Once a dog in a puppy farm…look at her now…
As a dog from a puppy farm, Cerise is doing well. She’s been in our life now for 3 months and out of the puppy farm for 5. Overall her progress towards living as a normal, happy dog is good. She’s certainly able to understand that her life can be experienced as one that’s free from anxiety and fear, and she displays natural, unfettered enjoyment every day. This is never more vivid than on her walks; as soon as she’s out of the car and into the open air, a vivacity overcomes her as she throws herself – literally sometimes – into the pleasure of being a dog.
Whether we’re at the beach, or in the countryside, each walk starts with Cerise flinging herself around like a mad March hare, bouncing from spot to spot, sister to sister, with a hint of hysteria at the edges when she’s feeling extra excitable. It’s impossible not to laugh out loud with some of her euphoric displays. Seeing her flip herself head over heels down an unexpectedly steep slope yesterday, and righting herself as she landed at the bottom of the hill, with a smile hiding under her beard would have softened the stoniest of hearts.
She’s also a speed freak. She does nothing slowly, sprints like a greyhound, overtaking her sisters without discernible effort; chases down any dog she sets her sights on to play with, however far off they may be – this would be alarming if I didn’t carefully select walking places to suit Cerise the live-wire. We walk with safety in mind and find locations where it doesn’t matter if she decides to fire up her inner rocket, and liven us all up with a rollicking run across the distant landscape. Her nimble pace belies her solid frame; she’s a whippet disguised as a dumpling. She has phenomenal energy and I’ve no wish to curtail her athleticism, I need to look sharp and keep up.
It couldn’t be more different from the sedate pace of Susie-Belle. But, like her, Cerise, when not larking about is always to be found where Susie-Belle was – behind my heels. Tucked in, close to my feet as we walk along. She’s adopted this default position and it makes my heart tingle when I look behind and find her there, all bright-eyed, taking a break from her energetic careering around the Surrey hills.
There’s no doubt that just like Twinkle, and Susie-Belle before her, being outdoors and giving Cerise the opportunity to use her senses, to develop her true ‘dogginess’ is helping her learn to be happy. But just like Twinkle, when we’re back in the house, we see the ghosts of the puppy farm return. Without the open air and real freedom of being a dog outdoors, the harder lessons she has to learn on how to live with humans, in a human-centred world become sharper. So, whilst her progress is great, and I know we’re well on track to her being thoroughly happy, this is not to avoid speaking about the reality for her; one that’s still plagued by many problems. Three months is no time at all and she can take all the time she needs to unshackle herself fully from her past nightmare.
She’s well overdue for a good trim and tidy-up, but, I know this won’t be a good day for her, so, scruffy she stays, she doesn’t mind what she looks like and I certainly don’t. Susie-Belle never learned to accept grooming days, she was miserable through the whole process and based on the small attempts at tidying up the worst of Cerise’s shagginess, I’m delaying the inevitable as long as I can. We need to move forwards with as few setbacks in trust as we can manage.
We choose to celebrate the good times, the joy she sees in her life and embraces with everything she has, for we know that the duller aspects of our days still hold challenges for her. Maybe if we hadn’t had the experience of Susie-Belle, and certainly Twinkle, I’d focus more on the negative daily details, but, there’s no need, I’ve documented much of it with Twinkle who’s prepared us well for Cerise. After having a Twinkle in my life, I feel not much will surprise me! But, she does have similar issues, common to many dogs who’ve never lived in a home, and have had years of neglect in puppy farms, Cerise is lucky she’s younger and her spirit and energy remain more robust than poor Twinkle who had to put many more years of sadness and abuse behind her.
But, with the joy of each day Cerise also has difficulties and problems: it can take a few attempts some mornings for Cerise to be settled enough for me to put on her harness; or the trembling I note but don’t fret over as I know it’ll disappear in time, as I pick her up to pop her in the car; or the backing away from Michel when he goes to lift her out; or the skittering across the kitchen floor if the door knocker goes; or the hiding behind Twinkle for safety…just because that’s what she needs to do at that particular moment.
All these things are daily events in Cerise’s life. But, we know they will all dissipate when she’s ready. It was a year before Susie-Belle could be described as content in her new life with us, and Twinkle is only just there, three years on. So, we know Cerise is doing well, but, true happiness and inner peace for her in all aspects of her life are a long way off, we just choose to concentrate on the positives and share those, as to look too closely at the difficulties she’s working through won’t help her in the least. And it doesn’t make me laugh like seeing her bounce her butterball bottom on the beach does.
“Always laugh when you can, it is cheap medicine”
~ Lord Byron