The Year is Complete!

Please feel free to look back through the 365 days of 2010 sunrises, but "a year of getting up to meet the day" is officially completed. There will be no more new posts.


Thank you so much for visiting.
A one year blog project in which I share a process of transitions: emptying of the nest, reacquainting with my rusty intellect, plowing onward with my first full length book, entering the second half of my first century, and generally reflecting on life.

(see Dec. 29th, 2009 entry for further explanation)

Friday, April 23, 2010

one adoption success story

sunrise:  5:38

Here is picture of the eastern sky at around 5:45.  The sun is out there somewhere...
Guster, our little hound mix, does not always accompany me in the morning because of his predilection for barking...baying incessantly, actually.  But he's been pretty good lately.  Knowing he may be banished again, I thought I would get him on film today.

Looking at Guster, I often get a little thrill of amazement at the wonder of his transformation. When we first adopted him from the local humane society shelter, he seemed a bit timid, though sweet.  We had no idea what an insanely psychotic creature we had taken into our home.  He was thoroughly petrified of almost everything - cars, people, any sudden noise or movement.  A piece of paper falling off a table would send him streaking away in fear.  We had to change his feed bowl to plastic since the sound of his collar hitting the metal bowl made mealtime a horror show.

During those early days of Guster, my son, a dog-loving, kind individual, said,"I just don't like him."  He was even too frightened to play.

But how things have changed!  He still has his moments.  He is nervous, but not debilitated by crowds of people, and a thunderstorm will send him cowering into a closet.  Barring that, however, he has become quite social, loving, happy, secure.  He is a funny, often playful little guy with a winning way of gently laying his chin on your lap for a pat.

I like to congratulate ourselves for Guster's miraculous recovery, but I know better than to take all the credit.  Barbara Woodhouse wrote a book about dog care called "No Bad Dogs."  I don't completely agree with her.  Perhaps no dog is born bad - there is a perpetual debate along these lines concerning people as well - but they may have some inclinations toward asocial or even violent behavior, and the wrong environment may lead them to become bad dogs.  Sometimes they can be reformed, repaired, re-socialized. 

Sometimes - they can't.  We are not all dog-whisperers, and I would venture to guess that even the dog-whisperer might meet his match.  Those are the ones that don't get on TV.  It is always sad to hear about a dog given up.  But it's a much better story than the ones about dogs chronically neglected or abused.  If someone cannot handle their dog - it is a shame that they didn't realize their limitations before they got the dog.  But it is also a relief and a kindness if they give the dog away rather than continue in a mutually destructive relationship.

Lucky for us, Guster's afflictions were not as deeply rooted as we feared.  He still had enough room for development to get over most of his fears.

Human beings are not dogs.  I will venture to say, however, that there are lessons that can apply to both dog and human.  An article in this week's Newsweek about foreign adoption was terribly sad to me.  There was no dramatic sending of children back to their home country, no parent gone berserk with the stress.  It is the story of parents spending a lifetime loving their adoptive children, and never really getting love in return. 

Humans are fallible, they are flawed, and chemistry isn't always going to work in human relationships, no matter how hard we try - even biological relationships.  It doesn't only apply to adoptions.  The couple who were the subject of the Newsweek article had each other, and somehow they were able to summon the emotional resources to see their parental duties through.  Not everyone can. 

It is a hard balance to find.  Parents, guardians must sacrifice, they must put all that they possibly can into the work of raising the children that come into their care, no matter how they have arrived there.  But for whatever reason - nature or nurture or a combination - some children are too difficult for some parents to handle.  Better that they relinquish their duties than perpetuate a lifetime of harm for their children and themselves. 

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