Lab

A Dog’s Story: What Could They Tell Us?

I’ve been thinking a lot about narrative therapy and how it helps people to tell their stories.  It helps to heal and to move on and to let go of the past.  What if dogs could do that?  Would it help a dog who was antisocial to be able to tell someone exactly why they didn’t trust humans or other animals?  

Izzy’s story could probably be a country song.  “My ma left us, broke and alone.  My brother went blind and I had no bone.  Awwwww, woe is me.”  Other dogs would do a rock and roll love song or an aria howled in the highest notes.  Some would simply speak their story in rambling, incoherent sentences while others would be Virginia Woolf-ish and let their story fly via stream-of-consciousness.  But I don’t think the little ones would moan about being the smallest in the pack and the overweight dogs would not express their frustration about losing weight.  A dog’s story would be simple.  Direct.  To the point.

Would a Pitbull trained for the ring discuss his post-traumatic stress?  How about a Lab trained for sniffing out bombs?  Would she cry about the stress of the job and the horrible things she’s seen?  Would a Cockapoo feel left out because he can’t identify with just one family?  And how about a Poodle?  Would she write about how no one is as beautiful as she is?

Stories are important, but the thing about dogs is that their story doesn’t last longer than this moment.  No rear view mirrors for dogs.  Now.  The moment.  Dogs are true Buddhists.  Dogs are cool.  

Here’s Izzy being cool.

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Street Orphans

Street Orphans

In the South, there are house dogs and yard dogs. I’m not a big fan of yard dogs. I hate seeing dogs on a chain in a back yard, and I truly feel that those dogs begin to harbor aggression after a while. Yes, it makes no sense to let dogs run free, but if you have a dog, aren’t you responsible for giving it love and care and making sure it’s healthy and safe from the elements? Yes, Izzy goes out in the yard occasionally, and when he does, he’s tied up (because he does the fa-la-la-I’m-free! thing when he’s off leash and he’s too little for cars to see when he zips across the street — giving me heart attacks). But when you leave a dog outside day and night, simply giving it water and food, that doesn’t work for me.

Yesterday, when Izzy and I walked, a clownish black Lab raced up to greet us, large pink tongue lolling out of his mouth. He was wet and obviously wanted some water, so I knew he’d been outside for most of the day since it had been raining. And he was young and wanted to play. Suddenly I realized he was Spike, the black Lab that lives around the corner from me — in the back yard on a chain. He’s been there since he “moved in” when he was quite little and quite scared. Occasionally, Izzy goes back there to play for a few moments (when I’m brave enough to let him off the leash), but other than that, Spike sees no one, doesn’t play, doesn’t get to walk the neighborhood, and doesn’t have any shelter other than the trees overhead.

His newly-found freedom was obviously an aphrodisiac for him last night. He hopped over Izzy, did the puppy-bow, raced alongside us, rolled down the grass, and generally looked — plain and simple — happy!

We worked with one of the guys on the street to try to get Spike back to his yard, but he was not interested. I think he rather likes being one of the Street Orphans, those dogs who race freely up and down the streets of our little town.

Can’t say that I blame him!