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Learning acceptance from a poodle

Lacy came home from having surgery to remove a cyst at the base of her spine above her tail.

The veterinarian said she would have to wear an E-collar to prevent her from licking the stitches. Ron and I have nicknames for the E-collar: cone of shame, lampshade and megaphone. The last time our standard poodle had to wear one was after being spayed a few years back.

We recalled how she stood in the kitchen with her head hung down, looking just like Eeyore. She wouldn't move. She would just stand there, hangdog, looking down at the floor, so forlorn. During the day when we were home, we would take the cone of shame off of her, and have her sit by our side so we could make sure she left her stitches alone.

She had not been socialized before we brought her home at six weeks and she's had very little close contact with humans. She lived out in the breeder's barn, to sleep in sawdust with the other dogs. We don't think she had ever been in a house before she was a member of our family.

She was very shy and afraid of people. It has taken her quite a while to learn to trust people. When guests would come over, she would hide and cower. Now she greets everyone who enters our home. On walks, she loves to see other dogs and wants to run and play with every dog she meets.

I have learned a lesson about trust from Lacy. That first night when we brought her home from having the cyst removed, I was coaxing her to lay on her bed, knowing that I had better get her in a comfortable position before fastening the cone around her neck. I knew that she wouldn't move after it was on, so I wanted her to be comfortable.

She didn't understand why she had to wear the cone ... she cried as she laid there. I told her it was for her own good, that it was going to be OK, that the cone would help her with healing.

As I clicked her collar to secure the cone, I had a realization. How many times in my life had I felt that God had denied me what I wanted? Not knowing, as Lacy, that it was for my highest good. When circumstances in life are like wearing that cone, how often have I trusted that God was taking care of me so I could heal?

Lacy has been wearing the cone to bed now for over a week. She doesn't cry out much at night anymore, she knows that she doesn't have a choice. And when we get up in the morning to take it off of her, she feels the excitement of freedom. She doesn't resent us or pout or get angry at us for the indignity of it all. She just says thanks with a wag of her tail and a nuzzle with her nose.

— Judy Wallace lives in Medford.