Two weeks ago tomorrow, Lanie arrived.
Lanie is our foster setter. We’ve come to love English Setters, and when we were faced with the statistic that ACES (Another Chance English Setters) had 50 calls for setters to be rescued and only five foster homes, we decided that we could help.
So we applied – and were approved – to be a certified foster home for ACES. Then, we waited.
Having had two setters, and knowing at least five others, we feel pretty in tune with the breed. Highly energetic. Extremely loving. Kind to people and to other animals. Plays hard all day, then curls up on the sofa with you at night. “The dog that hunted beside grandpa and was spoiled by grandma.”
We were ready for another setter to come in and, boisterously, upset the calm of our one dog/one cat household.
I’m now sure we weren’t ready for Lanie, because we weren’t ready for a dog that trembled.
She came into our home with no concept of what it means to be loved by humans. How do I know this?
Because no dog we’ve ever had in our home was afraid of our hands. No dog with whom we’ve welcomed in loved its crate more than a bed by the fireplace. No dog we’ve ever had the pleasure to live with preferred to eat its food one bite at a time, venturing outside the crate only to get a bite and then chew and swallow it back inside.
No dog we’ve ever opened our home to felt like a 10-foot buffer was preferable to time on one of our laps. No dog who visited for even one night at Camp Henry ever made its pass-after-pass around our made-for-dogs backyard with its tail tucked between its legs.
But Lanie did all these things, and more. And still, from the first moment we met her, we could sense that there was a setter inside there somewhere. Buried deep behind a life of well-deserved human mistrust, there was a setter waiting to be what she was meant to be – “the dog that hunted beside grandpa and was spoiled by grandma.’
Today, that dog arrived. With just a few simple modifications of our set-up, Lanie burst from her shell and showed that even a setter filled with a history of things you don’t know is, at its core, a setter. She runs. She runs and and spots birds. Then she runs some more. And when you think she has run all she can run, she runs more.
Lanie looked across the family room today from inside her wide open crate, saw the back door of our house opened even wider and decided, at least for a day, that whatever was in her past was passed. She chose to live today wide open, because today was worth living with gusto. And there was no reason to wait.
She threw back her ears, and bolted for an outside full of birds and breezes. She came back in, and went back out. Again and again.
And today (perhaps for the first time ever), the world was not a place to fear, but a place to flourish.
(Raul Julia as Franco in “The Gumball Rally”)
What is behind you is not important, Lanie. What is in front of you is life.