Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wash's Story

Patricia McConnell recently posted on her blog asking if her readers felt that dogs could tell stories. “If a story is a description of a sequence of events,” she writes, “can dogs, without the use of language, tell itself stories to help make sense of the world?” As a longtime bibliophile and story teller, I find the question fascinating. There is no doubt in my mind that dogs have stories, and one of the great skills of dog training is learning how to listen to what the dogs is telling you, but are dogs able to tell stories similar to the way people tell stories?

For example, I have a new foster puppy. 


If I had to tell his story, I would say that it started in Kentucky. He is the son of a Rottweiler and some slutty, unneutered boy dog. There were seven other puppies in his litter, and he and his siblings all ended up at a high kill shelter. Two of them were adopted. The Kentucky shelter staff reached out to A Rotta Love Plus to save as many puppies as possible.

ARLP, being made of mush-hearted volunteers, found foster homes for the puppies and agreed to take them in. October 6th, the six remaining puppies were transported north to Minnesota. I claimed “the sassy puppy with the white chest.” I named him Wash after the character from Firefly, because that is the best name for a puppy ever. If you’ve never seen Firefly, why the hell not –er, I mean, you’re just going to have to trust me on that.

Trust the puppy . . .

The puppies are sick. They have what I call “the animal shelter triumvirate.” That is, they have fleas, intestinal worms, and kennel cough, the three most common illnesses in animal shelters nation wide. We gave them flea baths, dewormer, and kept them separate from their house mates until they could start healing.

Then, we found out they had parvo.

Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes vomiting, diarrhea, fever, weakness, dehydration, and in puppies in particular – especially puppies that are sick to begin with – it is often fatal. This last week has been a flurry of fluids and vet visits, giving distemper boosters to the adult dogs living with the puppies, begging for donations for care, and hoping against hope that the puppies pull through.

Two of them, Derby and Lucy, did not make it. The multiple blows of fleas, worms, kennel cough, and parvo were simply too much for their little bodies to bear.

The remaining four puppies, though, seem to be pulling through. Wash, Tucker, Squirrel, and Dobby Racer are all starting to act like normal puppies again – eating and running and jumping and annoying the heck out of their foster parents. Much to our delight.

If I were to tell Wash’s story, that’s how it would go.

But if Wash were to tell his own story, I think it would go something like this:

“Wow, leaves, my favorite! They fall, and they taste like paper! Paper tastes great! Hey, a stuffy! BEHOLD, I am PUPPY, DESTROYER OF STUFFIES!! Ooh, sock, I destroy those too, watch –hey, being held! Um, okay, yeah I guess I’m a little tired, but I –snore, snore, snore – OMG, a CAT! My favorite!!!”

You know what? Ignore me. Wash’s story of himself is way better than my story of him.

"My stories rock. Now pet mah bellies!"

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