We’ve had our adopted dog, Allie, for three years now. She’s a chow/collie mix with an enormous amount of fur–especially in the summer for some strange reason. The vet says her shedding cycle is just off; so, she’s a ball of fluff in the summer and more sleek in the winter. My husband and I have always loved her “look” and, unfortunately, I have been selfish about that when considering her comfort in the Mississippi heat. We have not cut her fur coat in the summer because she is such a pretty dog and we would lose that “unique” quality if we gave her a snip.
As everyone knows, this year has been particularly hot and it started so much earlier–we had days in the high 80s in March. It took a lot of convincing from my husband and our neighbors, but I finally gave in. On July 2, I took Allie to the groomer. I gave what I thought were clear instructions as to how she was to be trimmed. When I picked her up later that day, it took all I had not to cry as I realized my instructions must have fallen on deaf ears. Allie did not look at all like our beloved dog. She was no longer fluffy and she had colors and rings of fur around her neck that we didn’t even know were there. Everyone was amazed. My husband even told some of our friends that we had traded Allie in for another dog.
I didn’t handle it well and now I am ashamed of myself. Allie is still Allie. She greeted me at the groomer with her usual excitement. She’s wanted her three times daily walks and her treats just as always. She’s slept on the floor on my husband’s side of the bed just like before. She came into my office and laid at my feet while it thundered. She has wanted to visit her friend dog down the street everyday. And she talks to me all the time–if only I could comprehend what she is saying! She just looks so different! She is, however, so much more comfortable and cooler. How do I know? She’s spent hours on the front porch guarding me during the day rather than being stretched out on the cool ceramic tile floor in the kitchen and it’s been in the 100s. She didn’t hide in embarrassment as I have heard some dogs do after their grooming. She is a much more content dog.
Today, finally, the lesson surfaced (she teaches me so many things). We, as people, judge so much by the outside cover. We dislike people because of the way they look–their hair color, their weight, their tattoos, or the way they are dressed. We think our spouses no longer love us because we’ve gained a few pounds, have gray hair, or have no hair.
As parents, we don’t love our children less because of the way they look or because of the way they change as they grow older (or just change themselves for whatever reason). A change in appearance is not a change in the person–or the dog. They are the same people and same dog that we have always loved and who love us.
This week, I’ve been a “bad” mama because I have judged my poor little Allie because she didn’t look like my baby girl. I have accepted her new look and love her as much as always. I am so thankful that my husband, mother, brothers, nieces, nephews, and friends have not rejected me because of changes in my appearance over the years. I have learned my lesson–Allie is, after all, still the same dog.