It’s no secret that I’m a crazy pet mom. Rory Rue, my long-haired miniature Dachshund, has been my partner since this whole Kansas City adventure started. We were both going through major life changes. I was discovering the “New Kelly” that was developing in the wake of a long, painful breakup. She was learning to be a confident, happy dog (thanks to the hard work of her fosters) after a not-so-ideal situation with a former owner. We were both learning and growing, and figuring out how to do this whole “city life” thing on our own.
We’ve since welcome the ginger kitten, Ferocious Fred, into our family (all the way from Wisconsin, thanks to my friend Carrie). While Fred (pronounced Fwed) is the embodiment of snuggly, cuddly, adorable kitten-ness right now, I have to say that Rory has had a lot more profound life lessons to offer at this point. No offense, Fred. You’ll have your day.
Second chances. Rory is a success story. She came out of a not-so-good situation and with kindness and encouragement from her fosters, she turned into an amazing, loving, loyal dog. She hasn’t let her bad experiences ruin humanity for her. She’s both given the world AND herself a second chance.
Forgiveness. We are a family. And like any family, we have had our rough patches. Whether she was upset with me for leaving her with my parents overnight (which led to her spite-dooing on the living room rug, despite plenty of time outside) or she was offended by my reaction to her use of the litter box as a buffet…she always forgives me. I’m human, and she loves me despite it. I’m imperfect, and she’s willing to forgive it.
Trust. Giving up control of our own fate is tough; whether it’s trusting your friends and family, a significant other, or God, it’s hard to relinquish control sometimes. The 100% trust my dog places in me makes me feel like I can afford to trust, even when I feel like I’ve been burned several times in the past.
Loyalty, without drawing lines. Rory is loyal to me, almost mind-bogglingly so. Just because she’s loyal to me, though, does not mean she holds grudges against those I dislike. She will love anyone, unless they’ve given her a reason not to.
Acceptance of all. Rory’s two best friends are a cat and a pit bull. She doesn’t care if stereotypes dictate that a pretty little lap dog like her should not adore a 70-pound pit bull named Stella. She doesn’t care that cats and dogs are supposed to hate each other. She sees two creatures who love to play and snuggle as much as she does. What they have in common matters more than what they have different, like species and breed stereotypes.
Bravery. Dachshunds as a breed are supposed to be “fearless.” They were developed to hunt badgers, and you have to be pretty devoted to that cause to dive into a burrow and fight an animal that will most likely destroy you. Rory isn’t fearless; I’ve seen her nervous or uneasy many times before, partially because of her past. Yet, she’s so great at seizing the moment despite her fear.
Simplicity. Rory doesn’t need a lot to be happy. Companionship, basic physical needs, affirmation. She’s at her happiest snuggled up with someone. Walks, fresh air, and a kind touch — these are the greatest joys to an easily-contented dog with a kind soul. In fact, Rory’s ability to be happy doing almost anything is awe-inspiring. When I think “pure happiness” I think of her running through the grass with her ears flapping in the wind. With this, comes an undeniable sense of humor, too. This dog knows how to laugh, especially when those around her need it most.
I think we, as humans, have a lot of lessons we can learn about being good people, from those who aren’t even people at all. As over-the-top as it may sound, my dog makes me want to be a better person. She encapsulates so much of what is good in the world. Her unwavering admiration makes me want to be the kind of person who deserves that sort of love. I want to be the kind of person my dog is.