The other day, a friend of mine came over. My new dog has fear aggression and I’ve found that the best way to cure that is with meat. Before new people come inside my house, I hand them meat, usually chicken jerky or some other tasty treat. They walk inside and throw meat around the room until she is comfortable enough to eat out of their hand. Then she’s suddenly their new best friend. It is ridiculous to have people throw meat around your house as a welcome thing, but it totally works.
With the COVID-19 quarantine taking up all of last year and beyond, this was only the third time he had met my dog. The first two times, he had to throw meat. This time, she barked once and then recognized him, wagged her tail, and started licking his hand. Progress!
He felt honored that he was among the trusted. Anyway, as we were talking about this, I said that I’ve moved from broken men to broken dogs. I said it as a joke, but then when I started thinking about it, it’s absolutely true.
As much as I loved him, Male was a broken man. We both had PTSD, though it took different forms. I have reactive symptoms like hyper-awareness, difficulty relaxing and sleeping, and I’m easily startled like a fainting goat. He had cognitive symptoms, including difficulty trusting people and finding it hard to feel happy.
He was prone to addiction, depression, and probably had other undiagnosed mental health issues. In short, a hot mess. But, he was also incredibly intelligent, a talented writer, terribly generous and caring to those few he did trust, and one of the funniest people I have ever known. I loved him like crazy.
After he died and my dog died, I ended up adopting a broken dog who has difficulty trusting people. She is ridiculously sweet to the few people she loves, but big and intimidating to strangers… just like Male.
Now, I’m certainly not saying things happen for a reason or you get what you put out there or my current dog is some otherworldly stand-in for Male or what have you, because I don’t believe any of that anyway. Hokum, tomfoolery, pish posh. You’re welcome to believe that, because far be it from me to tell anyone what they should or should not believe, but I don’t at all, so let’s end that fork of a topic right here.
All it means to me, all I’m saying is that I have a type and that type is broken. Perhaps it’s because I am also broken. Those are my people. I feel comfortable around the broken, bruised, battered, and scarred. Even if their experiences are different from mine, I can relate. I know what it’s like to try to crawl out of that hole.
My dog is broken. With a lot of work, she is less broken than when I found her, but her brokenness makes me love her all the more. He flaws make her beautiful and worthy of love as much as any perfect breeder dog with papers. She and I will continue to walk our broken path with our broken ways together for as long as we can and help each other get slightly less broken every day.