Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Unknown History and Mystery of Mama Dog

Mama spends most of her family time belly up, begging for belly rubs. 

History. The word means many things, but when we hear the word history we generally know there is going to be a story that follows. There are many stories in this post, but this is mainly the story of Mama Dog and the thoughts I have about her when she curls up beside me on the couch and rests her head on my lap. I often wonder what she thinks of me, and why she was so comfortable with me, snuggling and cuddling me from the moment we first met. It's not that I am surprised by her behavior. I have a house full of animals, or as I like to say, a house filled with love--four dogs, a cat and a rabbit, Layla Lou. Technically, we didn't adopt or rescue any of them, they found me, every one of them, even the rabbit who was lying on her side beneath our trailer, dehydrated and starving. No, I'm not surprised that Mama Dog feels comfortable with me. She knows I am an animal person. I just wonder about her past, that's all. I just...wonder. 

Layla Lou a few months after I found her. When I found her I wiped the bugs from her eyes and cleaned her ears, bathed her, fed her water with an eyedropper until she could drink it on her own, and she gradually recovered. She started growing so fast and is now large, long and cuddly.

My husband thinks some animals instinctively know where to come for help, and this may be true, but how? Past experience? There is so much we don't know about animals--what they are thinking, how they know what they know--and there's one thing that often intrigues me about the animals in my life--their past. 
Chewy the Chewchewcabra found me when he wandered out of the forest surrounding our property in Texas. I suspect he was abandoned in the forest, which would be very cruel. We tried for months to find his owner. If he did not find me, he would not have survived for long. 

The homes of my children are also filled with love. They each have two children, two dogs and cats. My daughter and her husband adopted a puppy, Marley, who they were told was a mix of German Shepherd and Rottwieler, but he looks more like a mix of German Shepherd and Polish Sausage.
Marley the wonder dog with my granddaughter, Layla. Marley, who is still a puppy at one year old (dogs grow out of their puppyhood at different ages according to their breed) looks like he swallowed a Polish sausage. He certainly does not look like a Rottie! 

My daughter's family lost our beloved friend, Edgo, last year. They adopted Marley after the children were able to grieve over Edgo's loss. Marley is still a pup at a year old, jumping and running and wrestling with the children, and chewing up anything he can fit inside his mouth (including my computer cord, as I just discovered). My son-in-law decided Marley needed a friend, an older dog to calm him down, teach him to slow down a bit, so he visited the local Humane Society and adopted Mama. I knew immediately why he chose her the first time we met. She is not only calm around others, but also has a calming effect on people, and pups! 

Mama Dog and my grandson, Eli Lou.

Mama is a black and white Australian Shepherd with chocolate brown eyes that melt your heart. When I visit her home she cuddles and hugs me and loves to sneak onto the couch and curl up beside me with her head on my lap. And yes, she is wonderful with Marley. She is eight years old, but has been a member of our family for just over a year, so we know little about her past. 
Marley can be a pest, but we love him. He's still a pup, a Mama Dog in training. 

There are some things we do know about Mama Dog, clues to the mystery of her history. Mama does indeed take care of Marley, though he's a bit of a pest and she occasionally gives him a warning growl when he gets too rowdy, she is actually teaching him boundaries and that he needs to stay calm around the children and strangers. 
Mama Dog grabbed a bag of chips and ran outside for a quick snack. 

She teaches him that there is a time to rest and a time to play, although she also has her trouble-making moments, such as the time she pulled a bag of chips from a shelf in the pantry and ran out the back door with it clenched in her teeth. 
"Oops! I am so busted right now!"

I'm sure she had a rather funny expression on her face when she realized she was caught in the act, but I don't know for certain since the bag of chips was stuck on her head! Yes, Mama can play, too!
Like all well-trained dogs, Mama knows when she's been naughty!

Mama was picked up by the Humane Society as she was wandering down a country road in Colorado. The true mystery of Mama's history began during the adoption process and required veterinary exam, but the veterinarian thought he found a tumor on Mama's side, and my son-in-law agreed to pay the expenses of the surgery to see if they could save her life. During the surgery, the veterinarian discovered it was not a tumor in Mama's side, but a six inch chunk of glass. Her skin and fur had healed over the glass so it had been there for quite some time.
Mama is not particularly fond of having her picture taken!

There are other things we know about Mama Dog, such as the fact that she is terrified of storms. She can hear them before we see them rolling over the nearby mountains. I know there is a storm coming when she starts to whine and climb onto my lap, or head-butt my hand so I cannot type on the computer. She will also sit still to have her picture taken, but does not like the flash. She loves to ride in cars and trucks and opening a car door is a good way to recapture her if she has managed to sneak out the front door! 

Mama also likes to lie on her back for belly rubs and curl up on the couch to lay her head on my lap when she is afraid of the storms outside. 

So, what do these clues tell us? It is possible Mama was a farm dog. Though she does not "herd" the children like some farm dogs do, her comfort with vehicles implies she often rode in cars or trucks. The glass in her side could indicate that she was in a car or truck accident and ran, frightened by the impact and her injury. Though it is strange that no one claimed her, the would was healed, which would lead one to believe she was on the road alone for some time. I could write a book about the stories that have come to me, the possible past of Mama Dog, her trials and tribulations as she made her way to her forever home.  
So sad to think such a loving family dog was fighting to survive with a serious wound, searching for food, trying to make her way back home! 

There are so many questions I wish I could ask her. Did she have pups before she was spayed? If she did, there is no doubt she was a gentle, compassionate, loving mother. Was there children in her first home? I suspect there was as she is wonderful with children. Did anyone stop to help her on her journey before she was rescued by the Humane Society? I am often both amazed and shocked by the way people will treat animals, sometimes feeding strays no matter how aggressive or feral they seem, sometimes throwing rocks at the gentlest little creatures or puppies, or claiming they will shoot them if they come on their property. One thing is certain, though: Mama does have a past. She was loved, and she loves, deeply. It is certain that she feels grateful to have found shelter, to have the glass removed from her side--I cannot even begin to imagine the pain she was in--and to know that she has found her forever home.
The Baby dance.

You may remember Baby the Desert Dog? If you are new to my blog, last summer I drove my dogs to the desert for a walk and had a strange experience. All day long as I completed various tasks the word "dog" would pop into my mind. That evening, as soon as I turned onto the sandy mesa, I started seeing the word "dog" in my mind--the actual word, like a banner. I am not a "psychic" person, I don't have visions or hear voices. Nevertheless, we recently had a few run-ins with coyotes so I naturally felt a bit nervous. Was God warning me of potential danger in the only way He knew I would listen--with words? I will never know. What I do know is that I was so nervous that when we reached our usual spot I realized I could not leave the truck. I was afraid of what might happen to my dogs, or me, so I started to back up on the single lane sandy road. Suddenly, a handsome, skinny, dehydrated, brindle-colored dog crawled from beneath a sagebrush, crawled to the front of my truck, rolled over on his back and stared up at me through the windshield. I was stunned. I called the Humane Society and they told me that because he was a medium-sized dog he would be "put down" in three days, so I added yet another dog to my collection. Baby. 
Baby holding paws with my female chocolate lab, Holly. He wants so much to be part of a family. He loves being a family dog and loves Holly! Holly has a twin brother, Buddy, who is my right hand dog, always by my side. We were walking through a parking lot and noticed Buddy and Holly staring at us from the back of a truck. There were ten puppies in the truck, standing on the hot metal in the afternoon summer sun. We couldn't save them all, but we wanted to, and called the local authorities, but they said there was nothing they could do. She wasn't breaking any laws and would likely disappear before they arrived. Sometimes the apathy of animal "authorities" shocks me, as well. We told the truck owner we would take Buddy and Holly off her hands--they needed water, and shade. Sadly, the next day, the remaining eight puppies were found wandering on a road in Colorado and ended up in the Humane Society anyway. It is unlikely that they found homes as they are very large dogs. 

A few weeks ago I was giving Baby a bath and discovered he has what I can only describe as slice marks all across his right shoulder and down his leg to his paw. I didn't notice them before because of his brindle coloring and the fur has grown over them for the most part. So he, too, has had a traumatic past. Was he abused? He has a fear-based personality, though he adores me. He actually slides his paws around me when I'm lying on the couch, rests his head on my chest and hugs me. Every time he sees me he stands on his back legs and does the "Baby dance." Where did he learn this? He is leash-trained, house-trained, and also loves to ride in trucks. He is so happy to be loved, so thrilled to have a family I can only wonder what horrible experiences he must have had out there in the desert. If I didn't find him, he would not have lasted long with the coyotes! But why was he there? Did someone abandon him? Was he in a car accident, running in fear in the heat and sand trying desperately to find shelter? I will never know his history, but I have clues, enough to tell me that all he really wants is to be loved, to feel safe, and to live as part of a family.   

We love you, Mama Dog.

Dogs have one primary goal in life, to please their people friends, and Mama tries hard to meet this goal. When they are "returned" to a shelter or given away they do not understand. They think it is their fault, but it is always the human's fault, the human who was unprepared for a pet, unwilling to dedicate the time and give the love required by a pet. Mama, Baby, Chewy--they all have mysteries in their histories, a past, but they also have a future with me and my family, a home, and to them, that's all that matters.