Thursday, January 13, 2011

Gentle Soul

Erin befriending baby bird

I'm unable to recall a single moment in Erin's many years where she displayed any hostility or performed an act of aggression towards any living creature. Fellow dogs, cats, and humans were all treated with respect even though some circumstances definitely dictated Erin raise her hackles and bare the ivory white fangs but proudly she showed restraint and let me defend her. Snapped at by numerous dogs for no obvious reason and not once was there retaliation but instead she turned the other cheek and looked up to me in shock. In her stead, it was me that felt wounded by Erin's yelping from the nip and quickly I'd lead her away while the accosting pet's owner would be apologizing to my back. It's understood that many dogs won't tolerate others invading their space and there are consequences but it always pissed me off nonetheless as she was just displaying her friendly demeanor.

The carousel of foster puppies that rotated through our home tested Erin's patience but she never lost her temper. Composure and a wide grin were maintained despite having little fur balls crawling upon her head, chewing her paws, and stealing her preferred toys. The only hint of agitation came when an uneducated pup strolled up to Erin while she was snacking on a favorite treat or her head was buried in the food bowl thus the result was a display of exposed teeth meant to intimidate the youngsters and the desired result was achieved. This brief flash of teeth scared them enough to not tempt fate while learning a valuable life lesson. There is no doubt she would never attack another soul as it's not in her dna but was merely displaying an act of dominance posturing.

The trait of tolerance would serve Erin well in her role as a therapy dog. Occasionally, groups of adults and children who were eager and over enthusiastic to greet a dog put my angel in a stressful situation and that was never a good thing. Too many folks crowding into a confined space to befriend a dog can lead to a volatile situation and that even happens when a well trained therapy dog is involved. Obsessive attention, physical contact that is deemed heavy-handed, multiple strangers invading the dogs safe zone and when a dog loses sight of its handler can lead to an unwanted outcome. At one time or another these all happened to Erin and immediately she looked to me for reassurance as she tensed up at the overwhelming scene ripe for aggressiveness. I've often thought a lesser creature would have snapped and bitten someone thrusting a hand in its face or yanking its ears but she maintained control of her emotions throughout it all thus making me very proud.

Erin was always the even-keeled calm force in our family while her ability to forgive those who wronged her was commendable and admirable. Unable to be provoked or baited into action by bullying dogs who desired her attention or possessions, it was me who defended her as she avoided confrontation like the plague. As strangers knocked upon the door, she would emit a warning growl to make others aware of the menace inside but never was there any action taken outside of the audible noise. Erin was forged out of love, affection, and compassion from the day she entered my life while exhibiting the best qualities of man's best friend til the very end. She was a gentle sweet lady with a heart of gold and will be missed by many. RIP Erin!!

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