Thursday, October 7, 2010

Dog with a History

Something that became instantly clear when we got our new dog is that he has a past.

He knows how to walk on a loose leash.  He thinks he's supposed to sleep on the bed. He'd obviously never met a flag pole before. He has a general idea of what the word sit means.  He knows drop, not out, for letting go of the ball.  Nobody ever flushed a toilet in front of him before. He has a plan for getting attention when people turn their backs to him (bit them in the butt).  He's comfortable with kids, women, men and cats. He's had lots of time playing with balls of all sizes.

Our kids ask a lot about his previous life. When did the other people get him? When is his birthday? Did they take him to doggie school?  How sad might they be that he's gone?  What sort of food did he eat before? How did he get lost?

Some people seem to want us to pretend like we're it for him. Act and think like everything he knows and does reflects his relationship and time with us, like his life began in Port Orchard that day we met him.  Maybe because we just don't know anything about his past.  Maybe because it hurts everyone's hearts to imagine a family out there missing him everyday as much as we are enjoying him everyday.  And yet on a daily basis, he shows us otherwise with some practiced command we discover or obviously perfected trick he has.

He is so clearly a dog with a past that formed him to the pooch he is today.  The more we stretch to find those old commands and habits and invite them into our current lives, the easier life is for everyone and more relaxed he becomes.

So here's my big question.  If it is so deeply clear that my one year old dog comes with a past that needs to be discovered and honored, how can people possibly miss this need for their adopted children? How?



awebster said...

Yup. I don't get it either. Of >course< they have a history. And a genetics too. Of course all kids come with genetics and personality. But if they are born to you, there's likely to be a fair amount of you in them. (Well, in personality not always.) But adopted kids come with genetics unlike yours, and even if they are adopted as newborns, they have months of history already.

We adopted our daughter at 14 months, and she had a huge history at that point - 2 sets of parents (first and foster), a foster brother she remembered, foster family she missed, foods she liked and didn't like, a knowledge of juice boxes, ways of relating to people and things that soothed her, fantastic fine motor skills and no muscle tone at all in her legs so she couldn't crawl, let alone walk, nickname, a generous spirit that led her to offer me a cracker within our first few minutes together -- and an obvious past of loving and being loved.

How could you miss that in your child if you were paying any attention to them at all?

Sara said...

So nice to know someone understands my consternation.

I love that your daughter came with a knowledge of juice boxes. It's so fun to see the little things that are important to other beings.

awebster said...

Yeah, the juice box thing was a bit surprising, because she was from a pretty small town by Chinese standards, and well away from anything bigger. But I guess they are pretty ubiquitous. It was really apparent, though, because she reached for one as soon as she saw it. She knew how to use the straw, too. And apparently that took my husband till about 5 to master ;-)
Food was and is >very< important to this girl! She eats almost everything except spicy stuff. And get this - she tries things over and over that she doesn't like and >changes her mind< about them! This blows me away. It is a very rare adult that will do this! She has always been (relatively) easy to take to restaurants and such, as long as the food isn't too slow. And she really thinks about food and identifies tastes as well. We are so lucky! And I never pretend to have any advice for parents of picky eaters.