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Adopting an Abused Dog: Roxy's Rescue Story

Updated on November 1, 2013

It was my day off, and I was cleaning my apartment. Hermione, the chihuahua I was looking after temporarily, had just scattered the contents of the trash can all over the kitchen floor. I ignored the phone when it rang the first time, but when the caller id alerted me that my mother was calling a second time, I decided it must be important and I picked up.

"Hi, Mom."

"Hey. I was wondering if you have room for another dog?"

I looked at the heap of half-eaten trash that I was standing in. After about a half second's consideration, I spat out a blunt and absolute no.

"Okay. I thought you'd say that," she sighed.

She went on to explain that she knew a guy who had just packed up his stuff and left the state. Along with his house and a good chunk of his belongings, he abandoned a puppy. Apparently, he had left her alone outside of a farm house in the middle of nowhere, with one bowl of food and no intention to send anyone out there to care for her. He expected her to find her own way in the fields, with nothing to eat and no help for miles.

I felt really bad for her, but I just couldn't do it. I was in a one-bedroom apartment, and already had a little trouble maker to deal with. Two dogs would be too much for that little space.

"I'm sorry, but I just can't take her. I will ask around and see if anyone else will, though."

"Ok. It would just break my heart to see her go to the pound, or have anything happen to her out there."

I hung up the phone and resumed my daunting task. This puppy's story didn't sit well with me, though. For the rest of the day, I felt sick. I felt kind of like I'd just heard terrible news, like someone I cared for had died, or I had just been through a terrible breakup. My heart was in my stomach, and I couldn't take it.

Roxy giving me hugs
Roxy giving me hugs
She's always been a big fan of cuddling
She's always been a big fan of cuddling

A Change of Heart

I called all my friends, and not a single one of them had the time or the money to be adopting and training a dog. I just couldn't shake that terrible feeling I had, so I called my mom back later that evening and asked her to take me out there. I wanted to see this dog that my heart had been aching for. It was on the ride over that I learned of my mom's suspicions that the dog had been abused. This guy had a history of being terribly cruel to his animals, and this dog was unreasonably skittish. My mom had been spending a lot of time out there lately, and she said the dog wouldn't go anywhere near anybody. I was sure there was no way this dog would be manageable, and we'd end up having to take her to the animal shelter. I was shocked by what happened when we got there.

I spotted her right away when we pulled up the drive. She was laying on the front steps, a litter of kittens all curled up around her. She got up when she saw us coming, and her whole back end wiggled in excitement. She must have changed her mind about us when we got out of the car; she scurried away and hid under an old truck that was parked nearby. She was so scared of us she was peeing herself on the way there.

"You'll never get her to come out," my mom said.

I felt so bad for her. I knew that she must not have been treated well, for her to be so afraid. Luckily, I had planned ahead. I brought a bowl of food for her, and some dog treats. I hoped she could get a good meal in for the night, and that maybe I could bribe her into trusting me a little. From a good distance, so that I wouldn't frighten her, I got down on my knees and held a treat out to her, making kissy noises. She scooted forward a bit.

"Come on, sweetheart," I called. She darted out from under the truck and sheepishly ran at me, looking around cautiously to make sure the coast was clear. But to my surprise, she wasn't interested in the treat. Instead, she threw her paws around my neck (much like she was hugging me) and hid her face in my hair. She plopped her butt down in my lap, and made sad little whining noises, like she was trying to tell me all about her troubles. And that's all it took. I was sold.

I left her with a full bowl of food and fresh water, and I set out to buy the necessary supplies. I knew she would need a flea bath (she was covered with them), some good food to eat (she was way too thin), a warm bed to sleep on, and some toys to play with. I brought my boyfriend with me to pick her up the next day.

A Dreadful Adjustment Period

Unfortunately, she didn't take to him as well as she did to me. She cowered and peed herself every time he so much as looked at her. In fact, she was pretty afraid of everything for the first few weeks. It became painfully clear to me that she had been treated pretty badly. She was only seven months old, and she was so afraid all the time. We had to be very careful not to make any sudden movements or loud noises. She was afraid to eat her food, and she didn't seem to know how to play. That's not normal for a seven month old pup.

Even though getting through to her sometimes felt like a daunting task that we would never accomplish, we refused to give up. We recognized the teeny tiny steps she was taking in the right direction. We did our best to offer her plenty of love and encouragement, which I'm sure she never got until she met us. Even if it was happening very slowly, we were earning her trust. She started to build up confidence in herself, eating her food without fear, learning to potty outside, and eventually even playing with Hermione.

Completely comfortable at nap time
Completely comfortable at nap time
Smiling for her closeup
Smiling for her closeup

A Whole New Dog

We soon moved to a house with a large yard so she could have room to run around. She learned to like going for walks, and playing fetch out at the dog park. Even though it took a while, she finally realized that no one was going to hurt her anymore, and she came to trust us completely. She's become the dog we've always dreamed of having. She seems to love us a lot, and she goes everywhere with us. She's now an incredibly fast learner, and she's learned all kinds of cool tricks and commands. Her only problem now is getting overly excited when she meets new dogs, and being incredibly rude to the mailman. But we're working on that.

I am incredibly glad that I had that terrible feeling after I said no that day. Thank goodness I gave her a chance. We can't imagine not having her in our lives now. After almost two years, she's become a member of the family. I hate to think about what might have happened to her if she hadn't ended up with us. It breaks my heart to know that someone could be so terrible to such a wonderful dog.

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    • Nettlemere profile image

      Nettlemere 5 years ago from Burnley, Lancashire, UK

      Well done for going with your heart with this one and putting in the necessary effort to achieve a happy outcome. Roxy is lucky to have you.

    • Kristen Haynie profile image
      Author

      Kristen Haynie 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      Nettlemere,

      I am just as lucky to have her!

      Thank you for your comment!

    • profile image

      BrianT 5 years ago

      We stopped at our local shelter tonight (I don't know why we do that) and saw an abused terrier mix who just melted our hearts. We were sold the minute he licked our hands even though his tail was tucked tightly between his legs. We spent 20 minutes just sitting with him and letting him smell us, as well as our dog and toddler on our clothes.

      We are going back Tuesday since they are closed the next two days to adopt him. But then, tonight, I began searching on the challenges of adopting abused dogs. I stumbled across your blog and just wanted to tell you how I am more inspired to take this little guy home with us. Good on you for showing your love to Roxy and inspiring us to take the leap as well.

      Peace.

    • Kristen Haynie profile image
      Author

      Kristen Haynie 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      BrianT,

      I am so very happy to hear this! There is nothing quite like loving and caring for a rescued dog. It may be a challenge at first, because it does take a lot to earn their trust. But once you get passed that tricky phase, it is beyond rewarding. Rescues have so much love to give, all they need is a good solid chance, some patience, love, and kindness. I applaud you for deciding to give this little rescue dog a chance, and a loving home and family! I sincerely believe that you will be so glad you did. I wish you the best of luck with him! Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or just need a little support from someone else who's been through adopting a rescue.

    • profile image

      alyssa beckinella 5 years ago

      HI! I loved your story and i was wondering if i could put it up on my website for a school project I will give the credit to you I just wanted to get premisson=]

    • Kristen Haynie profile image
      Author

      Kristen Haynie 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      Alyssa,

      Thank you so much for asking first! You have my permission to use this article for your project. I would love a link to the site when it's up, if that's possible.

      Good luck on your project! I appreciate your interest in my story. :)

    • profile image

      alyssa beckinella 5 years ago

      I would love to give you the link when i'm finished! and how do you want me to word the story do you want it from your view like the exact story????

    • Kristen Haynie profile image
      Author

      Kristen Haynie 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      As long as the details of the story remain the same, you can do what you want with it. If you need to change it to third person so the story can be told from your point of view (as in: referring to me as "she" and so on). Also, feel free to paraphrase if need be. But if you'd rather just copy the whole thing as-is, that's fine, too. :)

      If you have any more questions or anything, you can email me directly at

      kristenhaynie@ymail.com

    • profile image

      alyssa beckinella 5 years ago

      Is it ok if I copy it because I want the story to be the same as you told it. I think the way you did it was really great=]

    • Kristen Haynie profile image
      Author

      Kristen Haynie 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      Of course!

    • profile image

      Alyssa Beckinella 5 years ago

      it will be finished soon and when I do get it finished can you comment on my blog! oh and by the way im in 7th grade so its not a professional website=D

    • Kristen Haynie profile image
      Author

      Kristen Haynie 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      Sounds great, Alyssa! I am quite excited to see the finished product! I hope it earns you a good grade!

    • profile image

      Alyssa Beckinella 5 years ago

      OK!!!! i'm finally finished it the website is below!!!

      http://angelpawz.weebly.com/

      And your story is in the success stories page and for the donations I live in Colorado so those are for Colorado shelters

    • Kristen Haynie profile image
      Author

      Kristen Haynie 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      Thank you for sending the link! I love what you did with this project! I am truly honored to have my story used for such a good cause! You're an amazing person doing an amazing thing, standing up for innocent, defenseless animals. If you don't mind, I would like to pass this site along via Twitter, Facebook, etc.

    • Kebennett1 profile image

      Kebennett1 5 years ago from San Bernardino County, California

      What an awesome story of love. Thank you for adopting that poor dog. You were obviously the perfect family for him. I wish people didn't treat animals so badly. It breaks my heart.

    • Kristen Haynie profile image
      Author

      Kristen Haynie 5 years ago from Modesto, CA

      It breaks my heart, too! I want to cry every time I think about what she must have gone through before I got to her!

      Thank you for your comment!

    • profile image

      Alyssa Beckinella 4 years ago

      Oh im so sorry i didn't reply! and it would be AWESOME if you passed it on thanks ;D

    • Leslie234 profile image

      Leslie234 3 years ago

      I'm so glad to have found this writing. I'm in a very similar situation with a very similar dog who is also an abused, petite blue heeler. Our stories are almost identical except I've only had Cricket for 1 month, and we are still in that rough adjustment period. It was so comforting to hear about the progress Roxy has made. My Cricket instantly ran and jumped into my arms at the rescue foster home I met her in, yet she is still terrified of my boyfriend, and bags, and spray bottles etc etc. Sometimes she goes into what I can only describe as "fear mode " and she is just so irrational in that mode. It's as if her spirit has left and only instinct and memories are controlling her. I still don't know what to do to get her out of it. Id like to hear more about Roxy's progress in learning. I can tell Cricket is smart but she's in fear mode so often I am having a difficult time teaching her basic things, most importantly house breaking. Your story really gives me hope. I'm going to try to post a photo of her.

    • Kristen Haynie profile image
      Author

      Kristen Haynie 3 years ago from Modesto, CA

      Leslie,

      I'm so sorry it took me so long to see this comment. I am so happy that you have rescued your dog, and I can't believe how much the story you've told reminds me of my dog! I am so sorry the poor thing is going through this and has been treated so badly, but I promise you she will come out of it! It takes a lot of time and patience but it will get better. For a while, I thought my Roxy would never be a "normal" dog, but I was very wrong. She is now almost four. It has been a very long time since she has had a panic episode and she is now much more trusting of people. Please feel free to contact me any time! You can find me on facebook (Kristen Haynie).

    • profile image

      Melissa 3 years ago

      Beautiful story!

    • profile image

      Cynthia 3 years ago

      Wonderful story!

    • profile image

      Cynthia 3 years ago

      Roughly 5 or 6 years ago my brother had always talked about getting his own dog. Specifically a German Shepard. At the time we already had two dogs (sisters) who were half chihuahuas. One day my mom calls me and says her and my brother are coming home with a German Shepard puppy. In my head they went to a dog shop and bought a baby German Shepard but when they got home it was not what i expected. He was probably 2 years old, fairly skinny for a German Shepard, and had a long sad face. He was triple the size of my dogs but when they saw him they went crazy and started scratching the slide door. Rocky had no response he didn't even look at them. We put the dogs inside (Hershey and Minnie) and put Rocky in the backyard. I remember one day i had the broom in my hand and i called to him and he ran to his house as fast as he could. If i had anything in my hands he would run away and refuse to come out. He didn't play and his sad face just made me think he was probably abused not severely but abused to a point where he was scared of objects one held in their hands. Even though he wasn't a brand new dog the fact that he was a German Shepard made him my brothers dream dog. A month later my brother had him playing and his sad face was slowly disappearing. Now my brother lives with his girlfriend and he took both Rocky and Hershey (Minnie ran away) since they're inseparable. Rocky has gotten so big, hes confident, he listens to my brother, he no longer has a sad face, and he has his own personality which i find to be funny. I love Rocky so much he just so lovable and the experience has made me want to adopt an abused animal in the future. That dog might not be the most "normal" dog but as long as i can change its life a little will make me feel so good.

    • Kristen Haynie profile image
      Author

      Kristen Haynie 3 years ago from Modesto, CA

      Cynthia,

      Thank you for sharing this story! It always makes me so happy to hear an adoption and/or rescue story that turned out well! It hurts my heart to think of how many precious creatures are abused every single day, but it gives me hope every time I hear about one that was adopted into a loving home!

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