This morning I dropped Scout off at Day Care. I stopped to watch her run and play with the other dogs before leaving. I love to hear the Day Care people praise her. They talk about how social she is, her cute ears, her little howls, how she loved to be petted. I want to get her a t-shirt that says, "Plays well with others," because she does.
I remember back when a dog behaviorist told us that Scout Would Never Be Able to Go To Day Care. Not that we would have been able to afford it, then. We just knew she was a highly energetic dog, and wondered about different outlets for her energy. Day Care would be out of the question, this person said. That was Final.
Some people who know Scout well, know also that she is, in some ways, a Deeply Flawed Dog. She was diagnosed, at 10 or 11 weeks, as "Possessive." That means that she got snarly when she wanted something. Scout was never possessive about her toys. No, it was plastic bags, or paper towels, or socks, or soap (she still likes soap). All things she wanted, but that we didn't want her to have. She would fight us for that.
Lest you think this is kind of funny, she even bit me once, drawing blood. She wanted to eat a plastic bag; I didn't want her to. I won, but at great cost. After that, we really got serious about handling her possessiveness.
Now she hasn't had an incident for over a year. I know that she's still possesssive. She, and we, just handle it differently. She's gotten less anxious about "stuff"; so have we. We've learned that this is one of the keys to handling her behavior.
I think about being possessive a lot, though. A dog who is possessive is considered Deeply Flawed. She is supposed to cheerfully give up everything she owns to her Leader, in trust and submission. Humans, on the other hand, are a possessive breed. It seems normal to grab and to accumulate, and to fight over our possessions, as well.
On this, the first Wednesday in Advent, I've been thinking a lot about Scout, and about being possessive. She has taught me a lot about what it means to live in gratitude, and to trust, to make room for the next good thing that may come my way. She has taught me about how Deeply Flawed I am, and how grateful still that she loves me.
She has taught me as well that even those who are Deeply Flawed deserve to be loved.