More reflections!

Ray was the first dog that ever became part of my life. This was partly due to being raised with cats as pets, and no doubt also because of a bad experience (when around 14 years old) with a large white German Shepherd.  As much as I thought that bringing Ray into  my  world would be a good decision, I was very aware of the fact that I knew virtually nothing about living with a dog and needed to learn so much. Whereas the staff and trainers at our shelter happily gave their time and experience to assist me, there were inevitably some lessons learned “on the job”!

The following is copied from my book about Ray – “Who Said I was up for Adoption?” Click link in right side column for more information, and/or go to amazon.com for book reviews.

It should be noted that the book is written from both my perspective on events … and Ray’s! Of course Ray’s perspective is simply how I imagine he would relate specific events.

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My perspective – He was looking so relaxed and cuddly one evening that I bent over to stroke him. Not only was he not awake, but he also did not react too well to being disturbed. In fact, he whipped his head around very fast and (I thought) tried to bite me. Thank goodness for my reflexes! My lesson was clearly not to disturb him when he is asleep.

About a week after that incident, he was once again looking very cute and this time I noticed his eyes were open. I reached over him to give him a kiss on the top of his head but, as my lips touched his fur, he spun around and in bite mode. I stood up as fast as I could, but he was leaping up at me and in fact his front claws caught my chest. Again, thankfully, my reflexes saved the day, or at least so I thought.

I related these incidents to our friends at OMHS and they very diplomatically explained that my reflexes had nothing to do with avoiding being bitten. Ray’s reflexes (like any dog) are much, much faster than us mere humans. If Ray had wanted to bite me, I could not have prevented it under those circumstances. What I had experienced was Ray going into survival mode and then, realizing that it was only me, stopped immediately. I am very thankful for that and must remember that Ray may chill out a lot, and may look awake, but is he?

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Ray’s Perspective – I have to tell you about the times that Colin really scared me. I was sound asleep when I felt something touch me. Given my experiences before being picked up by OMHS, I did what any dog with my background would do. I whipped my head round really fast and was going to bite if necessary but, at the last minute, I realized that it was Colin so I stopped myself. That really scared me and, by the look on his face, I think I probably also scared him.

Only a few weeks later, I was sound asleep and dreaming of being surrounded by ginormous yummy treats when something touched the top of my head and it was quite warm. This time I immediately moved out of the way and then jumped up with the intention of attacking and, once again, I realized at the last moment it was Colin. He didn’t learn the first time obviously! I’m sure that he was glad that I didn’t actually bite him, but my front claws must have left marks down his front. I can only assume that he, like me, takes a few times before he learns stuff.

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Many more experiences from the emotional roller coaster ride of the first 18 months of living with Ray are in the book. It is available in eBook, paper back and hard copy formats from all on-line book retailers, and also direct from Friesen Press. As noted earlier, there are many reviews on amazon.com and, finally, all net profits from book sales will be directed to OMHS (Oakville & Milton Humane Society) who initially rescued him, and worked with him to make him a feasible candidate for adoption.

36 thoughts on “More reflections!

    • It’s really no different than dealing with people, in that if you can see a situation from their perspective, it can save a lot of problems. Trying to see the world through Ray’s eyes automatically took away a lot of the “why does he do that?” kind of questioning. In fact getting professional help to read his body language, and to generally understand him was incredibly beneficial. Taking that one step further and adding his perspectives into the book was a natural progression! 🙂

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      • Very true, Colin. Since animal cannot talk we are called to take a step back and try to feel into them. Even more of a challenge when it is a person who does talk but it makes it actually more difficult to understand them. Taking that step back and trying to simply let them be as they are and trying to see the world/situation through their eyes…. Absolutely, writing from the other one’s perspective you give yourself a lot of answers.

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  1. My Elsa is also a rescue….with jumpy reactions to sudden movements, especially waking up. She will also growl menacingly at family members who surprise her as they enter a room. Thankyou Ray and Colin for clarifying why.

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    • I guess if we can look at it from a dog’s perspective, especially ones that have been abused or lived life as a stray for any length of time, then being alert at all times is a survival skill. When we walk Ray, and when Carol has the leash, I will always stay alert for activity coming up from behind and will block if necessary. I am not too sure what Ray would do if he was touched unexpectedly.

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  2. Sounds like you experienced Sleep Startle. Our dogs can sleep quite deeply and their natural instincts are to protect themselves when woken from a sound sleep. Sleep startle is common in greyhounds, as they often sleep with their eyes open.

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  3. They really are quite amazing aren’t they! Strong and fast enough to do us great harm if they wanted or needed to but yet so smart and instinctive to know we are trying our best. That sentence, like the way you wrote your book, could be from Ray’s perspective but no it’s from ours; us two legged students trying our best.

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  4. What is Ray exactly, besides being a beautiful dog? Is he a mongrel, or in today’s politically correct jargon, a hybrid? I love his face although, I have to admit, while volunteering at the Humane Society, I met a pug the other day, and I liked his face too. It must be in the genes, but I don’t know if it is there’s or mine:)

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