At the beginning of April, we went to meet a dog we were considering adopting through a rescue group. My husband had his heart set on a husky, which naturally conjures the image of a thick-coated black, white, and grey sled dog with piercing blue eyes and a graceful stride. This dog turned out to be the complete opposite, and he completely stole our hearts.
Someone found Sid in a parking lot when he was about 5 months old. He was with another puppy, and both of them were extremely sick. Sid was diagnosed with parvo (a deadly contagious disease), pneumonia, worms, and a hernia, and it is a true miracle that he survived. Unfortunately, the other puppy did not.
We met Sid and his foster mom at a local dog park. Sid had been in foster care for 8 months at that point, which is a long time. We recognized his red coloring when he got out of the car and soon after that we saw the reasons for his delayed adoption.
Sid has some developmental issues both from birth and from his early struggle for survival. At a year old, he weighs only 30 lbs. He is underdeveloped, his feet seemingly too large for his slim gangly body. He may fill out more over the next year, but it’s not likely. His back legs are turned outward instead of forward, so he moves with an awkward gait, his back legs not always able to keep up with his front. He also has a substantial overbite. Eating is a slow process for him since food continually falls out of his mouth. His overbite also causes him to make frequent snorting noises and hang his tongue out more often than not.
Perhaps Sid’s physical anomalies are the reason he was abandoned. At the dog adoption events, standing next to a stereotypical husky, he didn’t stand a chance. Once we met him though, we fell in love with him and began the adoption process the same day.
Sid’s nuances contribute to his uniqueness. He doesn’t see them as negative. They are a way of life to him, and he accepts things as they are. He doesn’t compare himself to other dogs and wish he were something else. He is not worried about what he is not. He simply enjoys life and is happy to be alive.
We all think about the ways in which we don’t like ourselves, how we wish we were more like this person or that person. We focus on our faults, our weaknesses, the ways in which we think we don’t measure up, and we yearn to be different. We do not focus enough on how our differences make us unique, let alone celebrate those differences. We often see them as setbacks when we should be embracing them.
I am enamored with and intrigued by Sid’s individuality and character. I love when he licks my face and makes his infamous snorting noises that have earned him the endearing nickname of Piglet. I laugh when he talks to his toys, adds to his pinecone collection with treasures from the yard, and lazily snoozes on the couch twisted with his legs in the air.
He doesn’t let anything hold him back, adapting to any challenge he faces as part of who he is. When he’s running through the house and loses control of his back legs, rather than falling, he now sits down and slides across the floor until he comes to a stop. Haley (one of our other dogs) steals the food that falls out of Sid’s mouth and onto the floor, so Sid has learned to keep his face deep within his food bowl while eating so the food that falls out of his mouth lands safely back in his bowl. His back legs keep him from jumping onto the bed, but he knows that if he gets halfway up and then gazes over at me with his sweet golden eyes, I’ll boost him up the rest of the way.
We can all stand to take a page from the book of Sid and appreciate who we are, improve what we can, accept and adapt to what we can’t, and have fun playing and enjoying life in the process.
What we each offer and bring to the world around us is truly unique. Too often we focus on how we are not like other people and mourn the ways in which we are different. We should worry less about what we are not (or what we think we are not) and focus more on celebrating our individuality and all the things that make us who we are.
Sid loves life and is happy with who he is. There is no other dog like him, and there is nothing wrong with him. There is nothing wrong with any of us. We are fine just the way we are.