Because of a little dog in a cart, my life was profoundly changed. Rugby’s life was changed too, because it’s amazing what can happen in your heart when you know that someone cares. Something that simple changed my life. I started to have real hope….and with hope, I honestly believe that anything is possible.
Following up on the heels of my “Denby Dog” posts, I wanted to continue with some additional thoughts. Saying good-bye to Denby Dog a year ago was as hard as if he had been my own dog. I had grown to love him so very deeply, and a part of me wished he really was Super Denby, to live forever and leap that tall building of DM with a single bound.
“Corgi On, Corgi Strong” became Denby’s battle cry, and I’ve often seen it used to bring hope and encouragement anytime someone is facing a tough obstacle. Those four little words represent so much hope….and tough resiliance.
That’s really, really important to those of us with high needs dogs. We can’t ever lose hope, but we also have to be as tough as nails to keep that hope alive. We have to fight for our dogs’ hearts, because we live in a world that wants to silence their bark. Now in all honesty, and just to add in a bit of a smile….trust me….Rugby is such a huge barker, that I some days, I would love to quiet his bark! Trust me on that one! But silence it? Never!
Our special needs dogs are the odd ducks of the dog world. Some of them would be the strangers we see talking to themselves as they walk down the street. Still others would be the ones who just don’t understand that loud plaids don’t work with stripes in coordinating an outfit to wear in public! But there’s still a place in the world for those folks, and I like to think that there’s a place in the world for the wacky Rugby-type dogs as well.
Denby Dog gave me so many gifts it’s hard to mention them all….in part because some of the things I have learned, I didn’t even know I was being taught. On occasion, that little breeze will blow past me, and I’ll have that “Aha” moment, and I’ll realize that there was yet another lesson that I caught and didn’t realize it.
So here are a few things that made Denby one of the most profound teachers I’ve ever had. Here are some of the things I’ve learned.
- Never miss an opportunity to let people and dogs know that you care. The famous leadership guru John Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Once Denise took time to care about me and my little spotted and speckled pooch, I felt 10 feet tall!! That’s absolutely the way to be in life!
- Be real and be who you are….drool and all! I was so afraid to let any of my clients know that Rugby was a mess for fear that they wouldn’t have confidence in my ability to train their dogs. I felt like I was in the “closet” with my own dog, and I hated it! It took a lot of “Corgi Strong” courage to be honest and come out with my dog’s high needs, but I think most people who hire me respect the fact that I hang in there with Rugby. I hope that helps them understand that I’ll hang in there with their dogs too!
- Find a way to make lemonade out of lemons! One of my very, very favorite Denby photos is his “Bad Ass” photo! I just love
that photo! There came a time with DM where Denby could no longer pee and poop without help. So Denise just took this development in stride, and dressed Denby in the very best hot pants I’ve ever seen! Talk about making lemonade out of some lemons! As the owner of a high needs dog, I get plenty of lemons thrown my direction from my little guy, but I’ve learned to take those things in stride and just keep chugging along. Never give up….never surrender. That’s the heart of Corgi On, Corgi Strong!
- Life is an adventure, so you might as well enjoy the ride! There were so many adventures that Denby had….all while confined to a red racer cart! Because of Rugby’s inability to cope with much change, we really can’t do a lot of adventures in the traditional sense. But we can have a picnic in our yard if we can’t go to the park, right? I’ve just found ways to have fun at home…keeping Rugby’s world as small as he needs it to be.
- Focus on what your dog can do, rather than what he can’t! This is a lesson that honestly I already knew, but Denby helped me take that even deeper. Hope will fly right out the window if you wallow in all of the things that your dog can’t do. Any progress forward is a step in the right direction, even if it’s a baby step! I remember as a kid, reading the advice column “Ann Landers.” One time, a reader wrote in, lamenting about how she wished she could go to college, but that she’d be close to 50 when she graduated. Ann’s answer was brilliant! She asked, “How old will you be if you don’t go?” The point is just keep moving forward as best you can….even if it is only baby steps. If you never give up….who knows? You might just get there!