Try going off the ‘Deep’ end

I remember the first time bravely dog-paddling my way into the deep end of a pool. There was something about the ground disappearing from under my feet. That pool could have been as deep as the ocean for all the good it did me stretching my toes in a futile search for the bottom. And yet, despite all the uncertainty, the shallow end had suddenly lost its charm. I was in deep. There was no turning back.

That memory re-surfaced last week when I met a dog named Deep. A funny name for a dog, I thought at first. But then I heard her story. I could see it too, reflected in her eyes. Far more depth in those big baby browns than a 10-month-old puppy should possess. It seemed she’d earned her name.

Hounds are notorious for their pathetic facial expressions. They’re the perfect poster pooches for animal welfare – spoiled rotten on the inside, convincing life members of the lonely hearts club on the outside. They work cheap too. From beagles to bloodhounds, they’ll gladly strike the drama dog pose for as little as a kiss and a cookie…not necessarily in that order.

Deep is different. I’m guessing that’s because the ground disappeared from beneath her paws the moment she grew into them. There’s nothing shallow about Deep.

When I met her, it had been 20 days since Toronto Animal Services – South Region rescued her off the streets. This wasn’t the first time either. There was another time her owner had pulled the same stunt, i.e. tied her in front of a bar and forgotten about her as the hours rolled by. The only difference between that time and this time is she won’t be going back to see if it happens a third time. Her owner hasn’t bothered to claim her. In other words, Deep has been effectively abandoned.

It’s time we brought her to higher ground.

They say the formative years for humans begin at infancy. We can say the same for dogs. Puppies learn good social behaviour from their mothers, their siblings and, eventually, us.

So far, Deep has missed out on her education. You might say she’s been thrown into the deep end without a single swimming lesson. There’s so much she needs to learn to stay afloat. While other puppies were learning to water the grass instead of the carpet, Deep did whatever she had to do wherever she happened to be tied up. While those more fortunate were being taught when and where to use their voices, Deep was howling in desperation for any attention she could get from passersby.

She’s got our attention now. Her innocence draws us in. All she wants is someone willing to teach her what she’s missed. It’s come down to sink or swim for Deep and she wants to swim. There are sure to be rough waters ahead as she navigates her way to perfection, but she can get there if for no other reason but her incredible lightness of being. It’s why I chose to write about Deep.

It doesn’t matter that she’s never felt the sureness of solid ground under the pads of her paws. She’s still open to love even if she’s been closed off from it until now. Those eyes may be as deep as the ocean, filled with the pain of uncertainty, but that optimistic tail is convinced there’s smooth sailing ahead. And as she reaches over to plant a hopeful kiss on my face, I know exactly why the shallow end lost its charm.

Deep is a 10-month-old beagle/foxhound mix soaking up the attention of her rescuers at Toronto Animal Services-South Region, Horse Palace, Exhibition Place, 140 Princes Blvd., Toronto, ON M5R 2S9, 416-338-6668, www.city.toronto.on.ca/animal_services/centres.htm.
Visit YouTube and search: ‘Deep’ by Big On Beagles Rescue to see her video! I’m not going to win the Oscar for Best Director, but you’re sure to fall hook, line and sinker in love with Deep anyway!


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