I recently adopted Benjamin and he is loving his new life with his “sibs” Pete and Bella. Although I’ve adopted many pups over the years, I learned a new lesson this time. When I initially met Benjamin, my first thought was something like “Wow! Here’s a challenge!” I’m not sure if that was my exact thought because he was barking non-stop, so loudly that I couldn’t hear myself think. And he happens to have the kind of bark that sounds like someone is stepping on him with a stiletto. I did not take Benjamin home with me that day. But I couldn’t stop thinking about him. And what I thought about was this: he has good reasons for barking. After all, how do we humans get our needs met? We ask for what we need and at times, when we feel anxious or afraid or like we are not being heard, we might talk too much or even yell. But that’s not (hopefully) how we always behave, right? Because when we do get our needs met, when we feel safe and loved and “at home”, we relax. We can then be our best selves, our true selves, because all is well. And so it is with dogs.
I went back to get Benjamin; I took him home and he stopped barking. As it turns out, Benjamin is pure joy! He is sweet, silly, affectionate, playful and happy. His best self, his true self, was not apparent to me as a potential adopter because his behavior was (dare I say it?) obnoxious when I first met him. Thankfully I was able to look past that, to give him a chance. My new little boy has adjusted beautifully to his new home and family. That obnoxious behavior is totally gone because there’s nothing to yell about. Benjamin finally has everything he needs; he now feels safe and loved and at home. I am so happy that I listened, that I was able to hear what he was yelling about. I truly hope that anyone looking to adopt a pup finds a way to look past a “problem behavior” to see an awesome dog who is simply trying to get his needs met.