Rescue Journal

Another first for Tucker.

 ·  Aug. 12, 2008

Tucker hit the beach for the first time today. It's amazingly moving to watch an old dog do things that he's never had a chance to do before. He loved the sand, he had a blast just digging holes, like every dog on the planet should have the opportunity to do.

Tuck is 15 years old, but one would be hard pressed to believe it while watching him do his mountain goat routine on the steep hill at Hayward Lake. He looked so very pleased with himself, and although he still needs to come back to his humans for reassurance frequently, he looked for all the world like any dog just hanging with his family at the lake.

I wonder, when Tucker is sniffing flowers and eating gross stuff, when he's walking the dikes or catching rays on the deck, when he's racing the lawn mower or chewing on a ginormous bone; whether he thinks he might only be unchained from his doghouse and free from his pen for a little while, so he'd better get as much living done as possible. He certainly has not forgotten being lonely and sad......I don't think he'll ever forget his miserable existence prior to S.A.I.N.T.S., but can he worry about going back to that?

I hope not. I really, really hope not.



I'm not at all sure that dogs separate past and present on an emotional level. My Kirby is a prime example of a dog who is fully capable of unbridled joy under the right circumstances, but who can't completely let down his guard in a whole host of situations. It can be subtle, Kirby is basically having a great time, but there is wariness, a slight shiver, and sometimes he just becomes superglued to my leg, which is anything but subtle. We have never, ever, knowingly put Kirby in positions that might stress him and I know that he knows he is safe with Chris, Angelina and me, but he is still a fearful dog.

Maddie, too, remembers past events, and they totally affect her in the here and now. Put a 10, 11, 12 year old boy in front of my placid, sweet-natured Eeyore dog and she becomes Cujo.

Of course none of this proves or disproves my own original question about whether rescued dogs worry about going back to their former lives. What about dogs waiting to be redeemed or adopted in shelters? It is my belief that dogs never forget their families, good, bad or indifferent, but at what point do they stop pining or worrying, given their situations, or do they ever stop keeping an eye out for their former loved ones, or their former abusers?

Tucker does enjoy his days, and he does know he is loved, protected, respected and safe. He will not be betrayed, and we'll give him as many opportunities to experience all kinds of things most dogs take for granted as we can. He seems very happy and content, so I guess that's going to have to be enough.....knowing for certain whether he worries about going back won't change anything anyway. He goes back over my dead body.


i believe dogs do live in the here and does not mean they are unable or incapable of remembering yesterday, it means they choose not to waste today's enjoyment because of the lack of yesterday.
dogs have long and short term memories like everyone else does or else how could they learn? how could they remember a friend from the past?
they just don't use them to make themselves sad.
tucker is enjoying today, that chain, that pen, that dog house has ceased to exist for him, now it is all about other things, things that are more exciting and fun.

dogs are amazing.


I believe, like you obviously do, that dogs do indeed remember "miserable existences". They don't *just* live in the moment of here and now.

Having said that, it follows that they are intuitively aware of what exact circumstances they are in.

Your boy Tucker *knows* that love/empathy/care surrounds and envelops him, now.

He knows it.