I left the house Saturday morning for a quick trip to find carpet cleaning powder and while out decided to run into Michael’s. As I approached the craft store, there was a crowd of people outside, which could only mean that the pet shop next door was hosting an adoption event. I debated as I approached the store whether I would look at the dogs. My adorable dog doesn’t play well with other furbabies so I won’t be adopting a second pet with him, but sometimes it’s fun to look. As fate would have it, however, as I approached Michaels, the crate closest to their entrance had an adorable Shih Tzu dog in the corner.
Something about her drew me in and I found myself standing at her cage trying to coax her my way. She shared the wire pen on cold concrete with three other, much more outgoing and excitable dogs, one of whom I’m certain given enough time would find a way to leap out of the cage. Every time she headed my direction another dog cut her off at the pass sending her back to a corner alone and out of reach.
I asked the Humane Society worker about the dog. Her name was Kacie and she had been rescued from an animal hoarder who bred her. I took a picture of her and texted it to my mom and said “don’t you want her?” to which she surprisingly responded “yes, I do”.
One thing led to another and before I knew it I was buying a pink dog collar, leash and writing a check for Kacie and signing adoption papers in my mom’s name. I also got a new toy for Tuck, lest he feel neglected.
As one volunteer handed Kacie to me the woman working the Humane Society looked at me and said “she doesn’t know her name and she can’t walk with a leash. So she’s basically a blank slate of a dog.”
The gravity of that statement hit me as Kacie and I drove home and we began our 9 days together. Here was an adult dog who had already bore at least 1 litter of puppies. But when I called her by name she couldn’t hear me. Kacie meant nothing, just a little more noise around her.
But the more that I spent time with Kacie, I realized she was not a blank slate of a dog. Time and experience had marked her with many names.
Her proper name had been replaced with the ghosts and the marks of these names. She shook anytime I came near her and bucked a collar and leash like an unbroken mustang. She ate anything in site. Her eyes were desperate for love but also terrified to be hurt.
It broke my heart.
The second night with Kacie she slept in a crate lent by a friend. I thought this might help housebreak her more quickly. I fell asleep to the sound of her cries to get out. Desperate cries for freedom. I knew her captivity in the crate was for her good, not her harm. But Kacie, the abused, did not. It was a sign of more harm, not comfort.
When I awoke the next day I found Kacie, in anguish to get out, had made her self sick. As I walked her and bathed her she cried more for freedom. Jumping, scratching, clawing to get away. Desperate it seemed to run for the only freedom she knew, which was really captivity.
After the most difficult dog bath I’ve ever given, I wrapped Kacie in a towel and held her close. For a few minutes she rested. She stopped shaking in terror and fear. She was calm. I told her she has many names she should know.
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
As I petted a dog who’s been through more terror that I’ve ever known and spoke softly to her, I could hear the sweet whisper of my savior in my ear.
Perhaps the message for Kacie was really a message for me.
The names that the world gives are not the names I should recognize. Those voices of confusion and harm, are not the voices I should listen to. It is the quiet, calm one. Showing care for me even when it doesn’t make sense. Who holds me closely and tightly when all around me is confusing and new. Who whispers that I am
created on purpose.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.