Leila’s Legacy - a long story but worth the read. Leila was
with us for just a short period of time but touched us so much.
R.I.P June 2011
Leila joined Sylvia’s Angel Pack in January 2010. Call it serendipity, coincidence, fate or whatever you like, I fervently believe this beautiful Belgian Shepherd who was wandering the streets and slowly starving to death in the freezing cold came to us as an "old soul" with a mission. That mission was to focus our attention specifically toward the plight of the older rescue dogs and to educate us to the facts that, "old" does not mean needy; "old" does not mean pitiful; "old" does not mean weak. In fact, "old" is beautiful; "old" is wise; "old" is an awareness beyond the comprehension of most human beings.
For Sylvia it was love at first sight. Leila, however, had some serious trust issues and was not going to accept just anyone making approaches to her, and yet she undoubtedly needed human company and hated being separated from people. Although she loved human company she was very choosy about who could share her space or indeed who could give her food or treats. She had a severe ear infection and was in fact stone deaf, but that did not hold her back – once she had decided "survival" was the order of the day, that was just how it was going to be.
Leila's recuperation, her ability to continually communicate her moods, needs, preferences and dislikes, have all been part of a journey of discovery and awakening which have profoundly affected Sylvia and myself in a very cathartic and spiritual way.
As is the case in all "rescue" situations the temptation to imagine what Leila had been through, what she had experienced, how she had been hurt, was very much at the forefront of our minds in the early days and Sylvia began dreaming of her in her previous life and it was not pleasant! The dreams were vivid, disturbing and left Sylvia feeling distressed and very protective of our special girl.
It is neither surprising nor unusual when we become so connected to our dogs, that we empathise and show compassionate understanding, but it is so vitally important to successful rehabilitation that we avoid the negative energies of pity and sorrow. We should bring to the relationship a positive energy which reflects the magnificence of the dog we are sharing the experience with.
If there has been pain, fear, cruelty and abuse then feeling sorry for the dog is turning it into a victim when in fact it is a wonderful survivor and our attitude should reflect our belief in the dog and show our ability to trust, which in turn will show in our strength as a leader and in our trustworthiness to the dog.
In canine terms there is no room for "victim psychology", there are survivors and those that do not survive.
Sadly when we are talking about domestic canines, our "pet dogs", then we are looking at animals which have to survive living in our environment, often with people who have no understanding of canine behaviour traits and have unrealistic expectations of how dogs should fit into their lives.
In the more severe cases these dogs are not valued at all as sentient beings, but are treated as possessions, to be kept or cast off at the "owner’s" whim; treated as punch-bags or footballs to vent frustration or anger; or simply considered as merely dumb animals. Yet at no time during their ordeal will they ever feel sorry for themselves or consider themselves as victims, instead they will try to live within this environment and stoically endeavour to survive.
It never ceases to amaze me how the resilience of the dog’s spirit shines through. I find it humbling how dogs find within themselves the ability to forgive mankind for its cruelty; for its ignorance and for the arrogant belief that in the animal kingdom, man is superior.
It is time we started to take responsibility for our environment, protect those weaker than ourselves, speak for those without a voice, recognise when things are out of balance, open our minds to a greater understanding of the world and its energy and start connecting with all other sentient beings.
It is time to look in the mirror and ask the Big Question: "do you like what you see?" Fortunately, many of us will be able to answer "yes" so all is not lost; there is hope for us and the other animals we share our world with. If we eradicate, educate and emanate – eradicate cruelty in all forms, educate those who are cruel through ignorance, and emanate an energy of healing and respect toward all living things, particularly those less fortunate than ourselves – then the world will become a much better place.
A "Rosette Remembrance" dedicated to the 26 strong Members of the Angel Pack, Past and Present. Courtesy of Elaine Reid of Reenie's Rosettes.
Professional Dog Training Services UK.
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