Lessons from a Troubled Canine

Some of you you may have known our black terrier mix that we had named Tera(byte). She contracted Parvo when she was a pup and barely made it through her first few months of life. Because of this virus she was what I would call an “unbalanced” dog. She would be a normal loving dog one second and then turn suddenly to bite any thing or person near her the next. This created many problems, as you might think, and we had to euthanize her not too long ago. This was mostly out of fear she would hurt herself or someone else as her bipolar behavior had gradually gotten worse over recent months. We believe that she was bipolar due to the Parvo which is also a concern  for human children that are around this virus. Anyway, I would like to list a set of lessons we should learn from the four years Tera was a part of our family.

Lessons we should learn from Tera:

We all need boundaries

Tera had issues with being tied to a post with a lead when she was young. She would get off it several times a week by shear will and determination. Once we nearly lost her and went to an invisible fence configuration. This solution worked as it was a barrier that she knew she could not cross and was ok with that. She loved the space and unrestrained feeling a backyard gave her.

As humans we tend to tie ourselves up to a post instead of just putting up barriers to places we know we can’t go because of the negative effects they bring. This keeps us from enjoying the freedom we do have to play in the backyard of life.

Its easy to be distracted in life

Tera was always easily distracted by her obsession with chasing lights and shadows. She loved to chase: reflections of sunlight off of doors and devices, shadows that are created off of us at night by a light post, and laser light at anytime (favorite). She would easily get distracted even when it was not good for her.

We tend to do the same. We have our obsessions or things that keep us from doing what we are here to do. What is it that you are called to do? What things distract you from doing them?

A man has to know his limitations

Tera had limits which were physical, environmental, and emotional and they limited how she could interact. If you went beyond them you got bit or nipped which I know all too well (bit three times). You did not interact with her if she was tired, sleepy, surprised, upset, or agitated about something.

Do we know our limitations and the limits of others? Can we interact within the limits we know we have or do we consistently go beyond these limits and then wonder why we fail?

Love does not cure all of what ails this world

Tera was showered with love and affection as we nursed her through the Parvo in puppyhood. She survived it and we continued to love and comfort her as much she allowed, but she showed no improvement and her behavior actually got worse as time went by.

Our world tells us that love can conquer all but is that really the case? We continue to love but there is a possibility that the person, dog, behavior, or thing will never change.

Sometimes not matter what you do, it is not good enough

Tera got the full treatment of “dog whisperer” training. We walked, worked with a lead, did the “ssshhtt” thing, and even tried to think like a dog. I don’t think she got it, do we?

We keep trying some new or different thing and expecting change. Is it possible that this messed up world will never really change?

Some things are not fair no matter how you shake it

Ultimately after all is said and done it was not her fault. She did what dogs like Tera do, nothing more. She made mistakes and then understood and tried to make up for them. We learned that compassion, reconciliation, and grace are important in life. No matter what happened I know Tera reconciled with us and gave us grace.

Do we give grace when someone does us wrong? Do we remember how we have messed up and hurt others or is that our problem?

Doing what is right is hard

I hate to tell you this, and it may seem silly to you, but this pup will always have a special place in our hearts and minds. Saying goodbye to the troubled canine was very hard to do!


A husband, father, xav8r, Jesus follower from Detroit who works in IT, enjoys hockey, college football, and a cigar. Currently geographical status is a northerner exiled to the south!

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Posted in Family, Tera
4 comments on “Lessons from a Troubled Canine
  1. Mary Neely says:

    Bob, isn’t it amazing the lessons we learn from animals? Think this is a great piece and should be shared with more than just your FB friends. Wish you would send it to one of the mags to see if they would publish.

  2. eddodds says:

    I’m so sorry you were only able to have four years.

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