A rescued rat terrier became a part of our family a couple years ago. At the time, we already had a rattie we adored. Wild Mandrake (Drake to us) came into the world in a loving foster home and joined our pack at eight weeks old. He has lived a posh, air-conditioned life with an abundance of food, toys and attention. Lucy, on the other hand, did not.
Within the first few days of her arrival in our home, we got an inside understanding of why the term for a female dog has been used in such a derogatory manner. Unlike Drake, her animal instincts had been thrust into full-blown survival mode. She would scarf down her food whole and be halfway through Drake’s before he could even sneak a morsel. She’d hide her chewy and steal his. She staked me out as her human and wouldn’t allow Drake within a few feet of me. To his credit, Drake remained his humble, loveable self.
After experiencing her near demonic mood swings, we decided that Lucy’s last name must be Fur. Lucy’s origins were unknown. The only background we were given on her was that she had ended up in a kill shelter, become pregnant in said shelter, and was subsequently on doggie death row.
Lucy was liberated in the nick of time by a nationwide group that collects abandoned rat terriers and places them in foster homes while looking for a furever home for them. She gave birth in the foster home, her puppy was put in the system and she was “fixed”—all part of their policy for making sure that their organization is not overwhelmed by additional unwanted dogs.
Her foster mother warned us that she had a tendency to snap at the other foster dogs in her home, but all we could see at the time was a very scared and shaky little dog that looked like a forlorn twin to our own beloved Drake. Their markings were similar and other than her smaller size and an unexplained scar on her snout, they looked almost identical. Well …
The similarities ended there. Our mild-mannered Drake was dumbfounded by her snarkiness. She would allow us all to hold her and pet her—minimally—but if anything startled her or made her the least bit uncomfortable (our young son approaching her with a little too much enthusiasm, or Drake copping a curious sniff, for instance) she would bare her teeth and attack with rabid ferocity. Did her foster mom actually use the word “snappy??” This poor, little dog had a huge load of baggage.
Now don’t worry yourself. This story has a happy ending. While Lucy hasn’t lost much of her snark, she isn’t vicious anymore. It was a slow road to trust, but she has learned to bare her tummy for a good rubbing with the best of them. She has become the pampered princess, everybody’s favorite nap buddy, and a joy to snuggle.
The point to my story? Lucy has taught me that snarky creatures are still God’s creatures and everybody needs unconditional love. Kindness, a lot of patience and an extra measure of grace will go a long way to melting even the toughest personalities. The tougher the facade, the more pain that is likely hiding underneath. But have no fear, my friend—love really does conquer all.
Love suffers long and is kind; love … bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8