About three weeks ago I took on the challenge of one little female pit-bull. Her rescue name is Appie but we call her Little Blue Dog.
She came up from a shelter down south where a kind, soft spoken lady who is excellent with dogs had been unable to reach her. For some weird reason (I think it was meant to be this way) when she arrived at the rescue she came out of her kennel, wagged her tail and took a treat, ensuring her adoptability. That was the first and last time that she did so.
After arriving she began to shut down. She would not leave the dog house and was terrified of everyone. The rescue kennels are a very active place with a lot of dogs and a lot of noise. We assumed she was just having a hard time adjusting to it all and decided to move her to my house.
I wrongly assumed that this would be just like all the other fearful dogs I have worked with, a little love, a little kindness and everything would be fine..... but it wasn’t. Nothing broke through her barriers. I was kind, I moved slow, I was patient. Chicken liver and black forest ham rained from the sky whenever I was around. I practiced appeasement and calming gestures that have worked well with fearful dogs in the past. I would sit in her kennel and read just to get her used to me, never looking at her and always speaking soft yet confident. After three weeks although we had made some small progress it really wasn’t much.
If she is loose she will run, she always runs at my approach, at anyone’s approach. If in her kennel or crate she hovers in the back and will only come out when the leash is attached to her collar. If inside she typically will hide inside her crate. Only one day, out of all the days did she come out and chew on a toy and just lay on the carpet. If you stand or move in any way she cringes and runs, if flight is not an option she goes down low, real low and awaits the displeasure that she is certain is coming.
Once she is on a leash she will follow you, but she cringes at every move and seems to just be resigned to her fate and certain that you intend her harm.
At certain points along the way she has been so shut down that she squints her eyes shut and just lays there as you touch her to put the leash on. Soft and gentle touch offers her no comfort and she just tenses up and allows it, certain that it is all a lie and harm is sure to follow.
From time to time, and for only a fleeting moment, I see hope in her eyes, or something that I cannot quite put my finger on. If I sit down sometimes she will approach me, and if I walk about the yard sometimes she will follow and on occasion come up behind to sniff me, quickly fleeing if my head turns or I give any indication that I know she is there.
She loves Patronus, my amazing Dog Whisperer dog. Through him I have been able to see a portion of her true self, as she greets him in the morning and dances in delight. For him her tail wags, for him she rains kisses, for him she bows and entices him to play. These moments are precious and beautiful to behold, for they show her as she was meant to be, as she was created to be, before some unknown sorrow broke her heart and spirit into fractured pieces.
Working with her is heartbreaking. I have so much to offer her. Peace, rest, provision and a lot of love. I think of how it would be to have her in my lap and give her cuddles and rub her tummy….but to her this would be torturous. She simply cannot see all that I have to offer her for fear of some cruelty. I know not what she has endured in her short life, but whatever it was it has scarred her terribly.
The lessons she teaches me are painful ones, not the normal happy and uplifting ones that other foster dogs have taught. She teaches me of sorrow, fears, hopelessness and brokenness, a tormented creature lost in the darkness. I see in her my own plight at certain times of my life, when God wooed me with His grace and mercy but I was so broken, so angry and fearful that I could not accept His wooing. Yet He never stopped pursuing me. I, like her ate crumbs from the ground when a feast beyond measure was there for the taking. I was just too broken to see it, and too disillusioned to believe it was real.
Sometimes broken cannot be fixed, sometimes broken just will not come to the table offered. Yet God in His great mercy never stops asking, never stops pursuing, and never stops loving. I will do my very best to do the same, for the Little Blue Dog and in so doing, I will hope with all my heart that she will reach a place of trust where she will decide to eat from the bountiful table that is offered and know the peace of companionship with a caring human.
Your prayers for her are greatly appreciated.
Little Blue Dog
I watch you huddled in the corner
Your eyes carefully watching my every move
Your body is tense, your tail tucked tightly
You are ready to flee…always ready to flee
Softness does not break through
Kindness and soft words do not penetrate
Tasty food has no appeal
You are convinced that nothing good comes from humans
Goodness and humans are a lie
I think you once believed that such things could be
I think your heart wanted it so very much
But someone trampled upon all that
And left you shattered and broken
Let me show you that beautiful is possible
Let me show you what grace can do.
Trust me little one…..trust me just a little bit
And we will behold the miracle of love.
“Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life” (Psalm 23:6a, The Message)
“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” (Romans 5:8 NLT)