Many of the dogs we have taken in over the years have been seniors, and they have lost life-long families. They grieve that loss just as we would if we suddenly lost our family and the home we had known for our entire lives. Most of them come to us frightened and on the verge of giving up on their lives.
But we discovered years ago how much comfort a large “family” of dogs can be to each other. Newcomers who try to isolate themselves are prodded and encouraged by the other dogs to join the activities in the yard. Most find it difficult to ignore 30+ dogs wandering around them playing, barking, and enjoying their lives.
Our long term residents have seen so many new dogs come through our door that they instinctively know what the next new dog needs. Several of our senior ladies make it their custom to curl up beside scared dogs, and often those frightened new babies can soon be seen wandering around the yard with one or two of our most loving dogs by their side. The “pack” soon becomes the new family, and they comfort these lost souls past their grief and into a new life.
Rick and I have compared this dynamic to a child attending a new school. How wonderful it is when they begin to make new friends. They lose the fear of being alone, and they gain the confidence of knowing they are now part of a loving family that is always going to be there for them. No matter what we are able to do for these little guys, they can do so much more for each other.
Our pack can teach a new dog everything they need to know to enjoy their new lives here at the sanctuary. They teach devotion, acceptance, discipline, and the security of belonging again. All these things can only be taught by the dogs, and we have been blessed to watch this dynamic in action over and over again. Rick and I can tend to the basics of survival, and we can certainly help them learn that their new “human” family will always love them. But it’s our dogs that teach them to accept joy back into their hearts, and for that we are eternally grateful!