Compassion, in which all ethics must take root, can only attain its full breadth and depth if it embraces all living creatures and does not limit itself to mankind.
As John, Ryan and I work through the challenges and rewards of living with our newest family member Finn, compassion is always on our minds. Bringing a rescue dog into the family has been an eye-opening experience but we are fully committed to providing him with the best home and second chance at life he could imagine and in return the loyal, loving dog he was meant to be is slowly starting to emerge.
We don’t have any information about Finn’s early years but we do know he was abandoned in California and rescued from doggie death row by a group dedicated to transporting dogs to no-kill shelters around the Pacific Northwest. When we found him at his second shelter he was under weight, anxious and full of fear, lashing out at any new person or animal that approached him. Something clicked though when we came to visit and he surprised his foster mom by cautiously approaching us, then sat quietly on the grass waiting for a carefully placed treat. When he happily followed Ryan for a short walk around the yard we knew he was the dog for us but daily life is much different from an hour in a sunny yard and these first three months together have been anything but quiet or easy. They’ve been full of learning and compassion but very little quiet.
Finn reacts to most people, animals and noises with an overwhelming urge to keep everything away. His bark, teeth and claws are on full display and it’s all he can do to keep breathing while he fights to stay safe. We’ve enlisted the help of a wonderful dog trainer with a background in rescue animals to help us find our path through this fear and we’re slowly building some shared trust while comforting Finn with the knowledge that he doesn’t have to fight everything. We will take care of the big scarey stuff. With a steady diet of good food, lots of sleep, regular exercise, consistent care and engaging activities his health is improving, anxiety levels are dropping and he’s up to a normal weight so I can see that our positive reinforcement approach is starting to show real results.
When we first talked about adopting a pet we knew we wanted a dog that would be big enough to join us for hikes through the forest and fun afternoons at the beach while still being small enough to fit comfortably in our home. While Finn meets both of these conditions he still isn’t ready to safely spend the day hiking. As a compromise I’m working my way through the overgrown side of our backyard, carving out trails where he can hunt, dig and explore to his heart’s content. Our yard isn’t fully fenced so we are careful to provide appropriate supervision but he’s already spent hours next to me on a long lead supervising the work then jumping and diving through ferns looking for squirrels. These two photos are from last weekend’s work session and if I have time before the Superbowl starts today we’ll keep digging into the brush to extend his range a little farther into the yard. We know there are months of work and conditioning ahead before we can attempt an all day outing but my goal is for a beautiful summer hike with a happy dog by our side. I’ll keep you posted!