His was a sensitivity we never knew could exist within the mind of another...
Mercury was one of our very first rescues. The day we picked him up we had no idea what we were getting into. This shaggy broken dog, hiding under his owners bed, so desperate to be invisible, was almost overlooked in favor of the other dogs desperately in need of care. But there was something about Mercury that we just couldn't turn away from. Right from the start he revealed another world to us, a world that existed through sensitive eyes where even the most mundane sounds invoked terror in his mind.
In those early years of his rehabilitation we thought it best for him to get over his fear by taking walks with us around town and experience the sights and sounds of a busy city, all the while growing through the trauma of what he could not understand. While this idea could be considered text book for rehabilitating a shy dog, it did not have a positive effect with Mercury and after a few more tries we could see that the effort of exposure was doing far more damage to his mental state than doing nothing at all.
His was a sensitivity we never knew could exist within the mind of another. As we watched and learned from Mercury's behavior we began to form new ideas in our minds, new approaches to life and how to cater to misunderstood shy dogs everywhere.
We didn't realize at the time that by helping Mercury find peace in his new life that he was doing the same for us. He had opened our eyes not only to other shy dogs and their needs but encouraging us to be still, to listen and to observe what was going on within each individual dog before moving on with a solution.
As Mercury continued to shy away from strangers, loud noises and city life we began to realize that his strength lay not in what he was afraid of but what he was drawn to. The quiet of the forest always kept him at ease. During our walks he would look back at us with excitement and invite us into his quiet special world.
There was no break in the stillness of the forest, no loud noises, strange people or fast cars just endless acres of tall trees, wild smells and peace. This was the place Mercury was drawn to, a place he considered home, and as we stepped deeper into his world we grabbed hold of his invitation and ran the forests together.
Mercury eventually tried his paws at mushing but was more content in enjoying the trail rather than pulling. He was never considered a reliable sled dog for the team. Since he was so loyal to us we had no trouble letting him run loose behind and that is where he stayed for many, many years.
As he grew older, and the team ran faster, he slipped into his retirement early and enjoyed all the benefits of being on the couch when ever he wanted and acting as the official dishwasher after every meal.
Mercury always loved his outside time and for many years he was the official 'roamer' on the Sanctuary grounds. He could always be found close by the dog yard or paying a visit to us up at the yurt when we were working on winter and summer chores. It was a delight to give Mercury this ultimate freedom but heartbreaking for us when his mind started to slip and we had to prepare a fenced area just for him so his body would not wander along with his mind.
Over the months that followed his condition continued to worsen. Every day he did his best to eat the tasty meals we prepared that were loaded with fat and protein so he could keep his weight up, but as he struggled to stand we knew a decision had to be made.
With the help of our local vet Mercury left us peacefully at home with the friends he had grown to trust and love in July (2015) at the great old age of 17. It is still heartbreaking for us to know he is gone after so many years in our care and developing such a beautiful friendship with this amazing gentle soul. He will forever be missed...
Mercury was featured in Jane Sobel Klonsky's Project Unconditional. To read more about this wonderful senior dog project visit her website at: www.ProjectUnconditional.com.