I was watching this video this week, and while it has nothing to do with dogs, it made me think about dogs in shelters. I understand if you don’t want to watch the video, because it’s a little long, but it does a wonderful job of illustrating my point. You don’t have to look for anything specific when you watch it, just enjoy Elias for who he is.
Elias is seven years old. He has never cut his hair. He hasn’t mastered social skills yet, but he’s obviously very sweet and tries hard to appease people. He is also an incredibly talented musical prodigy.
When you were watching the video, were you bothered by his long hair? Did his behavior start to grate on your nerves a little? Were you starting to wonder about why his parents let him be such a free spirit? At the end of the video, were you amazed that something so beautiful could come out of such a small and imperfect body?
Think about going to a shelter to meet potential new dogs. Have you ever met a dog like Elias there? When someone opened a kennel, were you overwhelmed by the enthusiastic greeting of a dog who couldn’t stop jumping on you and licking you? Did you want to take a step back just to catch your breath? Were you curious about the potential of the crazy dog you were looking at?
I think back to the day in July when we went up to visit the adoption kennel. When they brought this bony black dog in, I confess that I first I saw everything that was wrong with her. There was a small scar on her face, and another one on her butt, probably from rubbing it against something too much. The dog had a kink at the end of her tail that made it look like something that belonged on a monkey. Not to mention that she was black and black dogs are hard to photograph. She was a live wire, bouncing off the walls and the people. It would have been easy not to give her a second look.
And yet, something did make me look again. I’d taken a picture of her inside in a rare moment of laying down and when I looked at it on the camera, I realized what stunning gold eyes she had. I noticed that she had some little freckles in her white tuxedo that stretched down her chest. There was also an incredible sweetness to this young dog. She might have been a busybody, but she kept returning to us for attention. My second look turned into a third look and then a couple of days later, we went back up to the kennel and brought her home.
There’s a saying in Greyhound adoption that the dog you bring home from the kennel is not the same dog you’ll have in a year. That has been true every time we adopted a Greyhound, and it’s just as true this time. Flattery has blossomed here. She’s not perfect, and I can’t expect that of her when I’m not perfect myself, but she is learning. There is still a wild puppy in her heart, but when we go to visit at the nursing home, she is an incredible visitor. She has a true knack for charming people and I think she will only get better with practice. The camera loves her and when I look at her now, I see one of the most beautiful dogs I’ve ever looked at. Am I biased? Of course I am. The beauty of it is that while I didn’t see what I needed to the first time I looked, I saw enough with the second glance to make me look deeper.
Seven months later, I am still learning new things about our newest addition. Some of them are sweet and others are funny. A few are frustrating as all get out. Yet I’m still incredibly glad that I looked a little deeper this time. Most of the people reading this aren’t looking for a new canine family member right now, but I hope that when you are, you take this to heart. Elias could be very different if he had parents who had tried to curb his enthusiasm for what he loves and change who he is. He might not have been able to reach his incredible potential. The world would have missed an amazing talent. Flattery is no musical prodigy, but her potential is still undiscovered. I have a feeling that she will be an incredible ambassador for Greyhounds in her lifetime, but we will have to wait and see. If we hadn’t looked again, we might have missed a beautiful opportunity that was just waiting to be discovered. Try to look past the pent up energy and the incredible excitement to meet you and look for the potential that’s locked inside that ball of fur. You might discover a lot more than you bargained for, in the very best sense.