[Editor’s note: So many of you have asked if I will be accepting guest posts here at Primility, and a few of you have even submitted posts for my review. I cannot describe how exciting that is, and how proud it makes me, to see other people filled with enthusiasm about primility — and bursting with ideas to share. So I am going to start sharing these guest posts regularly. I’m thrilled to do so. And we’ll start with Peter Morneault, one of the very first Primility subscribers.]
I have grown accustomed to having intellectually stimulating conversations with Elena, a foster mom for a rescue dog foundation.
She and I share a common passion: we like dogs.
Scratch that. We LOVE dogs. So, as professionals we do what we can to help disabled, broken, and unwanted dogs become adoptable.
As a dog trainer, I have worked with a wide variety of dogs: little dogs, big dogs, aggressive dogs, shy dogs. I try to help them all.
But even years of experience and a passion for my work never prepared me for the following example of primility …
The dog who lost his jaw
I wondered what challenging case Elena had for me when I saw her name appear on my Caller ID.
“Peter, I’ve got another interesting dog that I need your help with.”
“Okay. What’ve you got?”
“He’s a young, male pit bull mix of sorts, with an uncertain, but horrific past. He’s missing his lower jaw and he’s real submissive. You know, one that pees all over the place when he gets excited or scared. And he got aggressive with me when I found a BB lodged in his shoulder.”
“Wait. What? He’s missing his jaw?”
“Yeah. He’s another rescue that came in the other day. His lower jaw was just hanging. The vets had no choice but to remove it. Are you up for the challenge? He’s a bit of a mess.”
“Wow! I’ll do what I can. When can I meet him?”
When I met Wilson, he maneuvered his body between my legs with the skill of a cruise ship entering a narrow harbor. He leaned into me as my hands explored his coat.
I found the BB. I was careful not to manipulate it too much for fear of provoking an aggressive response. Elena had told me that he wasn’t too fond of men.
I continued to explore Wilson’s ears, muscles, feet, tail, and lastly, his mouth. As you can see, he only has about 1/4 of his lower jaw.
Wilson didn’t dislike men — he wasn’t aggressive toward me, although he was reluctant to make eye contact, with his eyes bulged and his ears pulled tightly to his head.
Wilson was terrified. He didn’t know how to trust anyone. Someone had obviously abused Wilson and stripped him of his self-confidence. He only knew how to survive. He certainly didn’t know how to be a dog.
Wilson’s body language spoke to me. He was being humble and asking me to help him.
Elena told me, “The vet said he should only eat moist food because it will be easy for him to eat.”
Wilson had a better idea.
Elena spread a cup of dry kibble on a towel. Wilson skillfully prostrated his front quarters on the ground, turned his head so that his cheek was on the towel, and used his tongue to shovel a few morsels of kibble onto his rear teeth.
“Yeah. He doesn’t like moist food. And he’s put on a healthy couple of pounds.”
I stood in awe and watched Wilson chomp away. He used problem-solving skills to overcome the hardship of having a surgically repaired mouth. He used experiments to solve a dilemma. Did he fail a few times before finding a method that worked? Most likely. But he persisted until he found a solution.
A lesson in pride and humility
I took Wilson for a walk. With a few minutes of guidance, patience, and someone leading him, Wilson began to let go of his anxiety and fear.
How does a dog, with no lower jaw, smile? He uses his whole body. He sits with his rear legs squarely beneath his hips. His front legs are parallel. He holds his head high. He lets his tail relax and doesn’t tuck it beneath him. His eyes are big, bright, and full of life.
Although Wilson still didn’t make eye contact with me, he was learning what it felt like to be free from anxiety and fear.
He sat before me with pride as if to say, “I can do this. I can conquer my fear of humans. I can trust people again.”
Wilson’s humility allows him to embrace his past physical and emotional pain and suffering. His humility allowed his foster mom, vet, and me to help him.
His pride will undoubtedly make him attractive as a dog who will be a faithful companion to a loving and caring family. Wilson will have a happy life.
Thank you, Wilson for allowing me to be your teacher and your student. Thank you for exhibiting humility and pride.
Be Kind. Be Thankful. Be Significant.