a taste of ‘It’s About the Dog’

from It’s About the Dog by Guilie Castillo Oriard

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Scroll below for snippets of It’s About the Dog


‘At worst, for as long as I’d been “rescuing” I’d actually been, recklessly and cluelessly, putting at risk the very lives I so wanted to save.’

— from ‘In the Beginning’


‘You’ll spend the next hour (or hours) in the sun, on hands and knees, running through brush, crossing busy intersections, in the effort to Catch This Dog.’

— from ‘Introduction’


‘Ferals have a very different attitude to humans than those who’ve had (good) families. They’re survivors, they’re strong and smart. Smart enough to know not to trust humans.’

— from Ch. 1, ‘Assessment’


‘If you’re going to start approaching strange dogs on the street, you’ll need to gain at least a grasp on the basics of Dogspeak.’

— from Ch. 2, ‘Body Language’


‘You know how they say ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions’? Well, the person who said it first was a dog rescuer.’

— from Ch. 3, ‘Botched’


‘If your friendliest, most patient attempts to approach the dog have failed, or if you’re dealing with an emergency situation, you’re going to have to do not just some sprinting but some fast, fast thinking.’

— from Ch. 4, ‘Catch Me If You Can’


‘Tranquilizers won’t turn this Cujo into Lassie. You’ll still have to deal with a mouthful of teeth—and an intensified motivation to use them—when s/he wakes up.’

— from Ch. 5, ‘Drugs’


‘We rescue because we have hope: that the dog can be healthy again, that s/he will find a good home, a good family. A happy ending. But sometimes the happiest ending possible is an end to the pain.’

— from Ch. 6, ‘Euthanasia’


‘It’s not just a reward; it’s also the reiteration of this covenant you’re in the process of making: I take care of you, you can trust me.’

— from Ch. 7, ‘Food!’


‘We have no way of knowing what these dogs have gone through. The things they had to learn in order to survive—the things that made them renegades.’

— from Ch. 8, ‘The Gratitude Myth’


‘No, strays aren’t weak or somehow defective; quite the contrary: they are the crème de la crème of natural selection. The strongest, the fittest, the most able to adapt.’

— from Ch. 9, ‘Health Issues’


‘Face it, cowboy: at your core, you’re a dog rescuer. And denying it will make you miserable. Your conscience won’t let up, you’ll never have peace, not until you do something.’

— from Ch. 10, ‘The Immensity of It All’


‘Here’s a newsflash: the color of a dog has nothing—I repeat, nothing—to do with a dog’s character. To believe that is akin to believing that the color of someone’s skin has an influence on whether they’re good or bad people. Yeah, exactly: it’s racism.’

— from Ch. 11, ‘Jinxed’


‘Towels. Truly the most useful of all possible aids. Towels have saved my rescuing ass so many different times, in so many different ways, that I couldn’t begin to list them all.’

— from Ch. 12, ‘The Dog Rescuer’s Kit’


‘Don’t misunderstand me; this isn’t about not caring, about hardening your heart in order to feel nothing. (You’ll be an epic failure at rescuing if you do that. Remember, dogs can read you like a carnival fortune teller.)’

— from Ch. 13, ‘Letting Go’


‘They grimaced but didn’t turn away when the needles went in, when the skin scrapings began. (Respect for steel-stomached newbies, y’all.)’

— from Ch. 14, ‘Medicating the Homeless’


‘Your challenge (should you choose to accept it) will be to get your dogs to perceive the new kid as a member of the pack—whether s/he’ll be staying forever or just for the night—and to do so as quickly as possible.’

— from Ch. 15, ‘New Kid in the Pack’


‘This can be as easy as talking to your friends about it (and asking them to talk to their friends), or designing flyers, or talking to a local magazine or newspaper about running a (free) ad featuring a weekly dog, or… Any other cool ideas?’

— from Ch. 16, ‘Other Options’


‘They don’t need to be experienced rescuers; they don’t even need to like dogs (but it helps, mostly for their sake). They just need to be there. Maybe hand you a leash, or play Bad Cop to your Good Cop in a chase.’

— from Ch. 17, ‘The Rescuer’s Pack’


‘In this currency-oriented world we live in, there’s a neuron somewhere that fires a message whenever we have to pay for something, saying, This here is worth it. Because you paid for it.’

— from Ch. 18, ‘Q & A on Rescue’


‘Every situation is different. Every rescuer is different. And every dog is different. All of which make it annoyingly difficult to find a fail-safe, cookie-cutter, A-B-C rescue formula.’

— from Ch. 19, ‘Right & Wrong’


‘Makes one think of moonscapes, cold and barren. Of merciless sun on endless dunes. Of desolation. Despair.


‘And yet, when it comes to dogs, sterilization is how we spell hope.’

— from Ch. 20, ‘Sterilization’


‘You can’t be nervous. You can’t be excited. You can’t be angry, or sad, or frustrated. Okay, let me rephrase: you can be any of these things, but you can’t let them control you.’

— from Ch. 21, ‘The Trust Quadrant’


‘Rescue, at its core, isn’t about a love of dogs. That might well be what brought you to it, but, once you’re in it, you’ll realize there’s a weird alchemy at work in your soul. Rescue, you see, is about compassion. And compassion is universal.’

— from Ch. 22, ‘Universality’


‘Try asking your ophthalmologist about your digestive problems. Try asking him about your dog’s digestive problems.’

— from Ch. 23, ‘Vets, Unsung Heroes’


‘Somewhere along the way you’ve come to understand that the pain you feel is the only love that dog likely ever knew, and so straighten your shoulders and dig for hidden reserves of strength to bear it with honor.’

— from Ch. 24, ‘Who Rescues Who?’


‘When stuff like this happens, you realize that your role in this whole thing is actually very, very small. Rescue truly is about being the right person at the right place at the right time.’

— from Ch. 25, ‘The X Factor’


‘Adult dog brains (just like adult human brains) are already wired to look for the pattern, to understand cause and effect, to analyze possible outcomes.’

— from Ch. 26, ‘Youth vs. Age’


‘Granted, we probably won’t get pissed at any of the ‘normal’ stuff, like you standing us up for a date, or posting an unflattering photo of us on Facebook; it’ll be over the fact that You bought a puppy WHERE???

— from Ch. 27, ‘Zealots’


‘We wanted her to understand we were prepared to wait, that we expected nothing, that she could come out of her shell when (and if) she felt comfortable doing so.’

— from ‘Sasha’s Story’