Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Memory (#atozchallenge)

I rescue dogs. I pick them up off the street, I bring them to the vet for assessment, I administer medication. If they make it, I rehabilitate them so they can find a forever home (which, more often than not, turns out to be my own--reason why I have seven dogs).

Rescue dogs are extraordinary. They've been through hell--negligence, abuse, abandonment. They've learned that humans are dangerous. That food must be fought for and protected. That sleeping too soundly is a death sentence. Their trust has been betrayed in every way you can think of.

And yet they're willing to trust again. Not just that; they're willing to put it all behind them and move forward.

If we let them.

I used to feel sorry for them. How could I not? I found them a day away from death, maybe even hours. I found them with gashes, with gunshot wounds, sick inside and out. Poor baby, I'd whisper against their matted fur. Poor, poor baby.

It took forever for the dog to move forward.

No, correction: it took forever for me to move forward so that the dog could, too. I, and my pity--my memory--were holding them back.

When a trainer friend taught me this, I made an effort to suppress my pity and treat the dog as a non-traumatized animal. Lo and behold--the dog began to act as a non-traumatized dog.

Which brings me to my point. The image we have of someone--or of ourselves--will show up in our behavior. It will reinforce that image. It will, in a very literal sense, make that image a reality.

Memory is a gift--but it can be a curse. Be careful what memories you hold on to, what images you project. About others, but also, perhaps most importantly, about yourself.

Pity--and everything else--is in the eye of the beholder.

~ * ~
Thanks for the visit, and happy A-to-Z-ing!

26 comments :

  1. Memory is a gift--but it can be a curse. Love that line! Love how you use life with dogs as a metaphor to real life!

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  2. What a beautiful post! I never would have thought to treat a traumatized animal as a normal animal. And I love your analogy.

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    1. I don't know anyone who doesn't, by instinct, give special treatment to a traumatized animal, Carry-Anne. I think it's built in us. Powerful lesson for me :) Thanks for the visit!

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  3. That's the truth, Guilie! Feeling sorry for someone - and showing it is the worst thing, most of the time. Hugs! I love you for being a rescuer!

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  4. Be careful what memories you hold on to - I shall try to remember that!
    Another superb post - another good point, well made. I'm so glad I found you.

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    1. The feeling's mutual, Keith :) I look forward to many visit exchanges--during and after April. Thanks!

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  5. I learned this when I watched Ceasar Millan's show-- and now I watch my image of dogs. And humans.

    Another wonderful post, Guilie.

    Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2014, My Latest post

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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    1. I've learned so much from Cesar too, Damyanti. He's awesome. Thanks for the visit!

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  6. I seriously falling in love with your blog! You are connecting human life with that of dogs so beautifully. And it's absolutely true that animals can teach us in the most simple ways. And yes, our perception shows up pathetically in our behaviour..

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    1. I love hearing that these posts strike a chord with readers, Natasha--you've made my day :) Thank you!

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  7. Great Post! Your message/lesson is so important for all aspects of life. I am so glad I found you on the A to Z challenge! Petnetio Anu

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    1. Thank you so much! I've been trying to find your blog since the last time you visited, but your Blogger profile doesn't have any links. If you visit again, would you leave me a link so I can visit you back? Thank you!

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  8. That's great. Dogs live in the now people always say, but memory shapes that now.

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    1. Exactly, Mary! Thanks for joining the conversation :)

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  9. What a great message, I couldn't agree more! New follower here!

    ~Mr.McLovin at Fuel For The Furnace

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    1. I'm honored, Mr. McLovin--both for the praise and your follow :) Look forward to many visit exchanges :)

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  10. Nice to have made it to your second blog, Guilie. Sad, yet uplifting post. Bad memories can hold back and torment, yet letting go isn't always easy. But it's the only way to move forward, for the animals (poor dogs) and for the people.

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    1. Silvia! So nice to see you on the dog blog :) Indeed, letting go is a hard thing, but--like you say--it's the only way forward. Thanks for the visit!

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  11. Great post, Guilie. My dog's a rescue. She had some trauma when I got her, which was probably from her previous owners that abused her. But over time, she warmed up to me and my family. Now, she follows me around like my shadow, lol. I think dogs are more forgiving of the past and are willing to move on if we are too. Thanks for sharing your wonderful post.

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    1. Lanise, thank YOU for the visit--and for adopting a rescue! They're not easy; they come with baggage, with behaviors we have no idea how to address--because we have no idea how they learned them. Training a rescue is a challenge, and the fact your dog has become your shadow speaks volumes about you: you've respected her space, you've shown sufficient constancy so that she can trust you, you've loved her unconditionally. In my book, that makes you a hero :)

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  12. solid wisdom and dogs!!! what could be better? !!! :) jean

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  13. Such a great post Guilie thank you. How true this is ... we must rid ourselves of the memory of other as victim, not only for the person or dog or whoever, but for ourselves too. Image becomes reality - so well put thank you so much.
    Garden of Eden Blog

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  14. Superb post!
    Somebody (I don't remember who) once said .. Feel for a person who's suffering/suffered, don't feel sorry for him/her.

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