It seems inevitable that whenever people start waxing poetic about dog rescue, that someone will come along with a romantic statement about how the "dogs just know" they've been rescued, and how grateful they are to be in their new homes. Now, I can't speak for anyone else's furry family members, but my dogs don't know jack about being rescued. And as I watch Rubi wolf down breakfast and start harassing the other dogs so she can lick out their empty bowls and then come to me begging for more, I'm pretty sure they don't really understand the concept of gratitude, either.
My dogs do not realized that I have swooped in like a modern day superheroine to save them - not even the ones I took in because their only other options came in the form of a needle and a black bag. What they do understand is dog beds. Big, fluffy dog beds strategically placed throughout the house so that they will catch as much sunshine as possible. They know that big bowls of food come twice a day, even if you sometimes have to remind the humans that dinner time is coming several hours in advance. My dogs get that we will do enjoyable things together everyday. And that while I may ask them to do stuff that does not make sense to them, I will never request anything they are not capable of giving me. My dogs know that when the shit hits the fan, I'm in their corner, and we will battle our demons together.
My dogs do not know that they are rescues. They did not hand me their loyalty and gratitude just because I signed a handful of papers. I earned my dogs' respect, attention, love, and devotion. Sometimes, because I am neither perfect nor all-powerful, I even earn their forgiveness. And I'll have to apologize if I'm not just a little bit proud of this.
And also grateful.
So. Much. Gratitude.