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It could have gone horribly wrong…

Ihave been quite delighted and rather amazed with the response I’ve received from folks who are following this journey with Aaron Foster. I am grateful for your kind support, the many times you’ve said “Atta boy, Aaron,” or “You go girl, Mary Doane.” I’m deeply thankful for your willingness to share your thoughts, your ideas, and your stories. I’ve noticed something new in the last few days. That is, a willingness to support each other’s views and suggestions about training, care and management of this dog, Aaron. If you’ll take a peek at the comments posted after my last two blog posts, you’ll see just what I mean. One trainer respectfully supporting the advice of another, offering praise not only to me and to Aaron, but also to each other. I just love that. Deborah Flick who hosts a wonderful blog about her journey with Sadie, praising the work and advice of both Barrie Lynn and Debbie Jacobs. Irith Bloom recognizing all the great tips from others. And, if you think all these folks have been working together for years… think again. They know each other in a virtual way… mostly, they’re twitter anipals…@boulderdog1, @barrie and @fearfuldogs, @TheSophDog, respectively. Often the comments among trainers and friends “piggyback” on each other. The commentary is not only playful… it’s genuinely kind and quite joyful. There is a developing sense of community here at this Mary’s Dogs Blog. And it’s all focused around a dog from Darlington, South Carolina who had no time left. That’s cool.

Aaron on the move!

Aaron on the move!

Let’s face it: this could have gone terribly wrong. We could be going into Week Three with a dog who isn’t even willing to come out of his crate. The few photos of Aaron we received showed a dog in deep despair who had seemingly lost all hope. And those eyes! My adult son told me last night just how frightening those eyes looked to him. To my son, and to many, it seemed as if Aaron might have reached right out through that doggie slammer door and bitten you as you walked by. Hmm.

Wow. It could have gone horribly wrong. Sure, we had the South Carolina rescue folks, Beth and Susan (and others, I’m sure) who were pushing hard for a rescue placement for this dog and who were quite sure that given enough time and a better location (anywhere but in the shelter environment) he would bounce back. And, really that was all I had to go on.

I’ve come to realize that this foster journey isn’t about this one dog, Aaron Foster. One dog rescued and placed with one family at one moment in time is, exactly that. A onetime event. It’s a big deal, surely, for that one dog and that one family. Yet, it seems to me that this story reaches beyond what’s happening here at the home for wayward dogs. There’s not only a nurturing of peace through the process, as I’ve described in previous blog posts, but also a cultivating and feeding of community. To me, that’s service. And, since I think through the lens of both an animal advocate and a Unitarian Universalist minister… this is…well…ministry.

Aaron takes a break...

Aaron takes a break...

I wouldn’t consider myself to be a “people person” and I wouldn’t be the first “dog person” to admit it. Yet, what’s happening here undeniably affects both humans and animals. You can’t save dogs without people. People getting along. People honoring each other and the process of healing. People celebrating the accomplishments of others. Communities of people sharing ideas, vision and goals. For one dog. For each dog. For all the dogs who are almost out of time.

It really could have gone poorly.

But it hasn’t, as you’ll see in the video below. We are beginning to satisfy my Non-negotiable #3. I wish I had a little more background on Aaron. Where did he come from? Has he been a stray all his life? Did he ever have a family? I have my suspicions. I’m not sure what is triggering his anxiety about a leash. But that’s no matter, really. As we all know, dogs live in the moment. So, this is a new moment for Aaron Foster. I’ve compacted some work we’ve done over the last few days. Namely, the introduction of a harness and leash. What you’ll see in the video however, is the very first time that Aaron moves forward when I say, “Let’s go.” Whew! That’s major for us! Here’s a thought: never take your dog’s leash walking skills for granted! It’s just not easy for some dogs. But we’re making progress… and it’s all on Aaron’s terms! Enjoy and feel free to comment playfully!