Mavi is the topic of my post today. You might be wondering how he got to be the topic of a blog on music therapy, but trust me. There’s much I have learned from him about how I view people.
Mavi is a three-year-old rat terrier mix that my husband and I adopted about a month ago. He was found roaming the streets back in August and was taken in by a local shelter. At first he showed a bit of aggression toward humans. Nipping and growling when they’d come near to pet him or touch him. They put him on antidepressants to ease his anxiety and began rigorous training with him. He’s suspected to have a history of abuse because of the ways he responds in certain situations, although there’s no real way to tell. When we first decided to meet Mavi we were warned that he is slow to warm up, may nip, bite or growl but that once in the “club” he’s the warmest dog there is.
When we first took Mavi in he didn’t want much to do with us. He was so anxious he had kennel cough for the first week, he slept much of the time and he didn’t want much of us petting him.
To be honest it was quite discouraging.
I felt bad for wanting him to be a certain kind of dog. For wanting him to be pet and loved by us. For wanting him to be excited when we came home. It was also hard that we had to spend all of this time developing a relationship with him. At times I wondered if we’d always be walking on eggshells.
We have grown immensely in our relationship with Mavi. He’s nestled behind my legs right now as I write this. He cuddles me daily, hugs me, kisses me and loves sleeping under blankets with us. But Mavi has his limitations still.
A few weeks back he bit my husband on the hand for touching his foot while it hurt from the salt put down on our streets in the snow. At first I was very upset, again wondering when Mavi would trust us completely. A few days later he growled at me as I tried to tuck him into some blankets. (Mavi does have a cute way of putting himself into timeout when he knows he’s wronged someone!)
At times I’ve felt completely frustrated and I’ve wanted him to “be like the other dogs”. But I read something last week that resonated with me.
It’s ok to know your dog’s limitations and to work within them.
It’s made me ponder how I want other people to live in my limitations (and Mavi, too). Who says what normal is? What healthy is? Sure we can make a general guess of it, but my list is likely to be different than yours.
It’s ok to know that one child needs different care than another, or one person needs different attention than another. We’re all unique and different and have our own baggage and history.
It’s amazing what animals can teach us about how we view the world. And how we often think we’re the only ones living in it!
I can’t wait to see the ways Mavi grows with us over the years and the ways he learns to trust because we took the time to understand him and love him.