I tried to imagine the world from his perspective. He was still ill, his pneumonia only partially resolved. He looked terrified and confused—he had no understanding of this new, chaotic realm in which he'd been placed. At least his home in the dog kennel had been familiar; he'd known the dogs around him and knew what to expect from them. Also, I was sure he was hungry, since he had thrown away most of his food over the last three days. As I got close, he sneered, scrambled around the small space of his crib and gave out one of his screeches.

I stood still. Then I slowly started to take off my white coat, letting it slip to the floor. He stared at me. I slowly undid my tie and pulled it off. I rolled up the sleeves of my shirt. With each action, I took one small step closer. I did not speak as I moved. I tried to be as non-threatening as possible-no quick movements, no eye contact, trying to speak in a low, melodic, rhythmic tone, almost like a lullaby. I approached him as one would a terrified baby or a frightened animal.

"My name is Dr. Perry, Justin. You don't know what is happening here, do you? I will try to help you, Justin. See, I am just taking off my white coat. That's ok, right? Now let me come a bit closer. Far enough? Ok. Let's see what might work here. Mmm. I will take off my tie. Ties are not familiar to you, I'll bet. Let me do that."

He stopped moving around the crib. I could hear his breathing—a rapid wheezy grunt. He had to be starving. I noticed a muffin on a lunch tray, far out of his reach but still within his view. I moved toward it. He grunted louder and faster. I took the muffin broke a small piece off, and slowly put it in my mouth and chewed deliberately, trying to indicate pleasure and satisfaction.
The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog by Bruce Perry and Maia Szalavitz. Published by Basic Books. © 2009


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