For the first few weeks that Hope and I lived together, she was in heat and then, when that ended, was spayed and recovering from the surgery. So we kept pretty close to home. Then finally I got to take her for a walk in the beautiful park across the street. I tried not to think about her former life and feel sorry for her -- the advice I had been given was to treat her with the same affection and disclipline one would have for any dog. And yet it was clearly so difficult for her to walk, which at first was just heartbreaking to see. To keep her balance, she has to tilt her front leg toward the center of her body. This results in a distinct bobbing motion and a lot of huffing and puffing. I couldn't help but tear up. And then it happened.
We were walking by a large oak tree, and a squirrel ran up the trunk. Before I knew what was happening, Hope took a verticle six foot leap off the ground right into the crook of the tree after that squirrel. I was dumbfounded.
Once up there, she did need help getting down, but that leap took my breath away. I wondered what else she could do that she hadn't showed me yet? Plenty, it turned out.
I began taking her to area dog parks. She had apparently not been around many dogs, because her socialization skills needed a lot of work. But she learned quickly and began to establish friendships. That was great and really heartwarming but not unexpected. What was truly amazing was how she could run.
Gone is the awkard bobbing and labored breathing. When she runs, Hope's back legs propel her forward so fast, and she keeps her body so close to the ground, that you can't even see she is missing a leg. People whose first glance of her is while she is running are shocked when she stops and they then see that her left front leg is missing.
And oh, the joy she feels when she runs. It's unmistakeable.
In my next post I'll share what the dog park has ended up meaning for both of us. Meanwhile, here is the beginning of a lengthy list of life and work lessons we humans in Hope's world have learned from her. More in Part 3.
- Always believe things will get better.
- Take help when it is offered, especially if it moves you toward achieving your vision.
- A skip in your step isn't necessarily a bad thing.
- Not everyone will "get" you -- focus on those who do.
- Everyone is awkward at something.
- Everyone is great at something.