Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tessa's Story - Some Commentary

The posts that I have been making recently, "Tessa's Story", are slightly modified posts that I made on my old Xanga blog shortly after Tessa came here.

That blog can be found here, if anyone is interested:

Old Xanga Blog - Dean Dog and Friends

I started that blog after we adopted Dean and it is a pretty good record of the first couple of years of his life with us.

As I recycle those old posts to share Tessa's early days with us, it occurs to me that there is something that is really not coming through in them - the degree to which Tessa was shut down during her first months here.

I know the Tessa of now so well.  She is a joyful and enthusiastic girl, full of desire to live her life to the fullest.  She loves to greet me when I come home, she loves to snuggle, she loves to train and perform, she loves to go to class, she loves to hike or go to the beach, she loves to play in the yard with her brothers and lay in her tub of water when it's hot.  Her eyes light up and she holds her plume of a tail up high and she is full of life and fun.

She was nothing like that when she first came here.  She was lost, she was scared, she had no trust, and - saddest of all to me - she had no expectation that anything good was going to happen to her.  She was constantly on edge, ready to spring at the slightest hint that she might need to get to safety.

Often when I tell people that after she had been with us for two weeks as a foster I could not let her go, they say, "you fell in love with her, right?"  No, I didn't.  Nor did she fall in love with me.  Love was the furthest thing from either of us.  Trust was far away, too.  I liked her an awful lot, and she had learned by that time that she could tolerate me.  But she was afraid of me and there was little I could do with her at that point other than allow her to find what safety she could in my home.

But there was something.  While I wouldn't call what I had for her at that time love, I did have a very strong sense of needing to protect her.  The idea of putting her on a transport and sending her to rescue - even such an amazing rescue as GHF - didn't sit well with me at all.  I felt strongly that she needed to be here.

I did see glimmers of her potential even then.  There were times when I would get just a glimpse of her true self behind her mask.  And when I saw her spring from one piece of furniture to another (usually to avoid the proximity of my husband, Ben), or when I saw her chase Dean and corner and turn, I saw a dog who just might like to play Agility someday.  And when I saw her break into a prance in the yard a few times, I caught just a brief flash of a dancer.

But the truth was that I had no idea if Tessa would ever be able to become a performance partner.  I didn't know if she would be able to handle training at home in private, much less in a training class.  I didn't know if she would ever be able to tolerate, much less like, the competition setting.  I knew that I was considering adopting a dog who may never feel safe anywhere but on the sofa or her favorite chair.

I didn't even know if she had it in her to have a shred of affection for me.  Maybe her experiences out in the world had smashed any capacity she had to love and trust a human.  I simply didn't know.

But it didn't matter.  This was where she needed to be and I needed to adopt her and give her the best life I could. 

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