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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Our Fraidy Cat Dogs

Summer is upon us with the usual violent thunderstorms, full of lightning and thunder.  Our Scottish terriers surprise us when the usually brave guy becomes frightened, and the formerly-abused guy takes it all in stride.  Generally, they are exactly the opposite.

Both dogs came to us as puppies.  Misha came from a good home, breeders who flew him to us, very appropriate for a jet-setting Scottie to get his start in life that way.  He was sweet, or as sweet as a puppy who chews on everything in sight can be.  No major issues.

Grisha, however, was a rescue.  He had been abandoned at a kennel.  The story was that he was given to an elderly man who died.  The family had placed the puppy in a kennel when the man became ill, but never reclaimed Grisha, not wanting to pay the boarding fees.  A friend got them to sign away their rights and brought him to us.  He had issues.

You could not walk near the little guy without him jumping sky-high and running for his life.  It was as though he was sure he would be kicked or stepped on.  Another time Benedetto was going to read a newspaper and unfurled it.  Grisha headed for the hills.  Apparently, he was used to being struck with a newspaper.

The family had to take everything slowly with Grisha, even though vets estimated he was all of four weeks old when he came to us.  Somehow, the fear of the past, however brief it was, became ingrained into his psyche.

Enter the summer storms.  First the high winds and rumble of thunder from afar.  Then the lightning comes closer and the thunder crashes louder.  Misha, who is not afraid of anything, starts to cower and shake, and seeks me out.

“Come here, my big baby,” I pick him up, soothing and cooing to him.  “Mama’s here.  It’s alright.”

I can feel him shuddering before I stroke him over and over, doing Misha-massage therapy.

“You’re okay, big guy.  Nothing’s going to hurt you.”  He melts into me, a big, black fur accessory on my chest and shoulder.

Meanwhile, Grisha, who can still awake with a start if anyone’s foot happens to lightly graze him in the car, or on a bed… is fine. No post-traumatic stress disorder surfaces.  As Misha tries to keep himself from hyperventilating, Grisha happily sits next to me.  What a role reversal!

How is it that big, brave Misha is turned into the scaredy cat, while traumatized Grisha takes it all in stride?  Maybe stress, and chaos, and uncertainty feel more normal for the younger.

The family breathes a sigh of relief when the literal, and emotional, storm passes.  The grass has been watered, the cars rinsed off, and the power is still on.  The doggies are okay and all is well.



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2 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Sybil says:

    Our current dog, Maggie was a rescue and a good year and a half old when she joined us. She was so traumatized from what she had been through that she couldn’t even look at us. If you talked to her she stared at the wall. If you gestured too fast with your hands or arms she cowered. She slunk around a lot of the time like she was going to get in trouble for just being. Her behaviors took years to get into a better place for her. But, she was oh so sweet and always needy of touch. How I hope humans who have had early trauma can understand more and adapt more easily to a good situation in their lives.

    • avatar admin says:

      You’re absolutely right, Sybil. There are sooo many parallels between our kids and our dogs, depending on who’s been through what. Little Grisha craves touch and needs to constantly be around us when in the beginning he was very fearful. And that was after only about one or at the most two months of life-! It encourages me to give our kids time and touch. I remember in an earlier blog I wrote about how our 2nd son would shrink back when I would gesture rapidly near him…. It’s exciting to realize that change can and does happen, even in very severe cases.

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