Today the dogs went to the vet for their annual check-up. (Yes, I know, I didn’t post yesterday and here I am posting about the dogs AGAIN–it’s going to be a long, boring summer for those of you who follow this blog. Soon, you’ll be able to spot Scout and Pruf in a doggie line-up.) Prufrock is a champion. He’s very chill at the vet and lets them do what they need to do. Part of it is that he’s just old, part of it is that he’s just a really good dog, and part of it is that he’s super stoic. He does not let on if something is uncomfortable.
Scout, by contrast, never let a feeling go unexpressed. She’s very vocal and opinionated. Both of them are rescues, but Scout, being much younger than Pruf, is much closer to her experience of being abandoned and then rounded up by the local animal shelter. All this by way of saying, the vet is touch and go. Historically, going to the vet with Scouty has been a dicey situation. She cowers, she tongue flicks, she shakes, she releases her anal glands…once, she even snapped at the vet when he leaned over her to give her a treat. Her fear and anxiety go through the roof when strangers get in her face like that (the vet later acknowledged that he knew better than to do that with her).
We don’t know much about Scout’s story. She was found at about 18 months of age wandering the woods in rural southern Ohio. A local shelter picked her up, but they were going to have to put her down because they didn’t have room for her. The shelter staff called a rescue organization in Cincinnati to see if they wanted Scout, and they said yes. Soon, she was at an adoption fair at our local PetSmart with the unfortunate moniker Trixie. We saw her–and Lord know why–we feel in love.
Basically, she was an awful dog because of having been abandoned in the woods. She cowered when we got out the tin foil, she growled if we got to close, she suffered from what seemed like an incurable case of submissive urination (she’d get so scared when we came home from work that she would pee all over herself). She still hides when it thunders and is very scared of the iPod. But she’s much more comfortable with affection and she has even made some human friends aside from us.
Today at the vet was a miracle. Scout was almost happy to be there and watched with great interest as the vet checked Pruf’s heartbeat. When the vet tech, who is amazing, by the way, took Scout in the back to get weighed and have her temperature taken, I could hear her cooing to Scout, telling her what a good girl she was. When the tech returned with Scout, she confirmed that Scout had been really good and didn’t appear to be frightened.
Here’s the kicker: “She let me kiss her on the head.”
That’s what the vet tech said to me. Scout let the tech kiss her on top of the head. I was stunned. I told Scout what a very good girl she was, and she jumped up and hugged me, softly gnawing on my chin.
As we were paying and checking out of the vet’s office, that same tech and I were having a conversation about how much Scout has changed in the 3 years we’ve had her.
And she said this: “It’s amazing what they can do when they learn they can trust you. It’s really all about trust.”
Indeed it is. I’ve watched this creature move from being damaged by lack of trust in humans to thriving because of trusting humans.
It’s the same way with us. We get damaged or we thrive based on the presence of trust.