February 7, 2014
"Little White Dog of My Heart," I began, "never for a moment forget you are different. Not because you are the Queen but because you have grown up a child of privilege. You have never wanted for anything and have been loved and treasured and wanted every second.You have never known hardship or betrayal. You have been protected, kept safe from fear, and never had reason to despair, lose trust or give up hope. It is not so for the others of the White Dog Army."
She was referring to Taiko's incredible need to be reassured and his often possessiveness. I cannot imagine the warping done from being abandoned by his initial family when they moved, left to neighbors who neither wanted nor liked him. He spent years being chained outside in all seasons and weather without companionship, a kind word, or a friendly pet. Meals were tossed at him, if someone remembered to feed him. Days and nights when no body cared and a world restricted to the reach of his tether.
When he arrived here, our home must have felt like a thing of crazy imaginings...living indoors...regular meals...hugs and attention. Our Tender-Heart walked on egg shells, bolting from the house at every loud noise, trying to be invisible but at the same time trying to melt into the thick of things, seemingly certain that at any second he would waken and it would all be gone.
Oh YES! Another White Dog has been part of the White Dog Army five months now and he is just beginning to realize that a truck is not going to pull up to the door to take him away. But he is still not ready to totally give himself over to trusting that this is the real deal, a forever home filled with safety, security, care, commitment and most of all, love.
He clings to Steve like a drowning dog to a raft and can be be pretty insistent that no one else has a claim on his time. It is with one arm around Taiko that Steve often gives much deserved time to one or another of the others. They seem in some way to understand...perhaps because they, too, came with baggage.
I am most proud of YoYoMa, the biggest and heaviest of the White Dogs by more than 10lbs. He is my special boy and despite his blindness White Dog's Second in Command. Yet, most times, he allows Tai to push his way into our hug and plow his head into my lap. I kiss his nose and tell Taiko how lucky he is to have such an understanding brother, for in a serious fight it would be messy. Yo licks my face and lays at my feet or walks away so that the needy White Dog can be reassured.
In time, I know that OY!AWD will come to believe in the reality of his new life and will know in his soul he is forever loved. Sometimes my heart aches as I think of how awful his past must have been to make him so insecure, but as they say the river only flows forward. In the quiet moments, I hold his face in my hands and stare into his light brown eyes. "You will never be abandoned again," I tell him. "You will always be loved and cared for and have a family. You will be respected and cherished. That I promise you. I just hope someday you believe me."