"The Tale of the Worst Dog in the World: What ends up becoming a Heartwarming Tale of Understanding"
Some could say Opie is the worst dog in the world. Oh, I know that sounds dramatic, but sit back and hear his (and my) tale of Woe. Opie Arrived on our farm right before Christmas 2014. From the first moment, He ran from everyone in the household. Ran. Hid. It took effort to catch this 8 pound creature for any purpose. And note that . . .he would not be coaxed with anything. He enjoyed nothing. He would not eat if you stayed with him. But at the same time, he was so afraid to be alone, yet was too concerned to eat when left. He was petrified of his crate. He would cry and bark for hours on end if put inside, then he was too afraid to be out and not cower in every corner. He would just run away from the people he really wanted to see. If he was held, he shook violently. If he was sat down, he was nearly in a convulsion. He did not know how to be with other dogs. He was not willing to "Go Potty" on a leash or walk outside, so the indoors was the only option. He marked. And Marked. And Marked. Everything. Twice. Long after being neutered. While he wanted to be away from people, when left, even for a few minutes, he would destroy everything in his path from the anxiety his loneliness caused. He ate books, shoes, belts, movies, toys, jeans, jackets, buttons, wood, paper, wrapped gifts. . .that was just in one day. It didn't stop. He barked, he cried, he destroyed, he cowered, he hid, he made the house a bathroom, he ran away. . .and then begged for company. He killed the chicks we hatched out inside when one made the mistake of flying out of the little brooder when it was still too cold to move them outside. If you're still with me, you have probably gathered that in the grand scheme of bad, there were few, if any, areas Opie hadn't covered and mastered. So Bad. . . You know, Bad can mean "not such as to be hoped for or desired," and there is no reason to make up a story here. That is what he was, "Not" what was hoped for or desired. I began to feel he was hopeless; life was so bad for him, so hard to endure. . .we were reaching a cross-roads where I did not know how this could be considered reasonable, anymore. You might have guessed I will not leave it at that, though. So often we see the mistakes and the "what". . .but we never look further to see the "why" or even bother to ask. I often wonder if most folks even care. Opie's 1st Anniversary with us just passed. It has been a rough year. Have no doubt. Now that I've told you the "What," let me tell you the "Why," and you let me know whether your thoughts on this little fellow change somewhat or entirely. . . Skipping back to how I ended up with this dog: I saw a photo of this skeletal tiny canine standing on a wet, concrete floor in a very poor County in a West Virginian pound last December. A dappled intact male Dachshund. In the second photo, I saw a litter of purebred puppies. His. This pound is in one of the poorest counties in America. No real funding, a high Euthanasia rate and conditions that we would never want our personal pets to endure. He had been turned in by a backyard breeder that day with the litter. Something was wrong with the pups. They brought the mother in, but the breeder explained she was keeping her to continue breeding. . .but the puppies and the father of were being dumped. Someone's problem now, they were. . .not her's. That is what we KNOW. Here is what common sense and a life of animal rescue tells me beyond that confirmed story. . . Opie was a product of decades of shoddy backyard breeding. He lived in a crate where he slept, ate a little poor quality food and eliminated. He was never handled except when pulled out to breed a female. He barked constantly and was harmed often because it was annoying. His joints, from lack of walking and poor breeding, made the already questionable front legs we see in this breed greatly exacerbated to where you have to note the severe crooked angle when you see him and know that may not even hold up as years pass. He never saw outside. He was isolated and unable to touch others but able to see them from his crate, able to look into their crates and long for friendship, as all dogs will. And then the fear, sadness, destruction and longing he has suddenly makes sense, doesn't it? You feel more compassion and want to see a happy ending for him, I imagine. I encourage you to stop and consider how this applies to not only the animals you encounter, but to the people you meet daily and to those you think you know so well. How different one might be if the path they walked when they were not in control had been more kind, less violent, contained more love and less loss, eh? And many dogs have lived through the same type of mess as Opie and remained friendly and outgoing. An easy way to better understand mankind is to consider our kind's best friend. . . We aren't all made out of the same stuff, though. Some of us are fragile and need more. This applies to us and to them. To think of how we would handle or react to anything has little to do with your friends' capacities, all too often. And remember, there is reason to hope. For eventually, consistent love and gentleness changes most everything and everyone. Not always, but so often. . . And these days Opie sleeps with the rest of the dogs and his boy, My oldest son. He scratches to be let into his "room" with his boy at night to go to bed. Sometimes he will trot away when he knows he will be picked up, but sometimes, he stands there like a champ and just allows it, Being as Brave as he can be. Now and again, he will go to the door and want to walk around outside. He will eat with an audience or without. He will take a treat if you catch him on a good day. And lastly, he will, if he thinks you're sleeping, whine and jump up and down until he climbs up onto the couch to sleep by one's foot in the living room. And darn it all, if he still doesn't destroy most everything he can get a hold of if you're silly enough to leave it in his path and leave him alone. . .even if for just a few moments. (Opie tonight next to a present he tried to unwrap)