Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Happy one year "placement" Maddie!

Maddie joined our family a year ago today. She was adopted from the Humane Society when she was 3 years old. To be honest, she wasn't the cutest dog when we got her. She had recently had puppies and so had lost lots of her hair, and looked like she hadn't had a bath in months. After "fostering" her for a weekend, daddy said OK to keeping her and she was ours!

For the first five months, Maddie was not the ideal pet. She pooped on the floor all the time, peed all over the family room rug and bit two kids, who happened to be our neighbors and good friends. We were also not the ideal owners. We hadn't done a lot of reading on adopting or training a dog and didn't have her kenneled when we left the house, so she had free reign.

After biting the second neighbor, Jon and my dad were adamant that she go back to the Humane Society, but I just couldn't do it. I felt like I had failed her. All I could think of was "if I can't take care of a dog and deal with her imperfections and somehow work with her to handle them, how can I even think about adopting two little boys who will come home not trusting us, be scared out of their minds, have no idea what we are saying to them, and be their mother?"

So, the next morning, I spoke to several dog trainers, went to the library and read a couple books, listened to Cesar on CD and started training her myself. I began to really pay attention to her needs and learn her habits, and to be consistent, loving and firm with her. Within a few months, she stopped growling at little kids, making messes on the floor and started to let us know when she had to go outside. She needed time to get to know us, be comfortable in our home, and trust us. Her barking still drives us nuts, but when she barks, she thinks she is protecting us, which is sweet. Terribly annoying, but sweet.

I can see now that God used our dog to give us just a small taste of what life will be like when we bring home two new children. I know that I cannot compare caring for a dog to caring for two children, but there are some similarities. We won't know their pasts or what they have endured in their short lives. They will not trust us, understand us or be comfortable in our home for a while. They will need time to attach and bond to us and us to them, just like Maddie did. Praise God for using this bundle of cute black fur to teach us a lesson.

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