I don’t think I react like most dogs when I see my reflection in the mirror. Today I looked into the glass on the wall above one of my favorite spots on the living room couch and looking back at me was an image of something spectacular. And silly. Yes, it was definitely spectacularly silly. There I was, my normal self, smiling the biggest smile of square white teeth I’ve ever seen. I looked just like one of those spokesdogs for Pedigree’s dental bones.
I stared and stared, infatuated with the vivid expression of joy staring back at me. So you can imagine my disdain when the next time I blinked it was just regular ole me staring back. The humongous smile was replaced by the reality of my somewhat stained (but still in pretty good shape) canines. My teeth are definitely not my favorite physical attribute, but my little mental mirage got me to thinking about what I do like about myself. My tail.
It got me to thinking about a dog I saw at the dog park last week. His name was Scotty and he was as happy as the rest of us, running and playing and rolling around in the mud. He was the embodiment of joy, making people at the park smile and dogs at the park wag. You would never have guessed how awful his life was in the past. You would never have guessed how he lost his leg. And part of his tail. I can’t speak for everyone, but I was shocked when I overheard the story of how Scotty the three-legged-dog met his forever parents.
He was at a shelter (like me) because one of the employees found him limping on the side of the road. The angel picked him up and took him to the humane society, pausing along the way to also pick up the bloody baseball bat a few miles down the road. The on-site vet quickly put together that the dog had been beaten, and the resulting injuries would cost him one of his hind legs. Based on the infection in his tail, the vet also deduced the dog was likely the victim of a poorly executed tail “trimming” by the owner with the baseball bat. The vet fixed him up as best he could and his forever mom adopted him a few months later.
His story made me simultaneously overcome with happiness and sadness. No one wanted him, the woman said, because of his missing leg. While I recognize the blessing that was his adoption, it breaks my heart to hear people making snap judgments like that. If anything everyone should have wanted him because his tail was so full of happiness that desperately needed to be shared. Instead he was cast aside and forgotten because he didn’t look quite right.
A bigger tail doesn’t make you a better dog. A missing limb or eye doesn’t either. And teeth that are not-quite-pearly-white anymore most definitely doesn’t. I’m glad I met Scotty and heard his story. It reminded me I don’t need the perfect white squares that are in those commercials to show how happy I am. I’m happy and I know it so I wag. And smile. And (best of all) my experiences in life have afforded me to share that happiness however I see fit.