A Man’s Best Friend
It’s the middle of the night and I am sleeping when I realize there is an animal with four small determined paws, not just standing on top of me, but walking back and forth across my back, turning this way and that, looking to make himself comfortable.
It’s Rascal. The safety we experience with each other is something we both treasure. Safety was not always a given. As of May 27, 2023, Rascal is a three-year-old mixed-breed dog who weighs in at a staggering 20 pounds. I adopted him more than a year ago. He was a few months shy of his second birthday when we joined lives. Rascal arrived in my life with two distinct sides to his character.
First, he came loaded smarts, a sense of humor, and a penchant for physical comedy as evidenced by a back-flip (of sorts) off the chair onto the rug, followed by a vigorous shake of his entire body. So vigorous and comprehensive it’s a wonder his inner organs didn’t switch places just because they could.
Second, Rascal came with a no nonsense, no bluffing, fear-based, aggressive streak. He’d bitten people in two adoption attempts. When I learned some of his history, his fear-based aggression made all the sense in the world.
Rascal spent the first year and a half of his life – from the day he was born – with other homeless dogs on the streets of the Dominican Republic.
His fear and distrust of people made sense. In 2021, Rascal (his name was Cody at the time) was sent to the United States in the hopes of finding them homes.
Rascal has found his home. He is a friend of mine. Yes, he bit me four times in our first months together. But, on each occasion, I could see the fear that drove him in the moment.
He is now, formally, an emotional support animal for me. I tend to think I fall into the same category in his world. He knows he is safe with me. Watching him sleeping peacefully, curled on a chair, spread-eagled on the floor, brings me immense joy.
There is little I love and treasure more than witnessing a living being feeling safe.