Sunday, October 2, 2011


(This first picture of Allister belongs to me. They next two belong to Paige Reyes.)

Allister and I started a new sport this spring: agility. I've never done agility, so of course Allister's never done agility. This has led to several comical blind-leading-the-brilliant moments. Last week in class, one of the other student's asked me why the instructor was having us do an exercise a certain way.

"I have no idea," I responded cheerfully, "but I trust that the instructor knows what she's doing, so I'm just going to do what she tells me."

I researched this instructor very carefully before signing up for class. I talked to her students, studied her training style, looked into her accomplishments, checked out her reputation. In this moment last week, it struck me - dogs have none of that. They don't know our reputation or accomplishments. They have no background information to base our relationship on at all. Yet the majority of dogs trust us anyway. Allister believes that I know what I'm doing; only I know how fallible I am. How incredible is that?

I am awed and humbled by the canine faith in humanity.

I listened to a lecture once on rescue culture. The speaker, knowing how easily words influence thoughts and behaviors, felt that we were doing dogs a disservice by using the word "rescue." To be "rescued" implies victimization and creates a savior/victim interaction. In short, an "I saved you, now you owe me" inequality that belies the co-dependent relationship between dogs and humans. Dogs are not victims; they are not helpless. They are survivors. If I were to die today, I doubt Rubi would give me a second thought (and I would not want her to - she should be spared the grief that humans feel). Instead, she would adapt to her changed world. She would continue to manipulate and influence her environment to the best of her abilities. If she is capable of such thoughts, she certainly would not consider herself a victim.

So here is my Rubi: she who survived all the shit the world could throw at her, then sat up and begged for more.

‎"Shelter dogs aren't broken. They've simply experienced more life than other dogs. If they were human, we would call them wise. They would be the ones with tales to tell and stories to write. The ones dealt a bad hand who responded with courage. Don't pity a shelter dog. ADOPT one. And be proud to have their greatness by your side."

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