There are many who believe, very firmly, that one should not dwell too much on a rescue dog's past. The past, after all, is the past, and what matters most is the present and the future.
Generally speaking, I agree with that.
But I do find with Tessa that I look back a lot, and I don't believe it is a bad thing. I am constantly marveling at how far this dog has come. I will never, ever forget the first time I saw her at the shelter, and then when I first brought her home. I remember day after day of her pretty much tolerating me. I remember her hiding from me, running away from me, looking at me without a shred of trust in her eyes. I remember when she made herself as small as she could manage. I remember when she kept to the furniture unless she was able to lose herself in a sea of four other dogs. I remember when she didn't expect good things, when she didn't play, when she was the most joyless dog I've ever met in my entire life.
And then came the glimmers and the glimpses. A tiny spark of interest and joy here. Running a few steps there. The tiniest beginnings of trust. The beginnings of affection.
I remember the first time Tessa stood in the kitchen and looked at me with an expression that was no longer concerned, but expectant. I remember the first time I woke up and Tessa wiggled into my arms. I remember our first jump training session. I remember training her to lie down on a mat next to Maddie, and to sit stay next to Sammie. I remember the first time she ever went flying after Dean right into the car. I remember the first time I separated her from the other dogs to take her to training. I remember our first walk outside of our yard on the street. I remember watching her start, in the tiniest babysteps, to transition from an almost wild animal mentality into a pet who knew she would be cared for.
Tessa's original favorite safe spot. This should look familiar, as it is where we take her ribbon photos now.
Over time, those glimmers blossomed. Tessa became a happy girl, intensely interested in life all around her. She became my training and performance partner, relishing every opportunity to work with me in the ring. She became my right hand girl and eager companion. When I think of Tessa now, I think immediately of a beautiful, joyful girl, spirited and sassy!
When I reflect on where Tessa and I started, I can't help but be amazed at how far we have come.
What can I say? A happy ending gets every time . . . !!!