Our Greatest Teachers

9.24.13 Update:  Two weeks after having her leg amputated at the hip, Penny is doing marvelously and today had her staples removed.  You would never know by watching her that she was without a leg or had ever gone through any trauma.  She is amazing.  Loving, well behaved and just the best dog!  We should all be so amazing in our dealing with challenges.

I never cease to be amazed by the true resiliance of animals.  Even those that have been thru obvious trauma.  Those left to fend for themselves.  Those abandoned and discarded.  With each one that has faced huge struggles, I am awed by their ability to not just cope but to thrive.

Penny a current foster arrived at our shelter a few months ago with injuries that indicated having been hit by a car.  A fractured rear leg and pelvis were discovered by a trip to the vet.  And while surely she was in great pain, the wagging of her tail, her delight in the attention we bestowed on her and her willingness to tolerate everything that was required in the process of uncovering the extent of her injuries without hesitance or resistance said much about her heart.  Xrays said several breaks…but her heart was whole and strong!

She had surgery to attempt to repair her leg and as she rehabbed, her personality continued to blossom.  And even when despite her surgery her leg did not mend well, any physical discomfort or challenge was masked by the love she showered upon me and all she met.  Delighting in the space and freedom here at my home, she scampered about the yard, easily kept up with my dogs on our walks and their jaunts in the fields, and she settled into life here showing no scars of any past transgressions or those that may have transgressed against her.  She was a delight!101_9228

When weeks of hydrotherapy, thanks to my dear neighbor’s pool and a buoyant doggie life jacket that supported her swims, failed to produce progress in her use of her leg, it was discovered that she had nerve damage that would make proper use of the leg impossible.  Amputation was recommended.

I’ve had a few other fosters that lost a limb and adopted an older Lab mix years ago that came to me absent a front leg.  Each and every one demonstrated an amazing adjustment to their loss that I can only idolize and admire.  I seem unable to accommodate even minor discomforts with the grace and acceptance that these creatures seem to accept with ease.  I suppose it is in part their “live in the moment” attitudes that allow this to be so possible.  Not one has shown even the slightest inclination to wallow as I would in the memory of past capability.  Not one has given up the challenge of adjustment.  Not one has shown our human inclinations of self-pity.  And certainly Penny has been no exception.


Two days ago Penny lost her leg.  Yesterday she returned home, hopped out of my car before I could get positioned to help her and was off skipping across the yard to revisit her favorite spots and greet her friends as if she was returning from a long trip abroad.  Day 2 has been more of the same and even great exaltation at being home and among her pack.  If anything I’ve had to intervene to discourage doing too much, trying to play and getting too rowdy.  I felt often like I was reminding her that she had lost her leg and should be uncomfortable if not in some significant pain.  Her greatest discomfort seemingly the E-collar to discourage her messing with her incision…which she has totally ignored since arriving home.

As she lays curled in her bed napping after her dinner, just as the rest of my own pack does the same, I can’t help but look at the huge incision and long line of staples that cover the area where her leg used to be and wince in discomfort by the sight of it.  And yet somehow Penny seems to have no sense of loss but only of all that she has gained.  She seems more concerned about what she missed while away than what is missing.


I only wish to have such insight and appreciation when faced with challenges one day too.  I’m not banking on it because I’m human  but how silly of me if I forget the great teachers that have given me such tremendous examples to learn from.  Thank you Penny.

Categories: Volunteering

3 replies

  1. Very nice Carrie, you are so good with your words and feelings, we all should be able to learn from our animals.

  2. Indeed, animals have such a good nature.

  3. A heart of gold, yeah, Penny AND you.

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