Saturday, June 9, 2007

Nature or Nurture

As Molly so frequently reminds me, it's not fair to compare Belle with Cody. She's right. They are two different dogs with two distinctly different personalities. Still, there are some differences that I wonder about.

Belle has always been a Very Happy Dog. Curious about everything around her. Convinced that the world exists to worship and adore her. She loves me to pieces, but hey, why pass up any chance to get to know another person or to leave my side to explore some fascinating thing only she can see. After seven weeks with Cody I've noticed he's happiest when he's within three feet of me. He will explore, but not with the passion of Belle - and if I call his name he instantly comes a-runnin' with ears a-flappin' and paws a-floppin' as only a puppy can run.

Belle's first seven weeks of life were full of good food, clean accommodations, a loving mother, many loving humans, and a stimulating environment filled with fun things for a puppy to experience and be curious about. An early life that was exactly like this post from Tiga's Litter.

Now contrast Belle's upbringing with Cody's first eight weeks, spent at the Apple Creek Kennels. Time the little guy spent in a dirty kennel with 11 sisters and brothers and a mother stressed from bearing so many litters with inadequate medical care. There were no loving humans to handle the pups. No toys to chew on or chase about. Parasite infestations that sapped what little energy the young pup had and led to a condition called the "puppy strangles" - a compromised immune system overwhelmed by so many bugs and malnutrition.

Comparing Belle's portrait at eight weeks of age with Cody's intake photo with RAGOM, also taken at eight weeks of age, even more clearly demonstrates the difference in their early lives. Where Belle is alert and curious and looking directly at the photographer, Cody is just trying not to be noticed.

xxxxxxxxxxx Belle xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Cody

I'll never know if Cody's hesitancy at meeting new humans and animals or his devotion to me is due to the harsh circumstances of his birth and first few weeks of life. What I do know is that I'm very grateful for the lessons that Belle has taught me. Lessons that I use every day to nurture and love and show this little puppy mill guy that which Belle has always known - we humans can be pretty wonderful, too.


Jenny said...

Lu, I've said it once and I'll say it over and over and over - you are just the best adopter for that little Cody guy. :)

Speak(er) said...

Jenny - Thank-you! Thank you, too, for what you and your mom and dad did for Cody in his first three weeks post-puppy mill. You were the first pretty wonderful humans he ever met.