Longtime readers will recall that, when we first brought Dudley home, seven years ago this month, he was a very scared boy.
He was so timid that he would urinate on himself in a submissive gesture every time I got near him. I spent long hours lying on the floor, next to his crate where he felt safe, synchronizing my breathing to his, quiet and still, to reassure him I would never hurt him.
One day, he came out, and laid down beside me on the floor. I put my hand on his side, across a long scar the origins of which we do not know, and matched him breath for breath. There we laid, until he let me know he needed to go out, and I put on his leash without making him fearful for the first time.
That was the first step in what has been, and continues to be, a remarkable journey away from the track into a world he'd never experienced. He didn't know how to walk up or down stairs, or how to fetch a ball. He had no idea what it meant to be loved, or to receive—no less enjoy—affection.
The first time I touched him while he was lying at my feet, he jumped up like he'd been electrocuted. Now, he eagerly seeks out ALL THE CUDDLES! And he has even resigned himself to Matilda's relentless insistence on snuggling up beside him. She is an old lady cat now, and she wants to be snuggled up with someone bigger and warmer at all times. When Sophie was taking up my lap last night, Matilda decided Dudley would suffice.
Even Zelda, who is a massive snuggle-bug, doesn't tolerate this sort of nonsense.
I couldn't help but think about the terrified creature who arrived at our door, and who he has become.
I sent this picture to his foster dad, who is also the president of the rescue organization from which we adopted him, with a note saying that, against all odds, Dudley has become a confident and cuddly boy. He replied: "Greater odds than you can imagine. I've seen plenty that never get over their fears. He is one of the most gratifying rescues/placements I've been involved in. No matter how bad my day may have been, pictures of Dudley always turn me around. Thanks so much for helping him around that curve."
Making a space for Dudley to blossom has been one of the greatest joys of my life.
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April is National Greyhound Adoption Month! If you would like to adopt a greyhound or volunteer your time, you can find a rescue near you with this interactive map.
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As always, please feel welcome and encouraged to share pix of the fuzzy, feathered, or scaled members of your family in comments.