It’s No Small Gift
When 5 month old Albert Claude breezed into our world he brought with him a canine vibrancy and innocence that had faded in my mind in recent times. Having lived for the past 8 years with dogs who have been badly damaged by the breeding industry, the practical and emotional adjustments I’ve made, consciously and unconsciously, to help them navigate their world has meant I’ve almost forgotten how naturally joyous dogs are. How completely happy a dog can be every single day and most minutes of every day – baths and nail clips possibly reduce the happy factor, at least for mine.
To see Albert wake up every morning not only without a care in the world, but without awareness of any cares existing in the world, is invigorating. As he leaps through each walk and seeks fun at every chance, I marvel at the sheer, enveloping love of everything he’s imbued with. Poet Mary Oliver’s beautiful words are brought to life by Albert Claude,
“Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?”
However, there’s a a shadow that hovers around Albert’s idyllic world. One which somedays darkens my thoughts more than I can control. I see the contrast between him and Cerise and recognise once more just how deep the trauma lies with her. And what a horrible world it is for dogs caught up in the breeding industry, as Albert’s parents are, and how lucky he is to have got away.
I see how heavyhearted Cerise can be, as Albert’s lightheartedness brightens the world. How she’ll snatch away a biscuit, having first had to conquer a suspicion we may be luring, not loving her. Where beside her, or more usually in front of her as she hides behind him, sits confident 8 month old Albert, awaiting his reward for his perfectly timed and executed sit.He’s been with us less than 3 months, Cerise has been here over 3 years. Time is not an indicator of anything at all when it comes to living with traumatised dogs.
In the main, we’ve learnt to spot Cerise’s triggers and intervene to prevent an escalation into her darker ways, panic driven and highly suspicious – this after being unconditionally loved in the safest environment a dog can have.
But love is not enough to heal Cerise, the damage inflicted by the puppy farmer is deep and her problems are complex. And then there are the days, increasing in number and without doubt hastened by Albert’s jubilance, where there’s little hint of the persistent unease which plagues her. She can let herself be happy.
She joins in gleefully, playing, accepting his invitations to run and chase and wrestle her way along familiar trails and forest footpaths. Cerise has within her the cheerfulness which Albert exudes. I know it, I see glimpses of it, and I urge it with every cell of myself, to triumph over each fear and phantom that holds her back.
I’m certain that now, with her exuberant, joyful brother, we may have found the elusive key that opens Cerise’s next secret door the one that’s resisted yielding thus far to every previous effort; the one where melancholic Cerise hands the baton to her merrier self. She can do it, I’ve every faith in my sweet Cerise.