DAY 178: I STROKE A GORGEOUS LADY
Linda, the wonderful woman who helps to look after Martin the Podenco, asked me to tell you about another dog called Lady who is in the same rescue centre as Martin
Lady is about the most scared dog I’ve ever seen – she makes Martin the podenco look like a zen monk – she hides behind everything she can see, trees, people’s legs, she’d hide behind air if that damn stuff wasn’t so flimsy.
But Linda assures me this dog has a good chance of recovery – if it can just find a new and patient home.
To prove the point she showed me how to stroke the dog.
How to stroke a scared dog.
Lady was too petrified to even look at us let alone be touched by anyone other than the sanctuary owner. But by slowly approaching her, backwards, with eyes in front of her and in a crouching position (a sort of yoga/Russian dance move – bet Miguel has it down perfect) Linda showed me it was possible to make a connection.
I did the same, groping out in space for a connection with the dog as if performing some hopeless move in an amateur ballet class. A few shuffles later and I was closer. A few shuffles more and my hand gently came to rest on the dog’s head. Her quivering reduced and for a moment I was able to soothe her.
That felt special.
I’ve come across this sort of visceral fear in animals so often in this year to help – dogs whining, horses bolting, birds fleeing – that I sometimes think I will become desensitized to the emotion. Its very easy to look at a quivering animal and simply say ‘there, there’ as if to a child scared of the dark. My only protection to this numbness is – thankfully – my own murderous anxiety that I’ve suffered from, on and off much of my life. And don’t forget, you too were once scared of the dark.
Again and again I’m realizing that my greatest asset in this journey is my own weakness. The fear and uncertainty I have allows me to connect to that which I see in others. The assumption is that we need to be tougher to deal with this sort of neglect. I think we need to be softer. That which is broken in us allows us to touch that which is broken in others.
If you or anyone you know wants to know more about this very gorgeous but very hurt dog – or maybe even adopt it – please send a message below
Thank you again
TOMORROW: my visit to Fundacion Benjamin Mehnert, the ultra-rescue shelter for Galgos on the outskirts of Seville. More pictures to come