These were the words of wisdom that my dog Moxie, originally known as Noni, spoke to me well into our relationship. Moxie was a
Portuguese Water Dog (PWD). What set her apart was that she was born with everything the breed didn’t want. She was improperly coated, had short legs, and a unique head. Some felt she was an embarrassment to the breed and should be euthanized.
I was living in WoodstockValley, CT when I received the call from the PWD Rescue that they had a female they wanted to place that had “issues,” I didn’t let it deter me. My other PWD had personality to spare and wefelt he would like a companion,as our other dog was very old.
I felt my husband and I could offer her a home filled with love. I learned early on with Moxie that our resolve would be tested. Saying she had separation anxiety was an understatement. Moxie also drooled profusely, as if a faucet had been turned on. Tethering her was out of the
question—she would chew through almost anything in record time.
It took months before she would look at us. I treated her like my other dogs, or so I thought. It would be a few years into our relationship before she let me know that wasn’t true.
I was given the information of what trainers had done in the name of trying to break her habits. I had a hard time forgetting what I had been told. She was often left in a cage alone. When she chewed at the cage two large dogs were placed on both sides of her who became ferocious
towards her if she tried to chew. Moxie had very few teeth left when she came to us at the age of six.
Moxie’s anxiety had nowhere to go except inside, which manifested as the profuse drooling. Moxie was never tied or caged again and she came
with me and my other dogs on many horseback rides through the woods.
She did progress in her separation anxiety. Progressing to doing well as long as her friends were with her. I repeatedly told her I believed in her to find the answer, and she did. I believe it was the first time anyone had said they believed in her and was proud of her exactly as she was.
I told her of the wisdom on her part that it took to create a world she could tolerate and live in. I also asked her to teach me about that world. I did not tell her she was okay now and could let it go. She would find that truth on her own.
We began to notice an abnormality in her tongue and how it hung out of her mouth. Moxie was diagnosed with a malignant tumor on the roof of her mouth. It was difficult not to feel sorry for what this dog had been through and what she had now been dealt. I knew my sympathy served no purpose. It wasn’t what she needed from me. Thus began my search for how I could best support her.
I was guided to take her to a homeopathic veterinarian who understood that I would not ask Moxie to endure traditional attempts at treatment.
She would live out her life without being asked to endure that. Nothing else would be done to her. She would live it freely for four more years.
I hadn’t noticed up until that point that when introducing Moxie to anyone, the words, “this is my abused dog with cancer,” always found its way
into the conversation. This kind, homeopathic vet gently said to me on one of our visits, “ she is not your abused dog with cancer. She is your beautiful dog.”
It was after that when I asked Moxie how she wanted me to refer to her and to think of her. She reminded me about how I said I would treat her
like my other dogs. She just wanted to be my dog. I was humbled, to say the least. It was after that conversation and others I had with her that I came to realize that, by referring to her as the sum of her experiences, I was keeping alive what she had lived through. I was confusing her with her experience.
In looking deeply into why I was doing that, I had felt I was honoring her experience. Making sure that everyone knew I had saved her. I had
made it about me. Something I asked her to forgive me for.
This is what Moxie shared:
• I am a dog. Please see me that way. Then the
experience can fade for me.
• I am not being abused now; I am not an
• I feel your pity and it worries me. I wonder
what is wrong with me.
• Please don’t see me as a victim it does me no
good. It was an experience and that’s over,
now that I am with you.
• Understand I need time to know myself as
who I really am. Please see me that way, too.
• Love me without pity or anger about my
• Believe in me.
Moxie taught me to see her as the whole being that she was, and to treat her that way, so she could live it. That is a gift I could give her, and did.
She taught me that anger serves no one, least of all her. For Moxie I learned to let go so she could live in the present.
In closing, if you ever have the privilege of caring for a rescued or abused animal, or one that is viewed as less than perfect in any way, don’t confuse letting go and seeing them as whole beings with them
letting go of all behavior learned during their experience. It is their choice what they can and can’t do. That is something they have not experienced up to the time you received them—choice.
Love them unconditionally; do see them as whole beings, not merely as the result of their experience
or their condition. And wait as long as it takes for them to learn they have choices and that not everything is done to them.
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