quick fix. If you volunteer to take in a dog that has been abandoned somewhere down the line, you’re volunteering to take on a mystery challenge.
It’s funny to welcome into your home someone whose history is completely unknowable. Likely not from a town and, judging by the scar on his head, hanging with a few tough canine associates. I’m sure he hadn’t experienced a lot of the things that he is now slowly, and sweetly, learning about. He’s become more puppyish as he settles in, letting down his guard and starting to trust that here with us is where he stays.
Now he’s sitting by my feet, only glancing as the school-run sound of scooter wheels and shouts drift up to our window. We’ve figured out how to celebrate our awesome ‘working-from-home’ days together. He’s a bad yoga buddy, but the best excuse for a midday run through the forest. I have appreciation for the effort he puts in. Now every time a van drives past without him lunging I silently whoop. He adds extra hilarity to every day and is never anything other than delighted to see us. The kindness is paying off. I think he’s a keeper.