When my son first laid eyes on Merlin, he laughed out loud. I chastised him. He said, “Sorry, Mom, but he really walks funny!” “I know,” I said, “but you would too if both your hips and pelvic bones were crushed and you were never given any medical treatment!” He quit laughing as Merlin placed his head gently in T.J.’s hand and looked right into his eyes, as if he were looking into his very soul.
Merlin was apparently an abandoned stray. He was found attempting to herd some children who were outside playing. The children’s parents didn’t appreciate his herding skills, especially when he nipped at the heel of one of kids. The police were called and Merlin was thrown in the slammer at a vet clinic for 10 days for rabies observation. It immediately became quite evident to the staff that Merlin didn’t have a mean bone in his body. He thought he was doing his job. Merlin is a red tri-colored Australian Shepherd. If a group of something — anything — is running, he thinks he should round them up for someone.
It is nothing short of miraculous th
at Merlin is able to run fast enough to catch anything! At some point in Merlin’s young life his entire back end was crushed. His pelvic bones were broken. His hips were pulverized. As our veterinarian and I looked at the X-rays, he exclaimed that in his 35 years of veterinary medicine, he’d never seen any films like Merlin’s. He said, “This boy should be getting a disability check!” Merlin had received no medical intervention. The pain he endured is difficult to even think about. But somehow, this dog recovered and learned how to walk again. His narrow little back end is crooked, his back legs look like they are rubber banded together, and they only move from the knee down. But don’t tell Merlin he is disabled! He keeps up with our other dogs just fine! If he plays a little too hard, the pain makes him carry his left leg. He just switches to using three legs (sort of). When he “waters the bushes,” he stands on his front legs and lifts his whole back end off the ground (I have to admit, that is funny enough for a YouTube video!).
During Merlin’s incarceration, he began to work his “magic” on the entire staff. One would think that when a dog is only about 18 months old and suffered what Merlin has, he would have some trust issues and be less than happy with the world, but not Merlin. He is friendly and gentle to everyone he meets, whether human or furry. It is said that our eyes are the window to the soul and Merlin must know that.
Last Saturday, my husband was teaching a class at a conference and asked me to come speak about Faithful Friends during the class. Merlin rode along. When we arrived, I decided I’d take Merlin to the class and just see how it went. When we walked into the large church, Merlin stayed right beside me down long hallways, past other classrooms and a chapel. As I slipped into a seat at the back of Rich’s classroom, Merlin stayed right by me and quietly sat down beside my chair. When it was my turn to speak, Merlin escorted me up to the front. As I began to talk, he sat down, facing the class and leaned against my leg. He acted like we’d been doing this all his life! With handsome Merlin seated at my side, I had their full attention. When I finished speaking and took a seat at the front, Merlin moved with me and once again lay down beside my chair, where he remained until the end of the class when many people flocked to meet him. He sat like a perfect gentleman while each one petted him and talked to him. I was stupefied that without any training, I could take this incredible dog anywhere and trust him totally with anyone.
Our veterinarian got pretty attached to Merlin during his incarceration. He asked the question, “How can a dog suffer what Merlin has, and still have the rock solid, gentle temperament he does?” We agreed that is part the “magic” of Merlin.