As way of explanation: Our family adopted Ladybird, a boxer/mastiff mix from Circle L Ranch which is a rescue and sanctuary, on January 2, 2017. Our goal was ‘to do a good deed.’ It wasn’t as though we needed another dog, we had three. I had been looking at dogs from various Arizona rescue groups, the Yavapai Humane Shelter and asking friends to ‘keep an ear out’ for a dog who needed us.
Circle L posted a dog on their facebook page which sounded interesting so we went to look at her. She had a couple of adopters ahead of us, so our son, Bob, and I looked at the other dog which was living in one of the ‘old people’s home.’ Ladybird was 10-12 years old they thought, had been a stray picked up in San Luis, AZ, taken to the Yuma shelter and made her way up to Prescott Valley and the Circle L Ranch rescue via a very special lady, Dr. Deborah Wilson.
Dr. Wilson is the founder and benefactor of Circle L Ranch, and is an ardent animal advocate. She keeps her eyes open for dogs she can help from Yuma as it has a very small animal shelter.
Ladybird really had nothing going for her in the way of making anyone want to adopt her. She was quiet, gave off the feeling of being very tired. She surely was a dog who could use some love and attention. She was someone ‘who needed us.’
So it was that we decided to adopt Ladybird and as we were walking back to the car we saw some puppies cavorting in another pen. I asked what they were and was told they were Miniature Schnauzer/Brussels Griffon. Well, I had to look. One of my special dog loves was Little Miss Muffitt a Miniature Schnauzer that I wrote extensively about in my Dogs, Dogs and More Dogs book. Long story short, we ended up with Sir Winston and Ladybird.
We brought them home together. Ladybird had been a breeding dog as witnessed by her enlarged nipples. How, where and why wasn’t known. In fact nothing much was known about the sad looking elderly Ladybird. Her eyesight was diminished, but she was not blind. Of course one of the first things I wanted to do was talk to her via my animal communicator whom I have known for about 20 years.
You either are open minded about animal communication, or you aren’t, but I have seen too many things happen to ever doubt it. Mary said that Ladybird was smart and had a fighting spirit which had kept her alive. She said that this part would be hard to hear, but Ladybird’s puppies had been used for dog fighting. Ladybird said that they took away her fat wiggly puppies and she never saw them again. Of course, now tears are forming in my eyes.
Then she said she was dumped. She was so tired, she didn’t care. Dying wouldn’t be worse than she had experienced. She had shelter, it was a garage or a barn, it wasn’t terrible but it was not a house. She was just part of the business. When she was roaming, she said she was so thirsty and so tired. She was so glad to be picked up and rescued but she was not hopeful but she was not crushed. Her Mastiff breeding made her strong.
Mary said Ladybird had been born with a great deal of integrity; she was not bitter, cynical or mean. Her motto for each day was, ‘I will survive and it will be a good day.’ Furthermore, she is loyal, not crafty, is honest and courteous.
I told Mary that Ladybird had no idea of being led, and could she show her like she had helped me with a baby colt I had been trying to teach to lead. I bred horses, had many foals and NEVER had one like this little colt. That was my first experience with talking to Mary and my animals. She explained to the colt that a tug on the rope meant to follow. Next day when I tried it, he was nearly perfect!
Mary said she would tell Ladybird to talk to the equines in the barn to explain ‘leading.’ She said she imagined that many places Ladybird was made to go were not good. She was the picture of a dog being pulled to its death or some other awful experience. She is now better at leading. I use small tugs; a strong pull causes her to ‘shutdown.’
One of the reasons we adopted Ladybird was she seemed very mild tempered and could get along with Buttercup our 2 year old Doberman who is bossy, but not very smart. Ladybird called her a scrappy hooligan, and that fits! Finding other dogs for our household would be interesting because of her. One of the first encounters over a house gate was Buttercup acting full of herself and Ladybird calmly turning her head to the side. I mentioned this to Mary and she said it was a ‘calming gesture’ meant to deescalate any problem.
Mary also said that Ladybird said Buttercup is immature, but she can learn. She also knew that even though Buttercup acted like she was hot stuff, she ‘could deck her.’ Thus she really didn’t have anything to prove, and could turn her head. She had learned how to live and survive. She was an alpha dog with Zen qualities. I found this to be true as the days went on. She somehow did have a calming influence on the other dogs. Of Lady Blue, our Giant Schnauzer who is 12, she said, “You know nothing of the world; you are just old and crotchy.” That is pretty true. Our well loved pet dogs do know nothing of what the world can be like, and we are happy for that, but for the many like Ladybird, we must do what we can to help!
Of Sir Winston, Mary said she was impressed with him; he had no issues, he was a blank slate. He said he had no tragic tales to tell. He was a happy pup and ready for his life to unfold.
This is why so many of us love puppies, we can mold and teach them in our way of life. But please always remember the “Ones who need us.” And, you can do both!
Just a comment about Ladybird. I know she doesn’t seem to fit the description of alpha dog, but somehow she is. Maybe because she has had many puppies and taught them how to be dogs in a dog family, or because she knows her self-worth even though life had been hard, she exudes a quiet self reliant demeanor. Whatever, alpha or not, I think she is a very special dog to come into a new family and quietly and thankfully take her place. She is a wonderful pseudo mother to Sir Winston who has been the easiest puppy ever to add to the family, and a puppy that no one will ever take away from her!