|Kizzie, just after Passion died and Kizzie today.|
Of course, he's older. Not as active. A few pounds heavier. But that's not what I'm talking about.
When I and my dog Passion first met him, he was severely frightened and shy. The people at the shelter put us alone with him in a small room and it was nearly an hour before Kizzie would even come near me. He just kept to a corner or paced in circles, not sure what to make of the situation.
I was so proud of Passion, because she was a tough girl. Dog aggressive. But she just sat in the middle of the room, casually chewing a toy. At one point, Kizzie got the courage to grab the toy from her mouth. That's when I knew he was our boy. NOBODY grabbed a toy from Passion and, in fact, it was the last time I would ever see Kizzie with a toy in his mouth. (You might remember that, these days, I see Kizzie surrounded with toys all the time and I think Passion is apologetically doing that from beyond.)
Kizzie then spent the first half of his life in Passion's shadow. She had a very strong personality—the poster girl for "alpha"—and he was happy to play second fiddle. She made him feel safe. And she also kept him a boy. So when Passion died, I decided it was time for Kizzie to become a man.
I sat him down and told him that he had to choose a new sister and that, no matter how insistent she was, I wanted him to be the leader. I told him I knew he had it in him...that he was strong and tough and masculine. He needed to be #1 son. I was counting on him.
And over the course of the next few weeks, I saw a huge change in him, not just with his attitude, but with his appearance. His undercoat seemed to double in size and his hair grew longer, making him seem twice the size he was before. Granted, he has also gained 5 or 6 pounds over the years, but this is beyond that. He seemed to take more risks. His bark got lower and more resounding. And the more I told him how handsome, leaderly and masculine he was, the more handsome, leaderly and masculine he became.
Today Kizzie is a totally different boy than the one I adopted eleven years ago. He has the full respect of his two sisters and he walks around this house like the big man on campus. Because he is. He patiently lets both of his sisters groom him each day. He supervises their wrestling time. And when Mystic is jumping all over me, he puts his body between us to protect me...or Mystic...haha. Not sure which.
When he lived with Passion, he saw himself as the perpetual boy—carefree and goofy. But I helped him believe he was someone else. And he flowered into the confident, strong leader he is today. The inner changes aren't nearly as surprising as the outer ones, though. It's remarkable to see him so big and fluffy compared to before. He needs trimming in places he didn't need trimming before...he even sheds differently! And maybe that's typical of aging, but it all happened within a year of our talk.
Recently I caught a glimpse of Rumer Willis, who won Dancing With The Stars this season. She is the daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis. And most of her life she was bullied by the press for being homelier than the daughter of Demi Moore and Bruce Willis should be. But then she went on the dancing show and got good feedback and started to believe differently about herself. And she flowered. She recently took a photo with her mother in which they look exactly alike.
When Rumer Willis began to believe differently about her looks, she began to look differently. When Kizzie Sadler began to believe differently about who he was, everything about him changed to greet that new notion. Both of them still had the same DNA and all the same rough materials (I don't think Willis has had any plastic surgery or anything), but when they began to believe differently about themselves inside, the outside changed.
And they're not unique. We all have the same amazing capacity for transformation within us. We just need to stop believing there are limits to who we can be. Or maybe there's someone else in our lives that we can help believe differently about themselves. People always thought Kizzie was a girl because of how sweet he is. After about a million "my masculine boy"s and "handsome boy"s, he now carries himself differently. So consider this when you do your self talk and when you talk to others (and remember, the door swings both ways, so always be kind and generous.) You never know what may be inside you just waiting to be recognized and called upon before it comes out.