Rescued Off the Scrap Heap
If you've ever gone to the dog pound and brought an abandoned dog home, you are familiar with that look of utter loyalty and appreciation the dog wears the first week of its new life. They seem to realize, viscerally, that they have been saved from a fate worse than death and they also appear to understand the concept of reciprocation. It is a wonderfully symmetrical initiation to a new relationship.
I happen to believe the same dynamics are in place for people. Obviously, human emotions are more complicated, complex and easily more contradictory. But the concept of appreciation often translates into love, and I think those emotions, simplified, are shared by dog and man alike.
Especially this man.
I've been pulled off the scrap heap a time or two. Both by a woman who managed to still find me, and what I had left, attractive enough to love, and by family members' intent on saving my ass from my occasional self-destructive impulses.
And yes, those efforts on their behalf can breed intense loyalty and appreciation. In fact, I have consistently gone on the paper in every recovery circumstance, so intense was my aim to please my rescuers.
Though that human to human relationship may begin with an unbalanced sense of commitment, with a seemingly dangerous premise of reliance on the one part, and caretaker on the other, I believe it can even up if that's the goal of those involved; the return to a level playing field. People subsist most healthily on a level playing field.
With a dog, there of course is never an "evening up", but there does not need to be. The adoration from a rescued hound can be requited to an extent that the dog-man relationship thrives.
This route is often a more attractive outlet, commitment-wise, for many older adults who have been through the relationship wars and have been left shattered. There is, of course, no such phenomenon as "unconditional love" between humans. It is simply psychologically impossible given the predilection for nuance that the human brain is equipped with. But a dog seems capable of just such an idealistic offering.
Some people, mostly women, claim cats are also able to love in this fashion, but no cat I have never known or owned, and there have been several great ones, ever came close to the degree of dependence that a dog craves with a human. Cats are, simply put, too smart for the most part, to subsist in a totally dependent relationship. It is often their one redeeming quality.
So, this begs the question for me: Am I currently in a period of rescue?
I think not. I have learned some fundamental, very important things about myself in this decade. And one of the most significant is that I can adapt and adjust and even thrive, anywhere. On my own, dependent on others, or any combination of the two. Every role I have played in my life, consciously or otherwise, has been for a reason.
And I have, knock on the written word, always come out the other end of the tunnel with an improved outlook, a rather healthy grin, and usually a renewed passion for my hungers and thirsts and interests in life.