Experiencing Our World When all you Have Known is Life in Something Like a Cage

I am writing this listening to one of my songs, ‘Present’. You may want to click and listen as you read, to get to where I am..

Imagine how you would feel if you had spent all your life inside, institutionalised in a confined, limited area. Just imagine it for a moment — you only live in a cage and occasionally get out to this noisy place, where people shout and cheer and gates bang up as you are expected to run out. You only experience humans when they bring food or take you out to this horrible place or train you for it. Most that you meet are hurrying you along or pushing you to do something you might not want to do.

And then you come out of this existence. You are faced with humans, who weren’t overly loving to you before. With bigger spaces, like a house or a garden. You hear all sorts of noises that you never heard before in your limited exposure. Big noisy metal things that move along the road, electric things that beep (texts), big metal things that fly in the sky and make a noise…It is terrifying. And depending on your personality that you were born with, you will respond differently — as we all respond differently to different environments.

If that were you, you would need time to absorb all of this, to experience different things and see whether they hurt you or not. I am now fostering Gabriella, a beautiful, sweet, unaggressive ex-racing greyhound girl, that has come from that place. And she is scared. A couple of people, including Echo’s mum have suggested playing some of my music to her, so am playing it as I mentioned above, to help her relax.

When she arrived here, she quickly hid herself in the corner of the kitchen, where I had put her bed. But she pushed behind it and lay on the floor, so as to be as much in the corner as possible. I have finally moved things, to get her bed there, so she can lie in that as her safe haven. You can see the fear in her face, bless her. I have wanted to cry a few times when I have sat next to her. She spent most of yesterday panting and hidden in that corner. I gave her space but also comforted her as I went past and sometimes sat gently and stroked her. She likes being rubbed behind the ears and I can see likes the stroking. It helps her. But I give it in bits and then leave her for space.

Gradually today, she has been coming to me more. She has been stressed and pacing, but coming for reassurance. Only stopped to lie down here once. Most of the time, back to her safe corner.

But she loves the garden. She almost seems more confident out there, sniffing around, enjoying some space. So once the weather is drier again, we will spend more time out there. I won’t walk her yet, as road noises are not familiar, but she is hearing them from the house.

I think she can’t yet trust humans or new ones will be intimidating. She is growing to trust me. And I will write more in this blog to let you know over time how things move on. It is something any owner of a rescue knows — as someone said to me once, “You helped her and she helped you.” Having a rescue is so rewarding, as it is two way. You not only get a pet that adores you for life (as a puppy would), but you give them something back that they might not have had before. And that requires you to work together. Not give up at the first hurdle, but love and support them through any challenges, just as you would a friend, your child or a family member. And that is so rewarding for you and they appreciate you for it. For now, I am trying to help the beautiful Gabriella get exposure to life outside. Somewhere that one day will be a wonderful place for her, in a loving home that cares for and loves her. Something she has never had in her life.

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