If you’ve visited Kolbeco (or been paying attention for the last ten years), you know that our organization is ruled by a very important group of beings we call our “Board of Dogrectors.” There are currently seven members of this governing board, as well as some we’ve lost over the years who have left an indelible mark on this firm. We work hard with them and teach them a lot, but more importantly, they’ve taught us some great lessons too. Allow me to introduce you to the dogrectors, and what I’ve learned from each of them.
Tux McCall: Tux is my dog. He was rescued by our friend Donna when his mother (who was pregnant at the time) was dumped in the country. We were with Donna when she got the call that a very pregnant dog had been dumped and would she please come get her! I hadn’t intended to adopt one of the pups when they were born, but you know how it goes – you don’t pick the dog, the dog picks you. And Tux picked me. He’s a big mama’s baby (all 75 pounds of him). His comfort zone is sitting on me, laying on me, and being with me all the time. He’s blissfully unaware of his size. But Tux has taught me that it’s best for him when I encourage him to venture out beyond his comfort zone (my lap). Experience new people, new environments, new dogs. Venturing out builds strength and character.
Scarlett O’Haira: Scarlett is Queen Bee here at Kolbeco, and belongs to Erin, our Art Director. Scarlett was the dog who started it all. When Erin accepted the job here, she only negotiated one thing – to be able to bring Scarlett to work each day. I asked “what kind of dog is Scarlett?” Erin replied “a nice dog.” I finally pulled out of her that Scarlett was a Pit Bull. She was afraid to tell me. I had never met a pittie before, but I grew up with Chow Chows, so I know all about certain breeds getting a bad rap. As it turns out, Scarlett is the BEST dog I’ve ever encountered. So I could talk about the lesson being about not stereotyping, but Scarlett has taught me something else too. She taught me that you can get onto the playground, socialize and have some fun – but when things start to go awry someone needs to step up and put out a call to order. That someone is always Scarlett.
Super Simon (AKA Bubba Timon): When Simon first came to Kolbeco, he was a withdrawn, emaciated shell of a dog. He was the product of a terrible abuse case where his owners tied him up outside and left him to starve to death. When Stray Rescue got him, he was in such bad shape that he flatlined on the operating table multiple times. Erin took him in and began the slow path to recovery. In the last 4-1/2 years, he’s transformed. He’s still shy and very nervous, but he’s not the same terrified soul he used to be. When he gets nervous, Erin tells him to find his bone (which is like a security blanket for him) and “walk it off.” He’ll then pace back and forth with his bone until he’s calmed down. Simon has taught me a lot about overcoming fear, and dealing with anxiety through simple, centering things. For him, it’s “walk it off.”
Grimm (AKA Grimmie): There’s just something about Grimmie that I can’t put into words, other than to say that he’s a big happy dog who loves everyone. Grimm also had a background of abuse, with a very strange and shady story that went along with it all, before he ended up living at Erin’s house. He was very young when he came to Kolbeco, and was one of those beings who was able to let go of past experiences and be in the present. Grimm is happy and he’s not afraid to show it. I know everyone talks about dogs smiling (and whether that’s really what they’re doing when we humans say they’re smiling), but I’m telling you – Grimmie smiles. He puts his front teeth together, closes his eyes, and SMILES. My lesson from Grimm is that no matter how crappy things might have been five minutes ago, let it go, smile, and maybe even let out a “Woo, Woo Woo” happy howl.
Lillybeth Skrivan: Lilly came from a breeding situation, and had lived a life of having babies over and over again until the breeders were finished with her and dropped her off at the Humane Society. Sad but true, folks, this is the life of many dogs kept for puppy mill breeding in our great State of Missouri. While many of these rescues tend to be feral or semi-feral, making them very withdrawn and distrustful of humans, Lilly is a loving, laid back, go-with-the-flow beagle who has a tendency to create calm in the dogs around her. Everyone – people and dogs alike (even dogs that don’t really like other dogs) – loves Lilly. Our friend Dan comes to Kolbeco just to visit Lilly and bring her presents. That’s how popular she is. She’s attracted this love and respect by being accepting, staying calm even in chaos, and letting others get to know her. And that’s what’s I’ve learned from Lilly.
Briscoe Orbach Celuch: Briscoe (who I call Nooglet – don’t ask me why), was a baby when I first met him. He and his brother Monte (who we’ll get to next) were rescued from a backyard breeding situation and were infested with bug bites and skin issues. They slept a lot in the beginning. I like to say that Nooglet was born an old man. He has that cranky “get off my lawn, you youngsters!” look on his face most of the time. But he loves to play and is pretty darned persistent when you’re the one he wants to play with. Which brings me to what I learned from Nooglet: don’t be afraid to ask for what you want, even if you have to ask repeatedly and in a somewhat different way each time. If you get a no, that’s OK. Don’t let it bother you. You’ve at least asked the question.
Monte Carlo: Monte was Erin’s foster dog, along with Nooglet, and came to work each day as she nursed them back to health and socialized them with the other dogs. Before long, Danieal, who was dog-less at the time, started thinking that Monte might be a good fit for her family. One weekend she took him home and the rest is history. Monte doesn’t come here every day, but we enjoy his regular visits (and he loves the opportunity to play with his brother). When he arrives, everyone is excited. Dogs want to play with him, people want to pet him (and he licks toes, too, which some enjoy more than others). But the lesson here is that even though we’re not with him every day, he’s still a member of the pack. So I’m reminded to always welcome friends, old and new, into my world regardless of how long it’s been since we’ve last talked.
That covers our current board, but if you’ll indulge me for a few moments longer, I’ve also learned some lessons from those we’ve lost:
Miles Silverberg: Beaten, abandoned, and rescued from the streets of East St. Louis, Miles was always aware of his surroundings and who was in them. His strength, and the lesson, was his ability to love deeply and unconditionally.
Kiener Celuch: Kiener was a big, meaty dog. Like Tux, he was completely unaware of his size and loved to be held. I learned from Kiener that no matter how big you are, or how tough you look, it’s OK to want someone to hold you when you need holding.
Cocopuff (AKA Coco Von Poofington III): Cocopuff was a puppymill rescue. When she came to my house, it took a week for her to come out of her crate on her own. But she also grew to be the alpha in my house, and she always stood up for herself even though she was truly afraid.
This blog has been a journey for me. To me, these stories are very personal and have made me think deeply about what I appreciate in each of them. These dogs, like us, are not perfect, but they are amazing beings and when you get to know them, you can learn more than you’d ever imagine possible. I invite you to reflect too. What can you learn from your pet? What can you learn from those around you? Slow down to appreciate what they’re telling you. You may just be reminded about what’s really important.